Yep, “Smoke on the Water,”… Deep Purple, the metal band…relaxing! Remember to some heavy metal IS relaxing in itself. This song, however, is not very heavy at all and its sound would be generally accepted by anyone as relaxing. Your mom would like it! It gets a wee heavy in the middle but that ‘contradiction’ highlights the subtleties within.
The song starts out with a simple guitar line interwoven with an exceptionally emotive keyboard patch. In fact it is the ‘intense simplicity’ in the interplay between guitar and keys throughout that unclenches the distended soul.
The way in which keyboardist, the recently deceased, Jon Lord and guitarist Steve Morse play off each other sets up an incredibly concerted sonority only two Master musician’s could offer. Listen for the interplay throughout even the heavier parts to get the most out of the song.
Additionally Steve Morse masterfully plays off his initial motive even in the solos to give the song a connectivity from beginning to end. Steve’s use of delay and splitting the channels adds to the calmness of the guitar sound.
Alright, most of you are going to think I am insane!
Fight was a 90s heavy metal band formed by Judas Priest singer Rob Halford. They were not a thrash metal band like Metallica but very heavy nonetheless. In addition to Halford’s powerhouse vocals Fight always had great, very crunchy very musical guitar riffs.
I know heavy metal isn’t for everyone. It is an acquired taste that grows over time, but, in my opinion well worth the time. Many amazing virtuoso musicians over the last 40-50 years have chosen this hard edged rock as their genre as it allows for musicality and creativity not afforded in other popular styles.
So how can this song be considered relaxing music? It is kind of like how you feel after a workout. Your endorphins release and you get what they call a “runners high.” There have been times I was driving home from a rough day and cranked a band like Fight..probably a little bit towards full volume and it really helped me get all the aggressions out. It calms me right back down like a nice shoulder massage would.
This is definitely different than the typical pastoral music I usually share on my “Music to Relax” articles. Although I know it is not for everyone maybe you can obtain more of a grasp on why people truly do love heavy metal music. There are other forms of ‘ugly’ music that people enjoy as well. Think of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring or some free Jazz that does not follow the ‘normal’ ideals of nice sounding music.
Keep your ears open my friends!!
Hope everyone had an easy Monday! Regardless you might want to unwind a bit and I am here for you. This issue of ‘Music to Relax’, features the impressionist composer Debussy’s piano work “Arabesque.” Debussy wrote a pair of these and this is the 1st one.
The music of the Impressionist period began near the end of the 19th Century in reaction to ‘Common Practice,’ music with its roots in the Medieval period (500-1400), through the Renaissance(1400-1600), stylistically heightened in J.S. Bach’s hands in the late Baroque(1600-1750), continued through the Classical period(1750-1820) of Beethoven and Mozart and exploited through chromaticism and virtuosity of the Romantic composers(1820-1910, some say it has never truly ended.)
Regarding the chromaticism of the Romantic Period pretty much any note was fair game, but, the music still followed the basic rules of tonality and rules of the ‘Common Practice.’ All twelve notes could be used in any key…the basis of my blog name 12 Notes & the Truth!
Impressionists, who followed the art movement broke with these traditions. The result tended to be very lush relaxing wide open sounding music. They tried to make different sounds. Non diatonic scales and non functioning chords were trademarks of this period. However, Debussy and another composer Ravel were not fond of the term applied to their music.
If you want to play this and relax it should do the trick.
If you are looking for a music challenge try to think how this music sounds different than Bach, Beethoven, Mahler…etc.
Click here for previous ‘Music to Relax’ posts.
I love this song! I cant hear it and not relax. It soothes my brain like no other song I can think of.
There are certain recordings that you hear and know the stars were aligned as it was being created and for Horace Silver’s, “Lonely Woman,” it might have been the stars, the planets and the universe all in phase, much like my last Music to Relax post of Miles Davis’, “Blue in Green.”
The song is mellow in it’s sonicity but has an intensity that breathes life into it’s dulcet tones.
Silver creates the relaxed mood in Lonely Woman in a handful of ways.
-First, his quartet is downsized to a trio of piano, bass and drums.
-The spacing is so open rhythmically and sonically. Rhythmically, the bass line and drum accents are almost entirely half notes.
-Brushes are used on the drums to lighten the percussive nature.
-The chords Silver uses on the piano accompaniment are mostly open spacings with just the right dissonances mixed in.
-When soloing Silver uses pentatonic scales which eliminates chromaticism.
The intensity comes when he does blend chromaticism and dissonances to contrast the vibe of the piece. Then the final bars just lift you up.
You have to think if more people were exposed to this piece the world would be a better place.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this song!!
If you had a long Monday like me here is a great tune to help you unwind. Miles Davis’ “Blue in Green” Even the title sounds relaxing. The piece is modal with open spacing in the chords. In fact ‘space’ is a great adjective for this piece. The melodies, drums, bass and improv lines all take their time creating a laid back feeling.
If you are unfamiliar make sure you check out the whole album, “Kind of Blue” a true jazz landmark recording!