Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Eighth note groupings and text setting in Roger Waters' "Pigs On the Wing (Part I)"

This is my analysis of Roger Waters' "Pigs On the Wing (Part I)," the opening track of Pink Floyd's Animals:


I think that after a cursory look, my Excel spreadsheet is pretty straightforward. The eighth note pulse is constant, starting with the 3+3+2 subdivision of 4/4 that is extremely common in strummy guitar rock music. It's often 3 eighths, 3 eighths, 4 sixteenths. Like the verses of this:


Oof. What a bad video.

Or this:


Wow. Super shitty.

And this song plays around with the same stuff:


Yes, of course I count in 4/4. But the underlying "clave" is 3+3+2.

It even carries over into the next track of Animals, just faster:


What I love about "Pigs On the Wing" is how the text dictates the time signatures. This is much like a lot of older country music, actually:


Which is, strangely enough, a lot like this:


If you don't know what I mean, just count to four. Until you can't.

The difference in Roger Waters' example is that the inconsistencies are much more unpredictable and expressive. If I did a similar analysis with "Hey Ya!" the phrases would line up cleanly and evenly. In "Pigs," the bottom of my chart is all gnarly. And that is a result of the text setting--using the eighth notes necessary to get the words out.

And then the album continues after that. For me, this is Pink Floyd's finest. I used to listen to this on cassette on long car trips. If I was cool enough, I'd cite a Syd Barrett album as my favorite. But I can't--Animals is the best.

As long as we're keeping score...listen from 1:41 in "Pigs":


Don't need four beats to set your syllables? Then take one out.

Or maybe you need an extra beat?


"There's a restless feeling knocking at my door today."

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