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Thread: Prog Songwriting: Where are the hooks?

  1. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    There's an abundance of hooks, but you kinda have to be able to actually hear or "get" them - which tends to depend on a subjective matter.

    A hook or melody doesn't define as "good" because oneself happens to hear or remember or "get" it.


    "Not so many hooks in modern prog". Really? "Prog" is short for progressive rock, or at least it used to be - and such music isn't listened to anymore, at least not by "prog" fans.
    I completely agree with this. I still say "hook" is subjective. Just because you (or I) like something or hear what we consider to be a hook, doens't mean it resonates with others the same way.

  2. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by Juba View Post
    There's not such abundance of hooks in prog anymore and never will be again. Well I could to agree that there's not a smaller abundance of "hooks" in e.g. "rock in opposition" like it was in the late seventies, but that genre never was the stuff that we, the original prog-heads, really loved nor either we tagged it "prog(ressive)" back in the day, as for us it was just a boring avantgarde for one listening..
    Thanks for clearing all that and truly putting things in analytical perspective, Svet.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
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  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juba View Post
    Well I could to agree that there's not a smaller abundance of "hooks" in e.g. "rock in opposition" like it was in the late seventies, but that genre never was the stuff that we, the original prog-heads, really loved nor either we tagged it "prog(ressive)" back in the day, as for us it was just a boring avantgarde for one listening..
    Or, you could hear that there was something there but you weren't quite grasping it, so you listened to the music repeatedly until you understood it better. As I did with Henry Cow, Thinking Plague, Univers Zero, and quite a few others.

  4. #54
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    ^^^

  5. #55
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    There are some nice hooks today also (for example this ECM clip), but not as much as it was the case in the Seventies in all of the genres, and the real question is - why?




    There is not a valid answer on that question, I'm afraid.

  6. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Or, you could hear that there was something there but you weren't quite grasping it, so you listened to the music repeatedly until you understood it better. As I did with Henry Cow, Thinking Plague, Univers Zero, and quite a few others.
    I don't think there is anything especially boring about Univers Zero. The music holds the listener's interest even if it isn't "pretty" in a traditional way. That is a far cry from songwriters who are not quite up to the challenge. Like I said before, these are folks that were they to ply their trade in the 70s would find themselves waiting tables rather than writing songs.
    No matter what anyone says, you are the decider of how you will listen to music.

  7. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Splicer View Post
    I don't think there is anything especially boring about Univers Zero.
    I didn't say their music was boring - if anything, it sounds like Stravinsky played by jazz musicians. It just isn't always easily grasped at first hearing.

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juba View Post
    There are some nice hooks today also, but not as much as it was the case in the Seventies in all of the genres, and the real question is - why?

    There is not a valid answer on that question, I'm afraid.
    There are some possible guesses, though. For example, perhaps songwriters blessed with an ear for pop hooks don't go into the prog genre any more. Instead, they stay with the indie rock, or folk, or production pop they started with because prog doesn't sell any more, and they're trying to make a living with music. Or perhaps the ones who do decide to make prog don't concentrate on pop hooks because that's not what they went into it to do - their concerns are building extended structures, or instrumental fireworks, or textures, or other compositional experimentation. They're never going to make a living with that music, so there's no reason to make it as appealing as possible. Or perhaps they deal in prog hooks - a musical bits that are noticeable because they're unusual, rather than because they're familiar. Catchy to some, but a person who doesn't have an ear for the unexpected will probably just find them annoying.

    Speaking for myself, I don't consciously work on pop hooks because they aren't a high priority in the music I'm trying to make. Yet they still may appear as a consequence of wanting that music to sound melodically, harmonically, rhythmically, and structurally right, and working on it until it does. Or at least comes close.

  9. #59
    Writing a good hook is job #1 with my band.....to the detriment of our "prog cred" methinks....which of course is a stupid thing. I hope you have a chance to agree or take me to task by checking us out...assuming you haven't yet.

    Here's some of the hookiest IMHO:

    The Best & Brightest
    Olympia
    Cautionary Tale
    You're Fooling Yourselves

  10. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by Juba View Post
    There are some nice hooks today also (for example this ECM clip), but not as much as it was the case in the Seventies in all of the genres, and the real question is - why?

    There is not a valid answer on that question, I'm afraid.
    And neither is there a valid answer to why more people won't accept all the other personal truths of yours, Svetonio. I'm afraid. But why isn't there a valid answer to this? That's the relevant dilemma here; how on Earth can it be that there's no valid answer as to why folks simply insist on not seeing that which can not possibly be anything but absolutely all-encompassingly true?
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

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    King Crimson were / are Progressive rock band that recorded many great instrumental parts. However, all those frippy soundscapes in KC's catalogue would be just bitter if they are packed on their albums without amazing ballad-like sympho-rock songs.





    Only with the presence of their songs, i.e. hooks, KC's catalogue is "bittersweet" and only then that is what we love.

  12. #62
    Christ.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  13. #63
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    Christ.

  14. #64
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    Buddha.
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    Now I'm done...
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  16. #66
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Or, you could hear that there was something there but you weren't quite grasping it, so you listened to the music repeatedly until you understood it better. As I did with Henry Cow, Thinking Plague, Univers Zero, and quite a few others.
    Familiarity breeds hooks.

  17. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Juba View Post
    King Crimson were / are Progressive rock band that recorded many great instrumental parts. However, all those frippy soundscapes in KC's catalogue would be just bitter if they are packed on their albums without amazing ballad-like sympho-rock songs.

    Only with the presence of their songs, i.e. hooks, KC's catalogue is "bittersweet" and only then that is what we love.
    Thanks for telling us what we all "love". We certainly can't figure that out for ourselves!

  18. #68
    I find this thread kind of silly. Listening to Kino as I type this which makes me chuckle at the whole modern music has no hooks.

    Then again, there was an album made called Roswell Six which had some great vocals from Steve Walsh. Absolutely forgettable. Not a hook to be found. Nothing brought your ear back to the music. So there are plenty of bad songwriting, but grouping all modern prog is a mistake.

  19. #69
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Arnold Schönberg went from hummable melodies over Free atonality to Twelve-tone.
    And what made him rembered and famous?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schoenberg

  20. #70
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Arnold Schönberg […] what made him rembered and famous?
    The songs, Zeuhlmate - the songs!! Although they too kinda tended to be twelve-tone.

    I think that's simply just because he didn't live long enough to hear Genesis.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  21. #71
    Quote Originally Posted by saucyjackstl View Post
    I find this thread kind of silly. Listening to Kino as I type this which makes me chuckle at the whole modern music has no hooks.

    Then again, there was an album made called Roswell Six which had some great vocals from Steve Walsh. Absolutely forgettable. Not a hook to be found. Nothing brought your ear back to the music. So there are plenty of bad songwriting, but grouping all modern prog is a mistake.
    And that underlines my own attempt at an explanation - that I'm hearing from songwriters and bands because of the ease of electronic distribution that no one would have heard from before this era. Anyone who can put some notes together writes a song, records a song and suddenly it's up on Spotify and Bandcamp. If they know how to market themselves, it ends up on some website's "New Releases" feed. I read that feed and check it out. Suddenly, three out of five artists I'm sampling can't write a memorable melody that sticks with me after I've heard it. Then I lament about it and we end up with this thread. So perhaps there's just too much stuff being thrown against the wall except I'm able to hear all of it in real time as it's thrown. The democratization of art. If I was able to sample every book self-released on Amazon, I'd think literature was dead as well.

    I will say that what I find silly is the elitist notion that the reason I find the sound of a fork scraping the bottom of a pan unmemorable and/or unpleasant is because I'm not sophisticated enough to understand the subtle beauties of that sound. My criticism has nothing to do with how sophisticated anyone is but has to do with blandness.
    Last edited by Splicer; 1 Week Ago at 06:50 AM.
    No matter what anyone says, you are the decider of how you will listen to music.

  22. #72
    Quote Originally Posted by Splicer View Post
    I will say that what I find silly is the elitist notion that the reason I find the sound of a fork scraping the bottom of a pan unmemorable and/or unpleasant is because I'm not sophisticated enough to understand the subtle beauties of that sound. My criticism has nothing to do with how sophisticated anyone is but has to do with blandness.
    I remember the first of probably two ROSfests I attended, I think it was in 2005. I don't know if I even made it through a whole set of any of the bands, just remember thinking if anyone had played any songs by the bands there I wouldn't have been able to tell what band I even listened to. The only thing I remembered was they had a jam session one night and they played So What by Miles Davis, which stuck in my head. The sad part was unlike NEARfest or Progday I couldn't just go outside and pop open my trunk and have a nice cold one to try and replenish the brain cells I killed trying to decipher the gobble-de-goop I just listened to.
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  23. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    The songs, Zeuhlmate - the songs!! Although they too kinda tended to be twelve-tone.

    I think that's simply just because he didn't live long enough to hear Genesis.

  24. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Splicer View Post
    And that underlines my own attempt at an explanation - that I'm hearing from songwriters and bands because of the ease of electronic distribution that no one would have heard from before this era. Anyone who can put some notes together writes a song, records a song and suddenly it's up on Spotify and Bandcamp. If they know how to market themselves, it ends up on some website's "New Releases" feed. I read that feed and check it out. Suddenly, three out of five artists I'm sampling can't write a memorable melody that sticks with me after I've heard it. Then I lament about it and we end up with this thread. So perhaps there's just too much stuff being thrown against the wall except I'm able to hear all of it in real time as it's thrown. The democratization of art. If I was able to sample every book self-released on Amazon, I'd think literature was dead as well.

    I will say that what I find silly is the elitist notion that the reason I find the sound of a fork scraping the bottom of a pan unmemorable and/or unpleasant is because I'm not sophisticated enough to understand the subtle beauties of that sound. My criticism has nothing to do with how sophisticated anyone is but has to do with blandness.



    The idea that music is supposed to even HAVE hooks is weird to me. Given that what most people consider a hook is a strictly tonal melody comprised mostly of chord-tones, then any band that plays dissonant or atonal music is bound to come up short in the first-glance-memorable-hooks department. Generally societies' familiarity with music is based on radio. We tend to grow up in a strictly tonal universe and I believe that is what shapes most people's base assumptions of what music should sound like. It is easy to write accessible music if it is contained in the parameters of people's base assumptions. Once it parts from that base of tonal gravity then it becomes something that might require deeper listening to become familiar with.

    Is it worth the deep listening?

    I think so. Bartok's secrets aren't revealed in one pass. Working from the inside out, I know first hand what it is like to be immersed in a idiosyncratic world of self-expression. When I am writing, all I can hear in my head are the melodies and riffs of the piece. They are certainly memorable to me. I don't expect anyone to agree with that on first pass, nor to be honest do I expect anyone to put the time in to see if they agree. If they are looking for catchy tonal melodies there are tons of them elsewhere.

    I don't find that if someone can't parse atonal stuff they are necessarily unsophisticated, but given the HUGE amount of music out there, I do find their insistence that there is supposed to be easily understood "hooks" in music somewhat perplexing if not, dare I say, naive.

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    Arnold Schönberg went from hummable melodies over Free atonality to Twelve-tone.
    And what made him rembered and famous?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schoenberg
    At the risk of going off on an unrelated tangent, Schönberg didn't like the term "atonal" because it implies the music lacks tones. He preferred the term "pan-tonal," because it incorporates every tone.
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