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Sebastian: Pink Floyd03 Aug 2004 00:05
Last two/three weeks (after finishing the `Lap` analysis) I`ve been more focused in my old project of general rock songwriters biography. Now I want to include bands too (hence the "pros and cons" thread). I admit I hesitated from discussing PF a lot of times in the past because I admire them too much and couldn`t make objective commentaries about them. So, now, for a start:

---------

Short biography: Basically the band was formed by Syd (guitar/vocals), Roger (bass/vocals), Nick (drums) and Richard (keyboards/vocals). The name comes from two bluesmen: Pink Anderson and Floyd council. The band started playing simple R&B 60s music but then led into their classic approach of stretching out songs with weird psychodelic passages (with strange echoes, guitar effects, organ licks, etc). Syd was the main composer and singer, and he was a genius (in the matter that he had an IQ above the standards, apparently Axl was exceptionally gifted as well). But he was also mentally instable, and that got worse from time to time. After the first album was recorded, Dave Gilmour was brought in to replace Syd on tours, but finally Syd quit the band to make a solo career.

Pink Floyd continued, now leadered by Roger (in terms of songwriting) and Dave (vocalwise). Roger would write almost all the album tracks (as Pete in `The Who`), until 1983, when they split up after their album `The Final Cut`. Three years later they reunited (without Roger) and now David was the main songwriter. Different to other old bands, they did include additional musicians a lot (e.g. Guy Pratt on bass & backing vocals, after Roger left).

The most commercially succesful era is the Roger one, by far. `Division Bell` was their second post-Roger album (released in 1994), and is as hated as `Hot Space` by the band`s fans; I personally love it, although it is in fact very different to the classic PF, but that`s obvious considering the songwriter changed.

---

BAND`S POPULARTY

Water`s era enbraced an enormous success for Pink Floyd, which is one of the most idolized musical groups of last century. Their key of success was to "win" in each and every competition possible; hence Pink Floyd had, arguably:

- The best singles (Money, Another Brick In The Wall...). Plus, none of those singles were truly pop songs, so they had never had "sold out" accusations (except perhaps for the `Division Bell` album, which isn`t Roger-era).

- The best albums (Dark Side Of The Moon, The Wall)

- The best concerts (both show-wise and musically)

- The best album covers

- The best lyrics

- The best use of special effects and daily objects (e.g. clocks)

- The best arrangements

- The best guitar player

- The best videos

- The most magical guitar solos

- The most sophisticated "scandals": Instead of gay or drug incidents, their myths and legends attract more and more fans (e.g. is Comfortably Numb about intoxication?...).


David Gilmour also got the best of both world and is a top admired player for both standard and exotic tastes: by one side, his style is immediatly recognizable, and by other he`s 999.999 in a million (i.e. yet another bluesy influenced guitarist using Stratocaster). So both sides are satisfied.

His solos are very strong and popular in double edge as well: they`re not rooky, but they`re easy enough to be attempted by guitar students as soon as possible (around a year, depends on how hard they practice), and by other side the melodies are so memorable. Litherally millions of Pink Floyd tabs are sold and downloaded each year worldwide.

Another key aspect in their success was perhaps the absence of frontman (a singer not playing instrument). Many prog fans (including me) tend to prefer the image of a singer playing something, than just holding the mic and moving around the stage. They (we) tend to like that, visually. Even though many times David sang without playing (normally he would only play the solos, during which there was no singing part), he always was hanging the guitar (like Brian May in many songs of his solo tours, except `Another World` at the encore).

As a band itself, Pink Floyd was not so much equitative (as opposed to GnR, for instance). Nick was all the time just a drummer, didn`t take part in singing or composing (except the odd band co-writing credit). "The band was just one person / two people" and "they changed their line-ups" tend to be the usual arguments used by Pink Floyd "attackers".

-------

SONGWRITING:

As mentioned before, Pink Floyd was basically a one songwriter band. Their complexity was more in the arrangements and solos (which I wouldn`t call complex, but sophisticated), more than in sonwriting itself (except the Barret era). Their bluesy influence is more or less clear there: songs are usually very long, use four/five phrases (with ocassional variants), and all sections, solos, melodies... are done over those progressions. Syd Barret`s album (aka. Pink Floy`d debut album) is apparently very complex in terms of forms and harmony.

I personally haven`t listened `Piper` in a very long time, and I don`t have it anymore since I moved here. While it should have been recognized as the first truly psychodelic album ever, it had the bad luck of selling zero in the States so that position was instead given to Sgt Pepper`s (released the same year, two months before). The central piece, Interstal Overdrive (nice title btw), is an intricate acyclic ten minute number, with a weird structure-less interlude. I consider though that a "sense-less" chain of sections isn`t as meritory as a "concept" one (e.g. March Of The Black Queen). That`s the only album anyway where dissonances appear in a high extent. Roger`s and David`s era are very simple harmonically, normally only the standard chords are used.
1.Sebastian 03 Aug 2004 12:31

THE WALL SONGFORMS:

--

In The Flesh:

Intro I - Intro II - Intro III - Verse - Intro III` - Ending

--

Another Brick In The Wall Part I:

Intro - Verse - Chorus - Extended Intro

--

The Happiest Days Of Our Lives:

Intro I - Intro II - Verse
-----------Intro II - Bridge - Break


--

Another Brick In The Wall Part II:

Verse - Chorus
Verse - Chorus - Solo - Outro


--

Goodbye Blue Sky:

Intro I - Intro II - Intro III - Verse
---------- Intro II`- Intro III`- Verse
---------- Intro II``------------ Chorus - Intro II```


* Intro II = Intro III (same progression). Chorus is a variation of that too

--

Empty Spaces:

Intro I - Intro II - Verse

--

Young Lust:

Chorus - Break - Bridge
Verse --- Break - Bridge - Solo - Outro


--

One Of My Turns:

Intro - Verse - Bridge
Break/Solo --- Bridge`


--

Don`t Leave Me Now:

Intro - Verse
Intro`- Verse - Break - Outro


--

Another Brick In The Wall Part III:

Intro - Verse - Chorus

--

Goodbye Cruel World:

Intro - Verse - Chorus - Verse

--

Hey You:

Instrumental Verse` - Verse - Chorus
Instrumental Verse``- Verse - Chorus - Solo - Bridge
Instrumental Verse``- Verse - Chorus


--

Is There Anybody Out There:

Intro I - Intro II - Verse - Chorus

* Intro II is being "played" by voices (accompanied by orchestra), verse and chorus are being "sung" by fingerpicked acoustic guitar

--

Nobody Home:

Intro I - Intro II - Verse
---------- Bridge - Verse
---------- Bridge - Verse`


--

Vera:

Intro ----- Verse - Spacer
Bridge- - Verse`

--

Bring The Boys Back Home:

Intro - Verse - Outro

--

Comfortably Numb:

Intro - Verse - Verse - Verse - Chorus (BCBD) - Solo (BC) - Chorus Ending (D)
-------------------- Verse - Verse - Chorus (BCBD) - Solo (Verse repetition fade)


--

The Show Must Go On:

Intro - Chorus - Pre/Verse - Verse - Chorus`

--

Run Like Hell:

Intro I - Intro II - Verse
Intro I`- Intro II`- Verse - Solo


--

Waiting For The Worms:

Intro ----- Verse - Chorus - Spacer
Bridge -- Verse - Brick ref- Verse - Outro (BrickRef ostinato)


--

Stop:

Pre/Verse - Verse - Pre/Verse`

-------------

Many Outro sections and Intro I (in the cases of songs with multiple intros) are made up of non-musical sounds (people talking, machines, etc). This album is very much a concept one considering the cross-references many songs make to each other (e.g. Waiting For The Worms and the three Another Brick In The Wall).

Interestingly enough, this album (released in 1979) marked the end of two important rock movements: symphonic rock (ELO, ELP...), and the use of acoustic fingerpicked guitar (Hey You, Goodbye Blue Sky, Is There Anybody Out There). The latter was origined in middle sixties by people like Cat Stevens. Beatles fell for that too (And I Love Her, Julia, Dear Prudence, Blackbird), and Led Zeppelin too (Babe I`m Gonna Leave You and the third album). Fingerpicked classic intros abund from that era: Moonshadow, The Sound Of Silence, Scareburough Fair, The Boxer, Dust In The Wind, Angie (so-so), Yesterday (so-so).  Yes guitarist Steve Howe was a major representant of that tendency. A very interesting piece of that era is Mick Ronson`s The Empty Bed (1975); That should be just as famous as the others in my opinion, but it lacked enough promotion.

That acoustic wave had its limitations though: either you used electric or you used acoustic, not both (unless you separate them in sections like in Stairway To Heaven), and there was hardly ever an acoustic soloWith `The Wall` Pink Floyd kind of marked the end, and with the change of decade acoustic guitars became almost banned of rock. Steve Howe`s work in Asia is much more electric, and people like George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon were now often seen with Stratocasters. General pop tendency was now synth-oriented, and hard rock preferred guitar virtuosos (Vai, Malmsteen, Hammett, Satriani, Van Halen, Campbell) whose "mission" was to make a lot of noise. So acoustic wasn`t an option.

Both movements returned in late 80s: Michael Kamen conducted the orchestra for Eric`s Lethal Weapon, in 1987. In the years to come the rock/symphony combination would become very common (Eternal Flame, Everything I Do I Do It For You, All For Love, November Rain, Nothing Else Matters, symphonic versions of classics like Wind Of Change, Dream On, Dust In The Wind...). Acoustic returned to rock basically in 1989 (Kiss`s Forever, Tesla`s Love Song, GnR`s Patience). During the 90s it`d become very popular in both hit singles (More Than Words, Hole Hearted, Tears In Heaven), and reinforced with lots of MTV Unpluggeds (Nirvana, Kiss, Eagles, Aerosmith...) and Acoustic Concerts (Scorpions, David Bowie...). Andrew Lloyd Weber`s No Matter What (from Whistle Down The Wind) also includes classical acoustic solo.

That decade of "sleep" was nicely reflected in Queen: Save Me and Sail Away Sweet Sister (both recorded in June/July 1979) are the last orchestra+rock/acoustic&electric constrast they made for a long time. Flash Gordon had either rock or orchestra, but not both at the same time. The acoustic part didn`t return to the band in big scale except for their #1 hit Innuendo, but Brian did fall for that tendency in his first solo album (e.g. the solo of Too Much Love). As for orchestras, Queen re-entered on it mainly because of Mercury`s recent classical project. Most of his songs in the last band albums reflect symphonic influences and parts (Hitman, Innuendo, Bijou, Don`t Try So Hard, All God`s People, Miracle, Was It All Worth It). After he died, the others carried on that tendency too: Roger recorded Foreign Sand with an orchestra, Brian added (synth) string quartet to his Too Much Love, John included a classical quote as he re-arranged Fred`s It`s A Beautiful Day for Made In Heaven.

Nonetheless, Brian May had already had several "too early" ideas in both fields: Who Wants To Live Forever would be probably a huge hit five years later, but at the time it wasn`t. Both `39 and Someday One Day already had acoustic & electric contrasts (as opposed to acoustic or electric), that were "forbidden" in the 70s but somehow a little common in the 90s.

Talking about Queen, I find many cross-references between their last projects and Pink Floyd`s The Wall:

- Show Must Go On title and ending (the way it`s harmonized). Note that Waters also wrote Empty Spaces, which is the first lyric of Queen`s TSMGO.

- In The Flesh & Is There Anybody Out There have that inside out arrangement (they`re "sung" by the guitar and in the middle there`s a "vocal solo") that was used in Bijou.

- Autobiographical lyrics (Was It All Worth It, Kashoggi`s Ship)

- "Change of life" messages (Breakthru, TSMGO)

- Goodbye Blue Sky has birds singing in the intro with some strings fading in, just like It`s A Beautiful Day

- Irony (Slightly Mad)

- The Happiest Days Of Our Lives & These Are The Days Of Our Lives

2.Sebastian 06 Aug 2004 20:26
Arguably Roger`s best (and most clever) composition is Money. The form is something like this:

Intro - Verse - Verse - Sax Solo - Guitar Solo - Instrumental Break - Bass Solo - Synth/Organ Solo - Break II - Break III - Verse - Outro

The Intro is more or less the typical from Roger`s compositions: non-musical noises (in this case coins and bills producing machines, etc), with a musical instrument fading in (in this case bass). The solos are based on variations of the same progression.

Somebody told me sometime that he believed Fred based on this track to do the form of Great King Rat (intro, then a couple of verses, then a long chain of sections, and then verse again), but as far as I know he hadn`t heard the song since it was released in 1973, same year as GKR, but we do know the latter was written around `70-`71 thanks to the demos
3.Sebastian 08 Aug 2004 20:03
And that`s another pre-BoRhap video btw
4.PD 08 Aug 2004 20:54
> Arguably Roger`s best (and most clever) composition is Money.
In terms of harmony it's pretty basic. In terms of rhythm it's indeed clever.
On Dark Side there are a couple of songs I admire for their clever harmony. I have not heard the Wall for a long while, but according to my vague memories it's dominated by simple functional harmonies.


> Who Wants To Live Forever would be probably a huge hit five years later,
I don't know... Btw the track became a radio-classic over here, and it's still in regular circulation.
 
> And that`s another pre-BoRhap video btw
Was it recorded originally onto video tape?
5.Sebastian 08 Aug 2004 23:47
The Wall reminds me JCS in many ways. Great album, I`ve been listening to it everyday last 1/2 weeks. Echoes video is from 1972. Interestingly enough, the song was first performed in public some weeks before its release, at Montreux.

Money video should be `73-`74, I might be wrong about that one. Who Wants To Live Forever is a song that easily impresses the listeners, no wonder why. I suppose it would be a rock classic if it was released in early 90s (like Nothing Else Matters or November Rain).

There`s a riff in Echoes that foreshadows Phantom Of The Opera overture, another nice Waters-Webber connection. Talking about that, someone said that Friend`s Theme is a modern version of I Feel Fine. And now that I mentioned themes, I think Pokemon Theme (2nd Season) is clearly influenced (even copied) from I`ve Got A Feeling

And since I couldn`t help but go off opic: there`s some traditional Vietnamese music/dance/ritual (whatever) that uses the "stomp stomp clap" percussion with bamboo sticks.  The same pattern.

As for Syd - I think that he (and Lennon btw) are over-rated and mythified to a "musical-god" status, but for the same reason some of their truly innovations/achievements are not even considered.

Clever harmony in DSOTM - maybe Us And Them is the peak together with Gig & Colour. Or Eclipse, what a great ending for a great album. In the case of most Pink Floyd songs I hate the endings, because I don`t want the songs to end.
6.Sebastian 11 Aug 2004 00:40
Another interesting connection: Bike has a "childhood" feeling to it, as well as Bicycle Race. I don`t know how much they`re similar in musical aspects, but not so much as far as I remember - I don`t have here neither of the songs.
7.Sebastian 10 Jan 2005 01:43
The famous infamous Roger`s quote from Q Magazine, November 1992:

"Well, anyway, I am one of the best five writers to come out of English music since the War."
- "Who would rank above you?"
"John Lennon. I'm trying to think... er, I can't think of anybody else. You see, I don't much like listening to records. I'm a bit isolationist and insular. I'd rather be fishing. The list of great writers is very, very short but I am definitely in it. Er, who else is there that's better than me? I really don't know. Freddie Mercury, maybe..."

More quotes like that coming soon in the next Bechstein Debauchery. Keep tuned.
8.PD 10 Jan 2005 15:05
wow. Thats a quite prestigous quote. And also a quite "big-headed" one :).
9.Sebastian 22 Oct 2005 10:00

Short comments on DSoTM:

Breathe:

Same 12-bar section (AAB) done three times, the first of which is instrumental. Key is E Minor, diatonic functions used are i, III, v, VI and VII, one chromatic: IV.

Time:

       /------x3------/
Intro - Verse - Bridge


Key is F#m, six diatonic are used plus the pivot #VII in order to modulate to Em for Breathe Reprise.

The Great Gig In The Sky:

ABAB' form. Key is F Major, four diatonics are used (majors plus ii) and several chromatics: #I, iv, bv, v, bVII. Interestingly the track begins in bv.

Money:

Simple three chord song with repetitive structure. Key is Bm and functions used are i, iv and v.

Us And Them:

AABABAAB form. Key is D. The four basic functions are used plus i, II (V-V), bVII (IV-IV).

Any Colour You Like:

AAAAB form, D Minor key, diatonic used are I, III, v, VI and VII, chromatics are IV and #VII. VII is used as pivot for...

Brain Damage:

Same verse+chorus cycle done three times, the last one instrumental. Key is D Major, functions used are the six diatonic plus I7 (V-IV), II (V-V), IV7 (V-IV-IV), bVII (IV-IV)

Eclipse:

AAAAAAAA' form, D Aeolian key, three chords: I, V, VI.

10.Sebastian 22 Oct 2005 11:33
The Wall - incomplete:

When The Tigers Broke Free: A'AAA. C Major, three majors.

In The Flesh?: ABAB'A. A Major, standard chords except vi.

The Thin Ice: ABAA. C Major, four standards, it uses 1-6-4-5 cliche.

Another Brick In The Wall I: AB. Dm, diatonics: i, III, iv, VII, chromatic: IV

The Happiest Days Of Our Lives: ABCD (acyclic), Dm, six diatonic plus I, ii (vi-IV) and IV.

Another Brick In The Wall II: ABAB. Dm, diatonics: i, III, VII, chromatic: IV

Mother: AA'B AA'B'. G Major, three majors plus bVII (IV-IV).

Goodbye Blue Sky: AA'. D Major, four basic plus v.

Young Lust: ABAB. Fm, diatonics: i, III, iv. Chromatic: IV.

One Of My Turns: AABCD (acyclic). Keys are C (diatonic except vi) and Gm: i, v, VI, VII; ii, IV, #VII. Modulation obtained via bIII-VI.

Don't Leave Me Now: AAA'B. Keys are Bb (I, iii plus iv and VI) and Am (i, iv, VII). Pivot is VI-VII.

Another Brick In The Wall Part III: AB. Dm: i, III, VII; IV.

Goodbye Cruel World: AA'. D Major, three majors.

Hey You: AABC ABC' D AABC". Em, six diatonic plus vii.

Nobody Home: ABBB. C Major, four basic plus I+, II, III, iv

Vera: AA'. Em, six diatonic.

Bring The Boys Back Home: AA'. Em, four basic.

Comfortably Numb: ABB A'B A... B Minor, six diatonic plus bII (IV-VI).

The Show Must Go On: ABB'. G Major, majors plus iii.

In The Flesh: AAA'. A Major, diatonics except vi, one chromatic: bII, which closes the track.

Run Like Hell: AB A'B. Keys are D Major (majors plus i, II and VI), Eb Major (I, IV; bIII), Db Major (I, iii, IV; bVII). Interesting modulations to bII (through III-bIII), to bVII (through ii-iii) and to bII again (through bVII-VI).

Waiting For The Worms: ABB'. G Major, six diatonic.

Stop: ABA'. Em, only that chord occurs.

The Trial: ABCD CEE. Keys are Fm (i, III, VII; I, bII, ii, II, V, #VI) and Bbm (i, III, v, VII; ii, II, IV, #vi, #VI). Phrase modulation to iv.

Outside The Wall: AA'. C Major, four basic.
11.Sebastian 17 Sep 2008 21:02

Just found out that Rick died some days ago. RIP.

12.angel 17 Sep 2008 22:49

Great, great musician. If he had written and played just one "Gig In The Sky", still he would have been a great musician. I think he´s not resting in peace, but jamming along with John Lennon, maybe Syd, Freddie, John Bonham etc.... Mmmm that Heaven must be awesome :D I wanna die... Well... Some years later maybe...

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