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#1 kevvyg

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 06:52 AM

Hi, fellow Rush fans!
I've been a fan of Rush for many years, ever since Bastille Day was released actually. I also play guitar, and have recently started to work my through some of their classics. As you all know, Rush's music can be decidedly complicated, and I wonder if there are any musicians out there with a better understanding of music theory than I, although I'm working at it!
For instance, 2112 is apparently written in D Major. All well and good. D Major is D E F# G A B C#, with the chords produced being D Maj, E min, F# min, G Maj, A Maj, B min, and C# dim.
The chords used in the Intro are F instead of F#, E Maj instead of E min, and A min instead of A Maj. Maybe the F is used as it's D Major's minor 3rd, producing a bluesier feel against the major scale. Also the solo appears to be in A min - mostly pentatonic. How does A min relate to D Maj, and why does the solo 'fit' so well if the piece is indeed in D Maj.
And so on...!!
I know this is getting a bit technical, but I'd really like to know a bit more about how their music actually works the way it does.   wacko.gif  

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#2 Ted Barchetta

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 10:33 AM

Rush aren't really held up in theory, despite their incredible musicianship. They just played what sounded good. I think out of all of them, only Geddy could read music.

And about 2112, I just think they might of changed up the chords of the scale a little bit to heighten musical tension. It fits with the subject matter in that respect.

And it's Prog Rock; Who said you have to stick to a particular key? tongue.gif

#3 kevvyg

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 03:19 AM

QUOTE (Ted Barchetta @ Oct 28 2010, 10:33 AM)
Rush aren't really held up in theory, despite their incredible musicianship. They just played what sounded good. I think out of all of them, only Geddy could read music.

And about 2112, I just think they might of changed up the chords of the scale a little bit to heighten musical tension. It fits with the subject matter in that respect.

And it's Prog Rock; Who said you have to stick to a particular key? tongue.gif

Fair point. Not so sure whether Alex can't read music or not. I certainly believe he must have a good handle on music theory though to come up with those amazing chord progressions. Think of all of the pedal note chord inversion progressions he uses that produce alternative chords. He must know what he's doing there! Also, I agree that it's not necessary to stick to a key signature, in fact Rush are well known for using many keys and time signatures in their music.
Whether Alex just made up stuff that sounded good, or whether he composed stuff, I would be interested in knowing from a music theory point of view, why certain pieces work the way they do. Also, as a guitarist, the theory comes with the territory. In my opinion, when learning any instrument, you become a better musician if you understand what you're playing and why, instead of just playing it blindly. Unless you have perfect pitch, you'd be a rubbish jazz player, if you couldn't follow the key and chord changes!
It is possible that Alex just doodled around the fret board until he randomly came up with 'The Trees', but if you look a little deeper, you'll find that it follows its particular key of D perfectly. Also, for example, Alex uses Cadd9 at the beginning of the 2112 Intro were he could quite happily have used C Major. The difference that the extra 'D' note makes when the sound is distorted as it is in that piece is very minimal, but if you listen carefully, you can just make it out. It's very subtle, but it just adds that extra nuance. He may have used C instead of the expected C# as it's a minor 7th in D major. Also used extensively in blues. He also makes a lot of use of sus2 and sus4 triads. That can't just be luck!

I must also say that Alex is a most under-rated player. In my opinion, he is one of the all time great guitarists, and I wish he'd get more mentions in those TV programmes about 'The World's 10 Greatest Guitarists'. It's always Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, blah, blah...what about Alex Lifeson!!!! He's only been playing in the World's greatest band for over 30 years! Good grief....

KG

Edited by kevvyg, 29 October 2010 - 04:46 AM.


#4 GeddyRulz

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 03:52 AM

QUOTE (kevvyg @ Oct 28 2010, 06:52 AM)
Hi, fellow Rush fans!
I've been a fan of Rush for many years, ever since Bastille Day was released actually. I also play guitar, and have recently started to work my through some of their classics. As you all know, Rush's music can be decidedly complicated, and I wonder if there are any musicians out there with a better understanding of music theory than I, although I'm working at it!
For instance, 2112 is apparently written in D Major. All well and good. D Major is D E F# G A B C#, with the chords produced being D Maj, E min, F# min, G Maj, A Maj, B min, and C# dim.
The chords used in the Intro are F instead of F#, E Maj instead of E min, and A min instead of A Maj. Maybe the F is used as it's D Major's minor 3rd, producing a bluesier feel against the major scale. Also the solo appears to be in A min - mostly pentatonic. How does A min relate to D Maj, and why does the solo 'fit' so well if the piece is indeed in D Maj.
And so on...!!
I know this is getting a bit technical, but I'd really like to know a bit more about how their music actually works the way it does.   wacko.gif

http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/humnet/musicolo...issertation.pdf

Here's one guy's musicology dissertation, which he chose to do on Rush.  It's long, but it gives Rush the intellectual analysis I think the band deserves.  Specific musical examples don't begin until page 71 and are interspersed throughout the remaining pages; scan through and look for music notation.

As said above, I don't think the guys in Rush know a lot of music theory or can even read music.  But reading Bowman's musicology dissertation and his breakdown of specific songs, you get the sense they knew exactly what they were doing when, for example, they chose D# instead of D during a specific passage, etc.





#5 kevvyg

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 04:27 AM

QUOTE (GeddyRulz @ Oct 29 2010, 03:52 AM)
QUOTE (kevvyg @ Oct 28 2010, 06:52 AM)
Hi, fellow Rush fans!
I've been a fan of Rush for many years, ever since Bastille Day was released actually. I also play guitar, and have recently started to work my through some of their classics. As you all know, Rush's music can be decidedly complicated, and I wonder if there are any musicians out there with a better understanding of music theory than I, although I'm working at it!
For instance, 2112 is apparently written in D Major. All well and good. D Major is D E F# G A B C#, with the chords produced being D Maj, E min, F# min, G Maj, A Maj, B min, and C# dim.
The chords used in the Intro are F instead of F#, E Maj instead of E min, and A min instead of A Maj. Maybe the F is used as it's D Major's minor 3rd, producing a bluesier feel against the major scale. Also the solo appears to be in A min - mostly pentatonic. How does A min relate to D Maj, and why does the solo 'fit' so well if the piece is indeed in D Maj.
And so on...!!
I know this is getting a bit technical, but I'd really like to know a bit more about how their music actually works the way it does.   wacko.gif

http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/humnet/musicolo...issertation.pdf

Here's one guy's musicology dissertation, which he chose to do on Rush.  It's long, but it gives Rush the intellectual analysis I think the band deserves.  Specific musical examples don't begin until page 71 and are interspersed throughout the remaining pages; scan through and look for music notation.

As said above, I don't think the guys in Rush know a lot of music theory or can even read music.  But reading Bowman's musicology dissertation and his breakdown of specific songs, you get the sense they knew exactly what they were doing when, for example, they chose D# instead of D during a specific passage, etc.

That's certainly the kind of thing I'm looking for! I'll read it with interest!
Thanks,

KG  biggrin.gif  

#6 Show Don't Tell

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Posted 29 October 2010 - 10:39 PM

QUOTE (GeddyRulz @ Oct 29 2010, 04:52 AM)
QUOTE (kevvyg @ Oct 28 2010, 06:52 AM)
Hi, fellow Rush fans!
I've been a fan of Rush for many years, ever since Bastille Day was released actually. I also play guitar, and have recently started to work my through some of their classics. As you all know, Rush's music can be decidedly complicated, and I wonder if there are any musicians out there with a better understanding of music theory than I, although I'm working at it!
For instance, 2112 is apparently written in D Major. All well and good. D Major is D E F# G A B C#, with the chords produced being D Maj, E min, F# min, G Maj, A Maj, B min, and C# dim.
The chords used in the Intro are F instead of F#, E Maj instead of E min, and A min instead of A Maj. Maybe the F is used as it's D Major's minor 3rd, producing a bluesier feel against the major scale. Also the solo appears to be in A min - mostly pentatonic. How does A min relate to D Maj, and why does the solo 'fit' so well if the piece is indeed in D Maj.
And so on...!!
I know this is getting a bit technical, but I'd really like to know a bit more about how their music actually works the way it does.   wacko.gif

http://www.humnet.ucla.edu/humnet/musicolo...issertation.pdf

Here's one guy's musicology dissertation, which he chose to do on Rush.  It's long, but it gives Rush the intellectual analysis I think the band deserves.  Specific musical examples don't begin until page 71 and are interspersed throughout the remaining pages; scan through and look for music notation.

As said above, I don't think the guys in Rush know a lot of music theory or can even read music.  But reading Bowman's musicology dissertation and his breakdown of specific songs, you get the sense they knew exactly what they were doing when, for example, they chose D# instead of D during a specific passage, etc.

Cool find! Worth a read for sure.

As for them being able to read music, I'm sure Geddy can, since he writes most of his stuff on piano and a knowledge of musical theory would come in very handy when writing both bass lines and vocal melodies. Also, Alex did study classical guitar, no? That would definitely count for something. Not sure about Pratt. I doubt he can read musical notation. Why would he need to? Perhaps drum music notation.

#7 ColdFireYYZ

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Posted 30 October 2010 - 03:07 PM

QUOTE (Show Don't Tell @ Oct 29 2010, 10:39 PM)
Not sure about Pratt. I doubt he can read musical notation. Why would he need to? Perhaps drum music notation.

I doubt Neil can read musical notation. I know he used to play piano for a little while as a kid, but chances are he doesn't remember much.  




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