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Perception.

I'm always looking out for a unique presentation of musical performance and analysis. Last week I made a brief post talking about ear training, attention and anticipating pitch in particular. This week I thought I'd focus on perception, particularly in an ensemble setting.  

Other than endlessly practicing in an ensemble, there are a few other ways to develop your ability to groove with a group of musicians. Active listening while performing is vital, but again, you aren't limited to doing that just while you are playing music, but can also develop it while you are listening to music. In my experience, the best musicians that I know will actively dissect music, when most people are only passively listening. They comment on the beat, the chord progression, the singer's voice, the colors of the tone of the guitar, the punch of the bass, etc. It sharpens your perception and allows you to appreciate a song more. Once you can measure all the individual parts, it raises the value of the music. You can take this ability and apply it when you are in an ensemble in real time.

I don't know too much about Rick Beato, other than he is a producer and music educator, but he has developed an excellent Youtube channel that has many helpful resources for any kind of musician. In particular, we are going to focus on his series called 'What Makes this Song Great." He takes the master tracks and walks you through the whole song, pointing out all the important details along the way. I've picked a few songs that I think are some of his best videos in terms of analysis and presentation, and also picked songs from different time periods that received heavy air time, so I hope I picked at least one song you are highly familiar with and enjoy. Pick your favourite-I don't expect you to watch them all. It's okay if some of his chordal explanation goes over your head-he demonstrates everything that he talks about, so even if you don't understand what he says, you'll be able to hear it. Grab your headphones or plug into your surround sound so that you can fully appreciate the videos!

The Police-Every Little Thing She Does is Magic: A unique chord progression.

Pearl Jam-Jeremy: Awesome breakdown. The vox are mostly sung in A mixolydian-the same scale as bagpipes.

Soundgarden-Spoonman: Amazing drum mix and song structure.

Coldplay-Clocks: I was surprised at how much was hidden in this mix. Great modal chord work.


Once you are done, go back and listen to the full song and try to apply some active listening to the details of the song that make it so effective. I encourage you to practice active listening whenever you can, as I am sure that as musicians, we all do it at least a little bit already. This will make your real time listening in an ensemble more effective.

Which one did you watch and what did you think? Any surprises?

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