googled06bb313055e587a.html Rock N Roll Rehab for the Control Of Rock and Roll Starring Greg Piper and The Tooners: The Dynamic Society's Child

The Dynamic Society's Child

In a previous blog I was bemoaning the lack of dynamics in modern rock. Music these days is compressed to eliminate all the highs and lows from the volume and the speed is as constant as a drum machine, which many times it is.

A great example of dynamics is the song Society's Child by Janis Ian. I've been reading her autobiography, also titled Society's Child, and was surprised to learn that the song is not autobiographical. It seems so personal, even painful, but it's just a lyric she wrote "in character" and not from an actual experience of hers. The other surprise was when she dismissed the song as an early attempt at song writing and lamented that it wasn't even "in time". But Society's Child's slowing and speeding tempo is what gives it its drama and charm and uniqueness. It's a dramatic song and drama come from conflict and is inherently "uneven". Drama waxes and wanes, it builds and releases and it speed up and slows down. Opera and musical theater have no problem with changing tempos in a tune and pop songs shouldn't be any different. 

The problem with tempo changes in a Pop or Rock song is when the song is considered a dance song which would require a steady beat. People like to dance at the same tempo, not speed up or slow down. However, no one can call Society's Child a disco tune.

Society's Child is a great song and a great example of the sound of the Sixties with its harpsichord into and Jazz organ coda. I always liked harpsichords as in the tunes Walk Away Rene by the Left Banke and Love Is Blue by Paul Mauriat. In fact, when I was looking for an unusual sound for the intro to The Tooners' song Let Others Dream (Rocktasia CD) my wife jokingly suggested harpsichord but the joke was on her, that was exactly what I used.

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