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Old 02-15-2019, 10:33 PM
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TBman TBman is online now
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Default So I was listening to a country song tonight

We were at my neighbors' daughter's wedding and a country song got played by the DJ. So I listened. I wondered while I listened, "What puts the 'country' in a country song."

This particular song ended each measure on a down note and resolved each measure within itself in doing so. So it was sort of like ba ba da, ba ba da sort of pattern. It worked. I wonder what other formulas are out there. I'll have to listen to more country stuff and see what else lies within the genre and then see if I can figure out the melodic patterns that make them what they are.

I return you to your normally scheduled programming.....
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Old 02-15-2019, 10:59 PM
Willie Voltaire Willie Voltaire is offline
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I LOVE deconstructing songs to see how they're built!

It may not be true of the song you heard, but both lyrically and musically, you can trace many of country music's patterns all the way to their Celtic origins, and on through jazz and pop as well.

I would encourage you to check out Sturgill Simpson if you haven't yet -- I think he may have cracked the code on country songwriting.

He's a pretty fine player, too.

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Old 02-15-2019, 11:12 PM
gfsark gfsark is offline
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For what’s it’s worth, I have one of my radio station buttons set on a country music station...to see if I can bond with the sound. And my conclusion after several years of trying to like it, is that modern country seems like total drivel to me. A bit harsh, but I really like some of the older country music. Now Sturgill Simpson is fantastic. But I never hear this type of music on the radio.

So what’s going with modern country, at least what’s played on the local station? My 2 cents: The sound is totally over-produced. Maybe its the Nashville sound, but every darn song is so professional, harmonies ever perfect (electronic harmonization of course), the baritone so resonant, the session players so accomplished, the compression so intense, the melody line so lacking in melody and the lyrics so canned, trite, cliched and void of creativity that I fail to see the attraction.

I also listen to a couple of hip-hop stations. Now I am never, ever going to perform hip-hop, but once in a while, I am turned on by really great lyrics. OK, almost no melody, lots of rhythm but at least sometimes the hip-hoppers have something to say.

This post should be moved to a different sub-forum...

Last edited by gfsark; 02-15-2019 at 11:20 PM.
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Old 02-16-2019, 12:44 AM
jrb715 jrb715 is offline
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Couldn't disagree more. I think you're not only flat out wrong, but I wonder what kind of music you think is worth listening to. 90% of what I play and sing is country music. Sure, most of what you hear on the radio isn't great, but that's just the way art usually works: it's true of movies, plays and especially of music. How much of pop is really interesting? How much of hip-hop, rap? How much of classical? I've spent a lifetime as an artist: a singer, actor, director--and that's just the way it is. But good country music is genuinely interesting and moving--and it's not just the so called edgy stuff of Sturgill Simpson or any of the peripheral artists. The best songs have a kind of wonderful compession that tell a story and the melody carries the song along with the lyrics. Much of Vince Gill's songs, Miranda Lambert's The House that Built Me or Tin Man, Kasey Musgrave's Space Cowboy, a whole bunch of Brooks and Dunn's material including Believe or It's Getting Better All the Time, Keith Urban's songs including Blue Aint Your Color, Sugarland's entire catalogue including the grammy winning Stay, more recently Kip Moore's Come Home With You, Brett Eldredge's One Mississippi or Haven't Met You, Lee Brice's Rumor or Songs in the Kitchen--and I can, and should, keep going on and on. You might not like them, but they are all interesting musically (often borrowing elements of gospel, blues or soul) and are lyrically moving, at least to me. While it is a sort of a cliche, they tell stories that take you for a ride that is much more interesting to me than something like "Uptown Funk" (though I really like Uptown Funk.)

I was pulled into country by Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton, but it's simple ignorance (in the strictest definition: lack of knowledge, understanding or education) that assumes these (along with the usual sentimental favorites of Hank Williams, Sr. Lefty Frizell, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings etc) were the only real country artists, and the only ones worth listening to. I love them all--well, not really wild about Willie Nelson (a particular favorite on AGF, maybe because of his junky guitar)--but they weren't the last real country artists. There've been many extraordinary country artists since they played: have you ever heard the O'Kanes, Keith Whitley or Gus Hardin? (as well as many forgettable artists).

As with all music, you have to hunt for the stuff that really works. But there is in fact a bunch of great songs and great music from contemporary country artists with some of the--well probably the--finest guitar work on contemporary records.

Last edited by jrb715; 02-16-2019 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 02-16-2019, 03:46 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Hi, I'm a Brit, and have spent much of my life listening to the music of the USA.

After the big band and crooner period, I went straight to early Rock by Little Richard (the first R & R song I ever heard) and Bill Haley, thence to Urban/Chicago blues.

Being in the presence of people like the Rolling Stones , Cyril Davies, Alexis Korner and such, I was taught about more country blues, and researched this genre as much as possible in my early to mid teens. By 16-17 - I was busy gigging in an R&B band.

"Country" music came to me via bluegrass (introduced to me by AndrewG) and in my early twenties this music took me over and found myself playing in two gigging bluegrass bands from about '75-79 playing guitar, mandolin and dobro.

"Country music" simply means music (whether black or white) recorded in locale's other than the main professional big city studios - and intended as a record of amateur /semi-pro musicians rather than a commercial enterprise.

To me the "real" country music is about the artists found and commercialised by Ralph Peer - Carter family, Jimmie Rodgers and John Carson etc.

The "Nashville" sound always meant corny, glitzy/cheap, and phoney to me. Over produced, silly clothes and hair styles, and single minded lyrics.
It all sounded much the same, and best avoided.
Modern country - the hat and glitter acts sijmply play pop music.

Fortunately there are many acts that keep real country alive and creative, and as a simple example I'd quote Cahalen Morrison in both his incarnations:

Duo with Eli West: (CM on mando)



and (on banjo)




....and his later material :



and



Sturgill Simpson has already been mentioned.
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Old 02-16-2019, 04:11 AM
JKA JKA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBman View Post
We were at my neighbors' daughter's wedding and a country song got played by the DJ. So I listened. I wondered while I listened, "What puts the 'country' in a country song."

This particular song ended each measure on a down note and resolved each measure within itself in doing so. So it was sort of like ba ba da, ba ba da sort of pattern. It worked. I wonder what other formulas are out there. I'll have to listen to more country stuff and see what else lies within the genre and then see if I can figure out the melodic patterns that make them what they are.

I return you to your normally scheduled programming.....
I'm intrigued by your post. That's an excellent question. I don't have an answer but whenever we play we are always classed as a county/Americana band and we cover songs from Dolly (Jolene, definitely county) to Van (Into the Mystic, not county) Creedence, Leonard Cohen, Madeline Peyroux and a wide variety of other artists.

I always thought thought it was more to do with the way a song was sung than its structure so I'm looking forward to hearing from those who know better than me. Is it not possible to sing/play ANY song and make it country? And if that is the case, could it not also be said the same for folk, jazz, reggae etc?

If a death thrash metal band were to do a cover of say Don Williams 'Amanda' would that still be county or not?
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Old 02-16-2019, 04:33 AM
Nymuso Nymuso is offline
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Depending on the era, I know it when I hear it, and there are some specific (though not always present) identifying characteristics; but I believe Country to be more of a marketing niche aimed at a demographic than anything else.

No one would argue about whether Patsy Cline was a Country artist. That was the market she entered and was accepted in. However, some of her most identifiable work, including but not limited to her recording of Willie Nelson's Crazy, doesn't trip any of the common identifiers indicating a Country tune; certainly not with a full orchestra and chorus backing her. This is not the only example of her work employing these techniques nor is she the only Country artist of the era to have made such recordings. Ray Price and Eddy Arnold come to mind. But because they had already established themselves in the Country market, these songs were accepted as Country songs.

It isn't always cowboy hats, steel guitars and twangs that identify the genre anymore than it is three chord simplicity.
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Old 02-16-2019, 05:46 AM
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I only enjoy this kind of country music.

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Old 02-16-2019, 05:51 AM
The Bard Rocks The Bard Rocks is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfsark View Post
For what’s it’s worth, I have one of my radio station buttons set on a country music station...to see if I can bond with the sound. And my conclusion after several years of trying to like it, is that modern country seems like total drivel to me. A bit harsh, but I really like some of the older country music. Now Sturgill Simpson is fantastic. But I never hear this type of music on the radio.

So what’s going with modern country, at least what’s played on the local station? My 2 cents: The sound is totally over-produced. Maybe its the Nashville sound, but every darn song is so professional, harmonies ever perfect (electronic harmonization of course), the baritone so resonant, the session players so accomplished, the compression so intense, the melody line so lacking in melody and the lyrics so canned, trite, cliched and void of creativity that I fail to see the attraction.
.
So many lovers of country music have said this. To me, modern country music has more in common (musically) to early rock than to early country. What I see as a common factor, thematically, is simple music, simple chords, tied to everyday emotions and problems of the lower and middle class; things many people can relate to. And often sung by folks with interesting voices.

Eddie Arnold, I should add, was both a country and a pop star. In those days you could do both.
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Old 02-16-2019, 06:00 AM
bluesfreek bluesfreek is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Bard Rocks View Post
So many lovers of country music have said this. To me, modern country music has more in common (musically) to early rock than to early country. What I see as a common factor, thematically, is simple music, simple chords, tied to everyday emotions and problems of the lower and middle class; things many people can relate to. And often sung by folks with interesting voices.

Eddie Arnold, I should add, was both a country and a pop star. In those days you could do both.
Indeed when Elvis Presley first hit the scene on Sun Records he recorded his first single with an Arthur Crudup blues song on side A and a Bill Monroe song on side B. Radio stations were not sure what the heck was going on but they played it and the kids loved it and well...the rest is history.
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Old 02-16-2019, 06:33 AM
rstaight rstaight is offline
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I grew up on country. My influences were Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Sr., Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Hawkshaw Hawkins. I loved to listen to Roy Clark play.

The songs were simple and told a story. Some of the same reasons I like Bluegrass.
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Old 02-16-2019, 06:40 AM
Steadfastly Steadfastly is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gfsark View Post
For whatís itís worth, I have one of my radio station buttons set on a country music station...to see if I can bond with the sound. And my conclusion after several years of trying to like it, is that modern country seems like total drivel to me. A bit harsh, but I really like some of the older country music. Now Sturgill Simpson is fantastic. But I never hear this type of music on the radio.

So whatís going with modern country, at least whatís played on the local station? My 2 cents: The sound is totally over-produced. Maybe its the Nashville sound, but every darn song is so professional, harmonies ever perfect (electronic harmonization of course), the baritone so resonant, the session players so accomplished, the compression so intense, the melody line so lacking in melody and the lyrics so canned, trite, cliched and void of creativity that I fail to see the attraction.

I also listen to a couple of hip-hop stations. Now I am never, ever going to perform hip-hop, but once in a while, I am turned on by really great lyrics. OK, almost no melody, lots of rhythm but at least sometimes the hip-hoppers have something to say.

This post should be moved to a different sub-forum...
Not total drivel but it has lost its appeal to me a long time ago. There are a few REAL country artists out there but they are few and far between these days.
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Old 02-16-2019, 07:14 AM
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Find Malcolm Gladwell's podcast from his "Revisionist History" series, the one titled "The King of Tears," for a good take on what country music is about.

It ain't the music.
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Old 02-16-2019, 07:28 AM
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Probably 90% of contemporary country music is crap, just worthless. Except to the millions of contemporary country music fans, lol. I never listen to the radio any more, can't take it. Sickening. But the 10% outliers are outstanding. The 90% is comprised mostly of prissy boys running around all over the stage showing how many tattoos they have, singing about how country they are. Or the wannabe outlaw types.

The best country music these days, to me, is by young females. Some outstanding writing there. And performing. Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Munroe, etc.

I will say that even in the 90%, the songwriting craftsmanship is outstanding, they can flat write. I just don't like the subject matter. And absolutely detest the over-compressed sound of modern Nashville productions. Florida-Georgia Line band... gag.

BTW, maybe the most talented of all country musicians/acts these days is Chris Stapleton, and a big portion of his music, to me, is not even country. Incredible talent and one of the best voices in the history of popular music to my ears.

Texas music / Red Dirt music is more appealing to me but even it has too much "look how country and how badass I am by singing this song." Like with every genre, you just have to find what is worthy to your ears.

Last thing I will say about contemporary country music is that most of it is less country and more pop-rock. Except the young women, examples provided above.
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Old 02-16-2019, 07:44 AM
Mr. Jelly Mr. Jelly is offline
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A really heavy country accent goes a long way in country music. A country good old boy/girl persona helps allot also. Often it's more image than structure. It's purpose is to market a retail product to the most people. So fads of the times are made and broken in the quest for new and fresh sounding music marketed to young people with little or no musical knowledge or experience before their time.
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