Adam Neely Reharmonizes Everything!
January 10, 2020 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Do you like your jazz chords that are just a little bit spicy? Do you also like the goddess of pop, Carly Rae Jepsen? You're in luck because it just so happens the Internet's favorite Jazz teacher, Adam Neely, and his crew have reharmonized "Run Away With Me".

Previous Reharmonizations:
Clarity
thank u, next
Hello
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you ever eaten a pepper so spicy you felt like you could see through the fabric of spacetime to a whole mysterious, apparently-nonsense, and yet oddly compelling universe that lies beyond? Adam's 7th level of jazz harmony, (jumping into the deep end on Level 7 here) is that kind of spicy.
posted by tclark at 10:14 AM on January 10 [2 favorites]


If I could see these folks & Dirty Loops live on the same bill, I would immediately ascend to a higher plane of existence.
posted by LeDiva at 10:20 AM on January 10


Adam Neely also made Christmas Microtonal Lo-Fi Hip Hop EP, which may well be the greatest work of Christmas microtonal lo-fi hip hop ever recorded.
posted by saturday_morning at 11:45 AM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Dramatic re-enaction of me reading this post then clicking through to the video:

"Yes!"
"Yes!"
"Cool!" *click*
"Oh... no. No no no." *1:15 later* "Definitely not."

Theoretically this is made for me, but wow did I find this hard to listen to. Is this like, academic jazz? As in, are there people who genuinely just enjoy this on its face, or is it about the intellectual stimulation it provides?
posted by dbx at 12:18 PM on January 10 [5 favorites]


Um, jazzchords™️? Really?


How about we try this one in F#harmonicminor©
posted by gottabefunky at 12:44 PM on January 10


But he doesn't reharmononize the top vocal line! I otherwise love this but without that high sharp I'm sorely missing the hot sauce.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:50 PM on January 10


"Oh... no. No no no." *1:15 later* "Definitely not."

That's definitely the spiciest bit but once it gets to 1:40 they bring it back and they bring it back hard.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 1:09 PM on January 10


Listened to the sample from that microtonal Xmas thingy.

Now I know what a stroke sounds like.
posted by drivingmenuts at 1:38 PM on January 10


One thing I noticed about this video was that almost right off the bat, the reharmonizations did away with a key (ahem) part of the original song structure, where it stayed on the Bb for a measure and a half before the half-step up to the C at the end. That provided a specific character and identity to the song that got lost when he headed into the "bread and butter" jazz tinkering and started smooshing the form of the tune to fit into each of the "levels" he talked about. Toward the end he did off-handedly mention the "too much" factor, but I wish he'd made that more of a general point. A lot of the reharmonization stuff I've seen on YouTube strikes me as akin to cooking every meal by throwing in Every Spice And Herb In The Pantry...which isn't usually very satisfying taste-wise and leaves every dish tasting more or less the same (cf. Dirty Loops). Still, I think there's a lot of good information in there - as long as it's used with care, picking which bit of spice or flavor would work best to zhuzh up a particular tune without burying its original uniqueness.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:42 PM on January 10


Paging Jacob Collier, patron saint of All The Notes, to the thread.
posted by emelenjr at 2:52 PM on January 10


That was interesting to listen to and I really didn't like it! Which is starting from a point of (a) having a pretty limited grasp on jazz harmonization in general and (b) having that CRJ song absolutely etched on my brain at this point, which is probably not the best set of starting parameters for really appreciating it. But, yeah! That was so far from feeling like Run Away With Me that it's hard to know what to make of it.

Like, there's a couple of lenses into it that I can get behind even if it doesn't land for me: radically deconstructing the harmonization of a pop song for the sake of deconstructing pop, and radically reharmonizing a song to tell a specific harmonic story. Both are interesting projects, and I gather Neely likes to do the latter in general though I haven't really listened to much of his stuff before.

And he does a good job in the longer Hello video linked below the fold of talking through his thought process of reworking Adele in a way that I felt I could follow whether or not I personally liked the changes, but I feel like even at that that's a more accessible example (the whole thing feels less gonzo in the reworking) and a more workable choice of material to try and jazz up. CRJ does very pure, very good-at-what-it-is pop so the departure not just in part but in whole from any kind of solid pop harmonic ground on the song is hard for me to embrace in practice even if it's an interesting idea in principle.

Which is sort of a bummer because I do like the literal sonic energy of this version; I'd love to hear that instrumentation and feel thrown at an arrangement that tried more to split the difference and retain more of the grounded, pop-urgent feeling of the song while throwing all that gut and percussive precision and brassy feeeeeeeeeling behind it.
posted by cortex at 2:56 PM on January 10 [2 favorites]


(apologies, I forgot to mention that my comment was referring to the video linked in tclark's comment.)
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:46 PM on January 10


That was interesting to listen to and I really didn't like it! Which is starting from a point of (a) having a pretty limited grasp on jazz harmonization in general and (b) having that CRJ song absolutely etched on my brain at this point, which is probably not the best set of starting parameters for really appreciating it. But, yeah! That was so far from feeling like Run Away With Me that it's hard to know what to make of it.

Repetition builds legitimacy. It will feel less foreign over multiple listens. I've listened to Adam's reharmonization of thank u next so many times the original feels more foreign to me at this point.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 4:03 PM on January 10


ha, I listened to the reharmonization without having heard Jepsen's original. I kind of liked the reharmonization (I don't have much understanding of jazz, so it just sounded like orchestral metal to me, like when Metallica played with that symphonic orchestra). Went back and listened to the original (which didn't do much for me), then went back and listened to the reharmonization, and I still kind of like the reharmonization, though I think the reharmonization might sound better with a more aggressive, growlier singer.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:36 PM on January 10


>Is this like, academic jazz?

>That was interesting to listen to and I really didn't like it!


I would say that they are "musicianly" in the sense of, musicians who compose and play music all day long and have played the basic four-chord pop progression approximately eleventy-billion times and, you know, a person can get kind of sick of that as well as every other basic music trope that been overused for past, oh, say, twelve decades.

The perspective of someone who listens to music, maybe even a lot, and "just knows what I like" tends to be pretty different from someone who has spent hours a day playing, practicing, study, composing, etc etc etc for decades on end.

So, they like different things than maybe the average person does.

On the flip side--it's very, ery OK not to like it. Music preference is super-individual.

In fact, Cortex's response of "interesting to listen to and I really didn't like it" is the sort of thing I would absolutely love to hear from an "average listener" who doesn't know much about that particular style or genre, if I were working on something like this myself. You're really hoping to be able to reach across to new listeners at least that much, even if they don't completely get it.
posted by flug at 8:11 PM on January 10


My first reaction was "this sounds like someone who has gone through too many years of music school", and then I looked up Adam Neely and saw that he attended both Berklee College of Music and Manhattan School of Music, so apparently my music school instincts have not left me in the decade since I last stepped foot in a practice room.

There's a distinctive kind of sound that I associate with academic musicians, and this has it in spades - a smidge too on top of the beat, a smidge too technically perfect, theory-driven harmonizations that are never quite held long enough and never quite reach a satisfying resolution. It's the kind of sound that you develop when you spend your formative years performing for an audience of your fellow musicians, and said fellow musicians are mostly listening for technical perfection and not feeling or originality because music school is insanely competitive and technical perfection is how you pass jury exams and get into grad schools.

Still, it's an interesting exercise, even if the result is not to my particular taste. Thanks for posting!
posted by Basil Stag Hare at 1:46 AM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Adam Neely has a band called Sungazer that’s rly good.
posted by gucci mane at 2:12 AM on January 11


There's a distinctive kind of sound that I associate with academic musicians, and this has it in spades

Yup, Knower and Jacob Collier and Snarky Puppy and also this all seem to trade in a similar sort of academic technical ultra-jazz-fusion, but it definitely works for me, despite not knowing any of the theory. I suspect there must be just enough for my tiny lizard brain to cling onto musically while the rest of is baffled by the pyrotechnics.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:40 PM on January 12


I like Knower and I really didn't like this. This feels like everything including the kitchen sink being thrown into the song, making the original (which has a deliciously gratuitous sax solo, remember!) feel like a paragon of restraint. The autotune-like effect on the singer's voice in the first chorus is incredibly offputting to me and it pretty much ruins the song even though it doesn't seem to appear in the second chorus. The whole thing just sounds muddy and overwrought even without the autotune portion, and I just don't think it serves the song very well.

The Sungazer EP I started listening to works a lot better for me, honestly. There's space to breathe.
posted by chrominance at 8:05 AM on January 13


Since this got posted, Neely has put up another video explaining some of the thinking behind the arrangement and how it was achieved: T H I C C arranging.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:30 AM on January 14 [2 favorites]


I think these are didactic examples to illustrate concepts, not music that's intended to succeed as sounds that people will want to hear.
posted by thelonius at 6:00 AM on January 14


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