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The Most Unwanted Song
The Most Unwanted Song
The Most Unwanted Song

The Most Unwanted Song - 12tone

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Just some friends making videos about music theory. What? Is that weird? Patreon: Mailing list: Facebook: Twitter: Email:

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There's lots of ways to work out what makes a song popular, and music theorists use many different techniques to analyze and understand compositions, but how about just asking people what they like? Well, that's exactly what a couple artists in the 90s decided to do, conducting a rigorous, scientific poll in order to identify what people actually wanted in their music and produce what would be, in theory, the most popular possible song. And, in the interest of science (and fun), they also turned their results upside-down, making what should be the most unwanted song ever recorded. So how'd they do?

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Also, thanks to Jareth Arnold and Jade Tan-Holmes for proofreading the script to make sure this all makes sense hopefully!
Can Music Be Bad?

Can a song be bad? I mean, obviously, right? I'm sure you've listened to plenty of songs that you haven't liked. But... is that the same thing? Maybe someone else loves that song. So how do we define badness in music? Can we quantify musical quality in any meaningful way to determine whether or not a song is good, and if so, how? Just relying on personal taste probably isn't enough, but do other measures exist to help us out? Patreon: Merchandise Store: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email: Last: Stand By Me: Philosophy Of The World: Bohemian Rhapsody: Script: SOURCES: Huge...

Understanding Total Eclipse Of The Heart

Some songs are obviously interesting and deserving of study, but others... others surprise you. I'll be honest, when I got the request to look at Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart I wasn't expecting much, but I'm happy to admit that I was very wrong. Jim Steinman, the composer, baked in a lot of really cool ideas, turning what could've been a pretty straightforward pop ballad into a deep, intricate exercise in harmonic ingenuity. The tools he uses are all pretty simple, but the way he uses them is anything but. Patreon: Merchandise Store: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email:...

Sweet Child O' Mine And The Hunt For A Resolution

So what makes Sweet Child O' Mine tick? How did Guns N' Roses create a song that was simultaneously sweet, romantic, and heavy as heck? Well, they did it by accident, but setting that aside, there's a lot of interesting compositional techniques that went into this hard rock masterpiece. For instance, did you know that there are literally zero actual resolutions in it? None whatsoever. They replace them all with a couple different pseudo-resolve-y things, which keeps the song moving forward and never lets the listener actually rest. Plus we break down one of the most famous riffs in all...

The Strangest Normal Scale

Harmonic Major is really simple, except that it's not. It's just like the major scale except with a flat 6th degree, which seems straightforward enough, but the effect of lowering that one note changes pretty much everything, from creating all sorts of weird chords to adding bizarre intervals to its melodic structures. It's kind of in between major and minor, but there's plenty of other scales that are too, and most of them are a lot easier to use. So what's the point? Well... Patreon: Merchandise Store: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email: Last: Harmonic Minor video: Modes video: Augmented Triads...

How To Play Radiohead Songs | Why I Love Radiohead

BECOME A PATRON → In this video I talk about and demonstrate why Radiohead is one of the greatest bands of all times. I teach how to play excerpts from "Airbag", "Just", "Let Down", "Everything In Its Right Place" and "Daydreaming". If you're interested in the Beato Book click here: My Links to Follow: YouTube - Artist Facebook - Personal Facebook - Instagram - Follow On Twitter - @rickbeato

The Harpsichord's Historical Pickle

The harpsichord has certainly suffered from the slings and arrows of historical fortunes. In this video I look at how the rise of the piano and later the early music movement left us with a historical pickle which needs some clever players and manufacturers to find a solution for. It remains an amazing instrument which I've enjoyed writing for several times in recent year. Support the Channel on Patreon: Follow me on Twitter: Follow me on Instagram: Thanks so much to Tamar Halperin for contributing both her thoughts and excerpts of two harpsichord pieces for this video. Research Chris Cutler's excellent podcast treads much of...

The World's Most Popular Rhythm

Start your 30-day Audible free trial with a free audiobook: or text "12tone" to 500500 It's easy to forget how important rhythms can be, but they're the foundation on top of which music is built, and it doesn't get much more foundational than the Clave. Born in Africa, brought to the Americas by slaves, and eventually showing up in musical styles all over the world, the Clave is one of the defining rhythms of modern music across cultures. It's complex but approachable, jagged but smooth, and odds are pretty good that even if you didn't notice, you've heard it somewhere...

Three Tips For Writing A Great Melody

Melodies are hard. Chords come with all sorts of easy rules about how you're supposed to string them together, but when it comes to writing a nice line to go on top of it, oftentimes it seems like you're just supposed to pick random notes and hope they sound good. And honestly, once you get into the habit you are kinda doing that, but if you feel like your melodies are falling a bit short, there's a few things you should try paying attention to, like melodic shape, note functions, and phrasing! Patreon: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Email: Last: Intervals video:...

The Broken Scales Of Wendy Carlos

It's Wendy Carlos's birthday this week, so we're paying tribute to one of the most important figures in the history of electronic music. Her work is complex and varied, and her influence runs deep in modern music, but I'm a sucker for a good tuning system, and Wendy Carlos may have invented one of the coolest ones ever. She dared to ask a question most theorists hadn't even considered: Is the octave actually that big a deal? What can we do if we just... get rid of it? It turns out removing the octave gives you absurdly pure, beautiful sounds...


Thanks to Milo Ahenakew for playing guitar for us! Milo's also our audio engineer, it was fun getting him in on the video side of the project. Practice Exercises: Arpeggios Video: Basic Guitar Playing: Beginner Guitar Chords: Whole Lotta Love (Easy Guitar Riff): All of Me (Easy Song W/Chords): Facebook: Twitter: Email: Next: Last:

The Most Terrifying Sound You've Never Heard

There's lots of ways to make music sound scary, but the most terrifying technique of all may be one you can't actually hear. Infrasound is sound waves that are too low for the human ear to perceive, instead creating a deep, rumbling sensation that unnerves you without seeming to come from anywhere, and it's becoming more and more common in horror movie scores. Low-level infrasound is all around us, all the time, but at high volumes we don't know a lot about its effects on the human body. The possibilities are fascinating, though, and they add a real-life scary edge...

The Scales That Built Jazz

Try 2 months of Skillshare for free! Modern jazz is one of the most popular styles among academic musicians, with whole fields of research dedicated to studying its use of advanced harmony, chromaticism, and other complex techniques, but back in the day it was thought of as just dance music. So what changed? Well, Bebop happened. Bebop transformed the face of jazz forever, and it brought with it lots of new ideas and devices, including perhaps jazz's first real experiment in chromaticism, the Bebop Scales! Patreon: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email: Last: Modes video: Script: SOURCES: Huge thanks to our Elephant...

How To Modulate Anywhere

Changing keys is a great way to add more sophistication to a piece of music, but it can be a tricky process. Sure, there's some easy targets, but what if you want to get weird with it? What if you want to go somewhere completely different, somewhere with absolutely nothing in common with your starting key? Most of our normal modulation tools fall apart when the scales get too far away from each other, but theorists don't give up quite so easily. Patreon: Merchandise Store: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email: Last: 32-Bar Form video: Modulation video: Modal Interchange video: Secondary...

Understanding Hotel California

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas rising up through the air... So begins one of the most famously disorienting journeys in rock history, but how exactly does Hotel California manage to make you feel so lost? It's got a lot of tricks up its sleeve, from unresolved dominants to falling motifs to a guitar solo that never actually ends. But don't worry: You can check out any time you like. Patreon: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email: Last: Hotel California (live version): Functional Harmony video: Secondary Dominants video: Relative Modulation video: Comfortably Numb...

Who Counts As A Musician?

Who counts as a musician? It's an easy question to answer, but a surprisingly difficult question to answer well. At its heart is a complex examination of cultural values, and that sort of vague, subjective answer may be fine for most of us, but it presents a significant problem for music psychologists who just want a nice, clean definition so they can do science to it. The Seashore Test was the first attempt to measure musicianship in a way that data scientists could use, and many more have sprung up in the century since its invention. Check out Dave's twitter: Patreon:...

The Most Unwanted Song (FULL VERSION)

"The Most Unwanted Song" is a song created by artists Komar and Melamid and composer Dave Soldier in 1997. The song was designed to incorporate lyrical and musical elements that were annoying to most people, as determined by a public opinion survey. These elements included bagpipes, cowboy music, an opera singer rapping, and a children's choir that urged listeners to go shopping at Wal-Mart. For The People's Choice: Music CD, "The Most Unwanted Song" was paired with "The Most Wanted Song," which incorporated musical elements that were "wanted" by listeners, again as determined by a public opinion survey. Instruments such as...

Conlon Nancarrow's Impossible Piano

Conlon Nancarrow's work is unlike anything that came before it. He was a hacker before computers existed, using and abusing self-playing pianos in order to create music that would have been literally impossible for human beings to perform. He was fascinated with rhythms, writing pieces with lots of different tempos at once and even working irrational numbers like pi into his compositions. His explorations of what rhythms could be when freed from the limitations of a human performer are revolutionary to this day, and he managed to accomplish in the mid-20th century things that you'd think could only be done...

The Secret to Sounding Sad in Major - Mediant Chord [MUSIC THEORY - SONGWRITING LESSON]

If you enjoy these lessons you can sponsor them on Patreon! When writing in major keys, one quick method to introducing sorrow in to your music is by using the diatonic iii chord, also called the mediant chord. This video will demonstrate several examples of songs and pieces that are written using the mediant chord, as well as advice on how to write progressions that are sad and woeful. Thanks so much to Linas Orentas for his generous support on my Patreon page! Free online guitar lessons for beginners, intermediate, and advanced players. Located in Crystal Lake, Jake Lizzio provides free jam...

On Negative Time Signatures (A Response To Adam Neely)

What's a negative time signature? Well, it's not really a thing... yet. But Adam Neely made a video about the possibility and what it could mean to write music in -4/4 time, which got me thinking about other possible answers, and I think I've come up with something I really like so I thought I'd share. Plus, a little youtube drama never hurt anyone, so why not start a fight with Adam? Seriously, though, his answer was good too. But still. Fight! Patreon: Merchandise Store: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Instagram: Email: Last: Adam's video: Revolution no. 9: Rain: Script: SOURCES: Huge thanks to...

Working With Riffs

Riffs. They're so ubiquitous that even the most casual music fan has their favorites, but when something is everywhere, a good theorist always stops to ask why. What makes the riff work? Why is it such an effective tool? The answer goes back a long way, all the way to the classical Ostinato, if not further. Plus we look at pedals and loops! (But not loop pedals. That's something different...) Patreon: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Email: Next: Last: Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson: Enter Sandman, by Metallica: Superstition, by Stevie Wonder: Feel Good Inc., by the Gorillaz: Smoke On The...

Pop music’s problem with silence

What are the uses of silence in music and why is popular music so afraid of them? In this video I look at the various ways composers use silence, and why so many of them are considered out of bounds to today's chart toppers. Support me on Patreon: Follow me on Twitter: Follow me on Instagram Sources:

Making Music With Dice

So much of music theory revolves around rigid structures and carefully measured choices, but sometimes, you have to just leave it all up to luck. Randomly composed music, also called Chance Composition, Aleatoric Music, or Indeterminate Music, is the practice of letting dice (or other random elements) make your musical decisions for you. There's lots of ways to do it, from randomly-composed melodies to leaving important decisions up to players at the time of the show, making each performance a brand new song! Patreon: Mailing List: Facebook: Twitter: Email: Next: Last: Bird On The Wires, by Jarbas Agnelli: Mozart's Alleged Dice...