Thursday, March 22, 2012

Musical difficulties, by the Fool

The instruction (from Beorbrand, bless his little cotton socks) was to write a Joe Cocker version of an Irish jig. Hmmm, said I, OK. Sure. Sounds intriguing.

Well, it was intriguing all right, but it certainly wasn't successful. First, here's the finished product, as an abc file and as a wav file. Well, it's not really finished, as there is a whole lot more could be done to it, but not now. That will be a project for another day.

Clearly, it's not a jig. And it doesn't sound Irish. And it doesn't sound like Joe Cocker, either, which is the worst thing of all. I'm not saying it sounds bad. It doesn't. Especially the second half, where the drum beat changes, it has a nice groove. But it's not what I was trying for.

Now, I'm really interested in how music works, or how it doesn't, so it's intriguing to me why this piece doesn't sound like I wanted. Joe Cocker aficionados will recognise many of the note patterns, as some of them are taken straight from Cocker songs. Some will recognise the chord structure, which again is typical Cocker. The lute is playing a straight Cocker guitar line.

So you put all this together, it should work, right? Heh, well, it doesn't. One obvious response is that I didn't even try to do a jig, but that's not really helpful. Early on I converted to a reel rhythm, rather than a jig rhythm, so that was intentional.

I think that the real problem is the rhythm section. The horns, particularly in their lower register, can sound very grunty, and do good brass lines, but the bass and guitars... well, they are killed by lack of punch and too much sustain. I've complained about this before, I seem to recall, but it never hurts to complain again, I suppose. And the drums are, well, wimpy. I just cannot get that funky punch, that... that... whatever it is that makes Cocker Cocker.

Mind you, maybe it's just me. I don't believe it is, but if someone can come up with a better Cocker sound, I'd love to know how they did it. This isn't false modesty. I'm not modest. But I'm genuinely interested in learning, and if someone can do it better, I want to analyse what they've done. (I've learned a lot about Lotro Latin music by looking carefully at Anarwald's pieces, and talking to him about them, for example.)

Some things work well in Lotro. Gentle harp music. Renaissance airs. Baroque counterpoints. I'm quite sure that is the intended music for Lotro, and that my style is not what is desired. So in that sense the designers have succeeded.

But it is frustrating.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know about others, but it sounds very 80s retro-ish, so I guess you have a bit of your Joe Cocker there.
    Certainly not Irish nor Jig though, but just the idea of a 'Joe Cocker Irish Jig' is maddening already. lol

    I've been trying to take a Celtic Medieval sound and work some modern chords into it, and it ended up neither Celtic nor Medieval anymore so I feel you there. XD