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September 7, 2011 4:53 PM   Subscribe

40 Noises That Built Pop [parts 234]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (79 comments total) 122 users marked this as a favorite

 
[this is good]
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:00 PM on September 7, 2011


This is just....neat!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:11 PM on September 7, 2011


This makes me think of the process that some of the "musicologists" over at Pandora go through, picking out aspects if instrumentation meticulously in a noble attempt to understand taste in music.
posted by stroke_count at 5:12 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Super cool.

Is it bad that I have used most of those noises on recordings in the last two weeks?
posted by The World Famous at 5:14 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very cool. Though, I'm kind of disappointed there was no mention of the Talk Box.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:20 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


What! No synthesized harmonica solo with pitch bends? Oh wait, that'd be in noises that *almost destroyed* pop...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:24 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of disappointed there was no mention of the Talk Box.

A much more glaring omission is... wah wah guitar. I mean, helloooooo? They did include wah wah clav, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:27 PM on September 7, 2011


stroke_count: "the "musicologists" over at Pandora go through, picking out aspects if instrumentation meticulously in a noble attempt to understand taste in music."

And getting things horribly, horribly wrong. Just because Propagandhi and Nickelback both involve screaming male vocals and distorted power chords does NOT mean people who like one will like the other.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:27 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wah-wah Clav. Heh.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:27 PM on September 7, 2011


I've long felt that the wordless grunts are where rock-and-roll lives. Listen to the sounds Lou Reed makes in "Sweet Jane" when he isn't singing the lyrics and you'll see what I mean.

Also, [this is very good].
posted by benito.strauss at 5:28 PM on September 7, 2011


I'll just be over here listening to #18 on endless loop...
posted by lekvar at 5:34 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It is amazing how long I could listen to some of these. I'll just note two sounds that I think are missing:

1) Funky Drummer. [Put Clyde Stubblefield on the 5-dollar bill!]

2) Not as widely used, but I love the finger cymbals used in West-coast hip-hop.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:43 PM on September 7, 2011


Hey. Two words.

The tambourine.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:45 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Imagine Motown without it?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:46 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I came to this post looking specifically for the Trevor Horn Orchestral Stab, and was not disappointed.

With that, I have to approve of this post and approve of this list.
posted by hippybear at 5:48 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Needs more cowbell.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:49 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is great.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:51 PM on September 7, 2011


This is a great list of 40, and it's simply fun to add to it.

Howsabout... the countoff? In spirit and delivery, they run the gamut, from this to this to... ?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:53 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Agreed, great.

But like when watching television news, the one "sound" I know something about has a description missing key players (inventor Grand Wizard Theodore, modern prodigies at it like Qbert.) So I wonder what's missing in the ones I am green on. This could be just due to a very "rock-centric" author though.
posted by oblio_one at 6:03 PM on September 7, 2011


If you play the main Smoke On The Water riff using power chords, you are playing it wrong.
posted by Ardiril at 6:03 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


ELP FTW!!
posted by goethean at 6:08 PM on September 7, 2011


My favorite countdown.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:14 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


My favorite countdown

D'oh! I SO shoulda thoughta that!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:16 PM on September 7, 2011


Pro tip: at each page, press play in as quick a succession as you can. Instant postmodern collage music!

This should perhaps be included as Noise # 41 on the list.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:18 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is fantastic. I especially liked this:

28) Nile's Hitmaker Strat
Chic: Good Times (1979)
The American songwriter's royalty collection society, the Harry Fox Agency, once estimated that over $2bn worth of music had flowed through Nile Rodgers' Fender guitar, a 1959-60 Stratocaster model that Rodgers once modestly referred to as "this cheap little thing".


I've never considered the idea of placing a price tag on a particular sound rather than a person. We're so focused on the idea that creative genius lies in the person who writes the lyrics or the chord progression, that we ignore the role of the people who determine the sonic architecture of a song. The words "these are the good times" isn't what made that Chic song so memorable, it was (among other things) the chink-chink-chingaliglink of the guitar...
posted by googly at 6:26 PM on September 7, 2011


This is really fun.
posted by caddis at 6:33 PM on September 7, 2011


I've been listening to a lot of Stevie Wonder recently and thinking how EVERYONE steals from him. I'm glad to see he made the list not once but twice.
posted by elmer benson at 6:39 PM on September 7, 2011


Number 50-something should be the sound of an electric guitar plugging into an already turned-on and humming amplifier. That sound means you're about to hear some rock.
posted by elmer benson at 6:40 PM on September 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


I always find it fascinating how lots of these things are accidental and completely unpredictable and most of these conventions have come from using something in the wrong context. That Orch5 fairlight sample is such a weird one, how can one very unique and distinctive sound be so essential to a genre?

It reminds me of this section on music thing about micro sounds, which is about the sound design for really short stabs for things like the THX sound and operating system noises. Ding. I think it's really rare that design like that is successful but I don't think I'll ever get bored of 18 by Paul Hardcastle.
posted by pmcp at 6:45 PM on September 7, 2011


Wait, no. I'm bored of 18 by Paul Hardcastle now.
posted by pmcp at 6:46 PM on September 7, 2011


Never thought I'd think "More Cowbell" and be talking about a Whitney Houston song. (#31)
posted by thorny at 6:47 PM on September 7, 2011


So when are we gonna have a Metafilter Music contest to see who can fit the most of these into one song?
posted by buriednexttoyou at 7:02 PM on September 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


So when are we gonna have a Metafilter Music contest to see who can fit the most of these into one song?

I would be on that challenge so fast.
posted by The World Famous at 7:13 PM on September 7, 2011


The two countdowns which seem to lurk in my mind are these two.
posted by hippybear at 7:21 PM on September 7, 2011


So when are we gonna have a Metafilter Music contest to see who can fit the most of these into one song?

Lessee... I can source a plug-in for the cowbell, 808, 303, Fairlight and Clavinet and Mellotron...
Nope, no Chuck Rainey VST. I'll have to sit this one out.
posted by lekvar at 7:27 PM on September 7, 2011


Best countoff? This one.
posted by The World Famous at 7:27 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Awesome list, i really enjoyed that:

Here are some classic sounds of dance music that they left out:

The supersaw, which is audible at starting at 1:20 here.

The plucked string Pizacotto sound that was much used in the 90s -- notably at the beginning of Insomnia.

The hoover.

The 'rave piano' chords played through a sampler.

The stuttered vocal edit. (throughout the track)
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on September 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Very interesting! I just went through the whole thing reading bits aloud to the husband and playing them (gotta get better speakers for the laptop — ugh).

I did like #39; as somebody whose inner child wears a t-shirt that says in large type "NEVER BEEN HIP" it was interesting to realize that the very first time I heard "Firestarter" I thought "oh, they sampled 'Close (To the Edit)'."

Note to the youngsters in the crowd: It's not clichéd; it was the early '80s and they were inventing the clichés.
posted by Lexica at 7:36 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


The B3 and Leslie combo is much older than the '60s. Jimmy Smith's B3 was kicking Matt Fisher's M101's ass ten years before A Whiter Shade of Pale.
posted by The White Hat at 7:39 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and the pulsing side-chained bass which was used to an extreme by Benny Benassi.
posted by empath at 7:45 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


empath, whenever you drop knowledge I get this mental picture of a robed priest of electronica. Sort of like Guru from the You Know My Steez video crossed with Rowan Williams.

This is a great post, I love pop musicology!
posted by mindsound at 7:46 PM on September 7, 2011


Billy Bragg is indeed the best example.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:09 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The B3 and Leslie combo is much older than the '60s. Jimmy Smith's B3 was kicking Matt Fisher's M101's ass ten years before A Whiter Shade of Pale.

Well, hey, if you wanna get into all that, we'd need to acknowledge that James Brown's "Eugh!" dates back to prehistory.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:12 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then there is the flanger, first used in the 1960s -- (it kind of sounds like a jet taking off...)

preverb -- where they play the reverb from the sound BEFORE the sound... you can hear it in drums at the beginning of Photograph. (along with some cowbell, later)

The delay, much used in trance, but also in guitar rock like U2. Listen to the difference between how "Streets With No Name" sounds with and without delay.
posted by empath at 8:14 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Empath, "The Big Hurt" is hilarious!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:25 PM on September 7, 2011


The pick slide.
posted by edverb at 8:31 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empath, "The Big Hurt" is hilarious!

That was actually done when an engineer accidentally leaned against a tape while double-tracking, supposedly.
posted by empath at 8:34 PM on September 7, 2011


1, 2, 3...hit it!
posted by bonefish at 8:37 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a sound that I don't believe has a name - it uses a delay with syncopated picking to make a DUM da DIDDLA DUM rolling beat. Thing Pink Floyd's 'One of these Days', 'Run Like Hell' the Dr Who theme, various U2 stuff.

Fun to play and listen to!
posted by Sebmojo at 8:37 PM on September 7, 2011


And then when you finish that, take that little paragraph about the Amen Break and go watch a detailed 20-minute explanation of just that sound.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:39 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you really, really want to geek out about the Amen Break, set aside 20 minutes and listen to this.
posted by maudlin at 8:41 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn it!
posted by maudlin at 8:41 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait. WAIT.

The world's best riff ever is missing.

And seriously, it's been everywhere, and used by everyone from Buddy Holly to The Who to The Band to Bruce Springsteen to Ace Frehley to Bowie to Pat Benetar to U2 to George Michael (I will spare you his) to even more.

That should be a sound, dammit.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:11 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Very good call, EmpressCallipygos.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:21 PM on September 7, 2011


Wow, that's a pretty good list. And a great idea for a list, too.

How about the leisurely minor-chord strum + whammy bar, as heard in countless surf-y things?
posted by equalpants at 9:39 PM on September 7, 2011


My only gripe with this list is the sample for #29 shouldn't be a Phil Collins track from 1984, but a Peter Gabriel track from 1980 called "Intruder."

Unfortunately due to copyright... blah blah... youtube..... blocked.... claim by UMG... Dunkirk... dark days of the war... backs to the wall... Alvar Liddell... Berlin air lift... moral upheaval of Profumo case... young hippies roaming the streets, raping, looting and killing.

Yours etc., Brigadier Arthur Gormanstrop (Mrs).
posted by chimaera at 10:20 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Two almost unforgivable errors in an otherwise pretty good piece. Entry no.4 Fretless Bass they name "Japan: Talking Drum" (1981). Everyone knows that Jaco Pastorius' solo album came out five years earlier, back in 1976 (when he also appeared that year on Weather Report's "Black Market"album) and knocked the jazz and, (arguably the pop) world on its ass with his creative fretless playing genius.

Secondly, for 10) Slap Bass they credit Stanley Clarke: Lopsy Lu (1974). Slap bass was being done already, in lesser doses, by several players, notably Wilton Felder --and then Pops Popwell-- of the [Jazz] Crusaders.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:18 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here are some classic sounds of dance music that they left out:

And no love for The Ohio Players Funky Worm synth line that's launched a zillion hip-hop tracks.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:19 PM on September 7, 2011


Let's not forget the I - V - vi - IV chord progression, which seems to be mandatory these days.
posted by kurumi at 11:39 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The songs they use are just examples, not the first songs that used them.
posted by empath at 11:40 PM on September 7, 2011


Every once in a while I am reminded that the 303 exists, and then have to go scour YouTube for every acid house track I can find. Could someone just give me a list of artists (or preferably albums) I can just start with?
posted by cthuljew at 11:52 PM on September 7, 2011


You're talking about literally thousands of songs.


Here's the discography from Generation Ecstasy though, that's a decent start (search for 'acid')
posted by empath at 12:08 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, this was written by MeFi's own Rhodri.
posted by minifigs at 2:03 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The songs they use are just examples, not the first songs that used them.

True, but I'll stand behind Seekofsplendor's remark that they should've used something from Jaco Pastorius as an example of the fretless bass sound. It's surprising to me that the electric fretless bass is such a versatile instrument in that it can have such a variety of sounds by adjusting the eq settings on the instrument and the amp, but it seems like almost everyone in the post-Jaco era cops a Jaco sound while they're playing a fretless bass.*

Admittedly, I'm one of those bass players who grew up playing the upright in orchestra and jazz band, then switched to electric, then bought a fretless when someone in college hipped me to "Jaco Pastorius." I played the fretless bass terribly because I never worked hard at doing it right, but I totally tried to get that nasal-y Jaco tone when that was not my tone at all on my fretted bass.
posted by elmer benson at 2:26 AM on September 8, 2011


As the chap who wrote it, just wanted to say thanks for not hating it, heh.

Just a point to @Seekerofsplendor – the examples 'n' samples aren't meant to be the first occurrences of the noises! Just something for people to listen to to understand what I'm referring to. Some of them are indeed the earliest examples, but occasionally I went for a more well-known one... or just one that I preferred and wanted to shoehorn in there.
posted by rhodri at 2:57 AM on September 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oh, someone just said that. Oh. Sorry. Yes, I should have mentioned Jaco. Apologies for that, too.
posted by rhodri at 2:57 AM on September 8, 2011


Amazed that no-one has mentioned the backbeat snare yet. The kick-snare-kick-snare beat is what defined the emergence of rock and roll and it hasn't budged since, surviving metal, punk and dance with impunity.

Other things I missed -- the dominant seventh chord, the blue third, Everley brothers' harmonies, transistor organ, eighth-note bass, ii-V7-I, piano octaves, dotted eighth-note guitar (the Edge) and so on and so on...
posted by unSane at 4:10 AM on September 8, 2011


This was great! I especially liked the multiple XTC references.
posted by chinston at 7:12 AM on September 8, 2011


So when are we gonna have a Metafilter Music contest to see who can fit the most of these into one song?

Redundant. Contest already won for all eternity everywhere by (presumed non-Mefite) Robert John "Mutt" Lange several times over. His prize is I believe he owns several entire cantons of Switzerland now and protects them with a fence made of uncashed Shania Twain and Def Leppard royalty cheques.

Also, my nomination for the appended list:

Drop D tuning (aka the Nirvana sound)

I have a hazy memory that might be false of reading somewhere Kurt Cobain was taught drop D by someone from the Melvins because he wanted to emulate the sludginess of their sound.
posted by gompa at 7:57 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One more: the fuzz pedal. (The documentary on which - previously on the blue - is an endlessly fascinating curio and music-geek essential viewing.)

Man, I bet Mudhoney would've been some kinda fun to see in a sweaty smoky bar circa 1989 . . .
posted by gompa at 8:11 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


at each page, press play in as quick a succession as you can. Instant postmodern collage music!

How? Are there samples? I can't find any sound-file linkage on these pages. Must I search, elsewhere? I want to hear!
posted by Rash at 8:34 AM on September 8, 2011


Hey, what about bass guitar! No one has yet mentioned bass guitar. And, and, and 4/4!
posted by Ardiril at 9:33 AM on September 8, 2011


That was fun and informative.
Such a great use of the internet.
posted by joost de vries at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2011


Ah, I see the (Flash-based) samples now -- I was using the wrong browser.
posted by Rash at 11:10 AM on September 8, 2011


Great article rhodri, and thanks for posting GNFTI!
posted by Acey at 3:41 PM on September 8, 2011


The delay, much used in trance, but also in guitar rock like U2. Listen to the difference between how "Streets With No Name" sounds with and without delay.
posted by empath at 8:14 PM on September 7 [1 favorite +] [!]


I prefer the Bill Bailey demonstration of this point
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:20 PM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


haven't read the full thread, have read the article(s). Nowhere does the name Led Zeppelin come up, or John Bonham. Jimmy Page does get mentioned but only in passing as someone who utilized a theremin.

I see this as a big problem.

Which doesn't make it all a disastrously uninteresting read, but man is it incomplete.
posted by philip-random at 3:03 PM on September 11, 2011


awesome
posted by AlliSchnur at 9:09 PM on September 11, 2011


pop ≠ rock
posted by unSane at 10:34 AM on September 12, 2011


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