The Analytic Method:
Comprehensive Theory for the Modern Songwriter and Producer
Due to technological advancements, the role of the musician has changed dramatically in the 20th and 21st centuries. The ever-changing music industry brings new demands to the musicians within it, and for the composer or songwriter especially, it is becoming increasingly expected for them to have some familiarity with music production, arrangement, and engineering, so that they are able to provide a finished product to employers, clients, or listeners. Of course, one of the primary goals of successful songwriting or composition is to portray the originally intended musical idea or affect in the most effective possible way. Likewise, one of the goals of successful production, arrangement, or engineering is to most effectively create, organize, form, and mix the recording to best bring out this originally intended musical goal.
Music theory is seen by some modern musicians as a dense, nebulous academic fog that is only semi-relevant to their musical goals. This is, of course, an inaccurate and self-impeding way to think of it. Music theory is quite broad, and could be described as the understanding of music in itself. It is the underlying conceptual foundation for all musical decision-making, and it is inevitably utilized by even those musicians who are not familiar with it. A decision as simple as playing a single chord on a guitar, or humming simple melody, falls within theory’s explanatory reach. Analysis, a particular application of music theory, has the ability to reveal important characteristics in a musical work. One of its greatest strengths is that it can explain why a particular song, passage, or musical detail is expressive, significant, or evocative.
Naturally, it seems that the awareness gained from musical analysis can well-inform the modern songwriter, producer, and engineer to make more effective musical decisions. However, as it is at the time of writing this book, this is fairly new conceptual territory. The relationship between musical analysis and modern songwriting, production, and engineering is explored in the following pages. We will discover how music analysis can allow for the creation of a more effective song, musical production, or recording. A few of history’s most successful popular recordings are analyzed in detail, and from there, we can begin to unlock and codify the key elements that make them so successful. This process will then be summarized into an approach called the “Analytic Method”. I hope that, in these pages, you will find this method useful, and find information that can aid you in the endless pursuit of musical growth.