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Thread: Understanding Aqualung

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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Understanding Aqualung



    Just found this YT channel called 12-Tone where this music theory nut picks apart famous compositions, songs, etc and also does some regular formal music theory. As a huge JT fanatic (and musician) I found this to be pretty fun and entertaining, yet I'll go out on a limb and say that there is a good chance IA wasn't quite thinking this way 100% when he wrote this (or maybe he did). Anyway, the channel has a ton of other videos which seem to be produced in this hyper-quick style both visually and content-wise with some humorous bits and cool illustrations.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

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    Jazzbo manqué Mister Triscuits's Avatar
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    I've been watching 12-Tone's videos for a while, and I loved this one, but I disagree with his analysis of the changing key centers and his conclusion that the song is fundamentally "atonal"--I have always interpreted the song as G minor throughout, and it looks like a lot of the viewers who left comments see it the same way.

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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Triscuits View Post
    I've been watching 12-Tone's videos for a while, and I loved this one, but I disagree with his analysis of the changing key centers and his conclusion that the song is fundamentally "atonal"--I have always interpreted the song as G minor throughout, and it looks like a lot of the viewers who left comments see it the same way.
    Do you hear the entire beginning as being in g min? I definitely don't....I mean I do hear g min as a tonal center in other parts but that intro is sort of all of the place (in a great way). Yeah, his atonal tag is (shall we say) stretching the truth a bit, but its still fun. What other videos are worth watching?

    Man, I would love for him to pick apart something like APP, Brick, Velvet Green, Pibroch, even something like Summerday Sands or Baker Street Muse. He would have a field day with that stuff (plus a TON of other JT tunes).
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

  4. #4
    I've listened to this a million times, not only because I wanted to - and I did want to, especially in the past - but because it gets such huge airplay in my country (it's really up there with the 50 most recognizable rock songs of all time).

    And despite the over-listening I have to say: what an incredible rock riff, what a beautiful, long and totally complete music phrase. How could anyone come up with such an idea?

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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zappathustra View Post
    I've listened to this a million times, not only because I wanted to - and I did want to, especially in the past - but because it gets such huge airplay in my country (it's really up there with the 50 most recognizable rock songs of all time).

    And despite the over-listening I have to say: what an incredible rock riff, what a beautiful, long and totally complete music phrase. How could anyone come up with such an idea?
    There is no doubt that in my mind Ian is a genius on multiple levels. Whether he has a true genius IQ I have no idea, but his thinking is on an elevated and very intellectual level, and not without humor (which is sometimes self-deprecating). I read the Tull lyrics book as poetry - and in fact he may be my fav poet if you can view his words in that angle. Worth buying if its still around.
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

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    Member Guitarplyrjvb's Avatar
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    Funny, I was just analyzing that riff the other day, too. If I had to notate it, I would probably use Gmin, but it doesn’t sit there very comfortably! It just sounds so “right” that you would think it would be all in one key.

    Regarding Ian A’s genius, the thing that blows my mind is his coming up with APP in his mid-20’s. I think it’s the most complex and rewarding piece in Tull’s catalog. Quite an accomplishment for the kid he was then.
    Last edited by Guitarplyrjvb; 1 Week Ago at 02:38 PM.

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    Member chalkpie's Avatar
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    He always seemed older to me than he really was.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    There is no doubt that in my mind Ian is a genius on multiple levels. Whether he has a true genius IQ I have no idea, but his thinking is on an elevated and very intellectual level, and not without humor (which is sometimes self-deprecating). I read the Tull lyrics book as poetry - and in fact he may be my fav poet if you can view his words in that angle. Worth buying if its still around.
    +1

    He is without peer in some regards. A colossal talent.
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    I would have said G minor but it does sort of hover around F major as well (it ends on that, after all).

  10. #10
    One of the greatest rock riffs of all time, but methinks Ian listen a little to Iron Man by Black Sabbath as an inspiration. Lot of Tull has Ian playing acoustic with a Capo on the 3rd fret. Guess that fit his voice.

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    Member SunshipVoyager1976's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adinfinitum View Post
    One of the greatest rock riffs of all time, but methinks Ian listen a little to Iron Man by Black Sabbath as an inspiration. Lot of Tull has Ian playing acoustic with a Capo on the 3rd fret. Guess that fit his voice.
    Would have been intriguing to hear what riffs Anderson and Iommi would have come up with together if Iommi had chosen to stay in Tull...

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    He always seemed older to me than he really was.
    I agree. Humorously enough, he was only 28 when he wrote "Too Old To Rock and Roll: Too Young To Die." But I believe he stated he was referring more to the often swift mortality of musical popularity than aging.
    "And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision."

    Occasional musical musings on https://darkelffile.blogspot.com/

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by SunshipVoyager1976 View Post
    Would have been intriguing to hear what riffs Anderson and Iommi would have come up with together if Iommi had chosen to stay in Tull...
    "A New Day Yesterday" is Iommi's riff.
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    Member SunshipVoyager1976's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    "A New Day Yesterday" is Iommi's riff.
    Oh, yeah? Cool. I had always heard they didn't really start work on "Stand Up" material until after Barre joined. Mart should have played the riff tuned down a 1/2 step as a tribute! 😈

  15. #15
    The album Aqualung always seemed to me to be Ian Anderson's blues scale extravaganza and the title song certainly bears witness to that. I think it is unquestionably squarely in the key of Gmin with some blues notes thrown in for good measure (#4 #5) and triads based on that. The wee little twists before it all loops again, are, in my mind at least, nested blues scales from other keys functioning much like secondary dominants. Very jazzy, extended harmonies but far from atonal

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by chalkpie View Post
    There is no doubt that in my mind Ian is a genius on multiple levels. Whether he has a true genius IQ I have no idea, but his thinking is on an elevated and very intellectual level, and not without humor (which is sometimes self-deprecating). I read the Tull lyrics book as poetry - and in fact he may be my fav poet if you can view his words in that angle. Worth buying if its still around.
    Quote Originally Posted by ronmac View Post
    +1

    He is without peer in some regards. A colossal talent.
    Seconded. (Or thirded?)

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