Distinctive intros, cont’d
I have up til now stayed out of this festival of list-making that Daniel Mount is breeding like citrus canker over at his site, if only because these sorts of things are rather like fantasy sports teams … a self-perpetuating fetish incomprehensible to those of us who have yet to have the fantasy chip implanted in the base of our skulls. But I’ve decided to get involved here, if only because I’m a sucker for that moment Mount alludes when the crowd starts spontaneously applauding when they recognize a song. If I had to make a full blown list, which I’m not going to do, I’d probably put “Plan of Salvation” at the top. The way the piano walks down to the five chord in the first measure and gets a kick from the bass when they land on the V-7 is beautifully simple and simply inimitable. I can hear and recall every note just sitting here. Distinctive, indeed.
That said, I think Mount overstates the importance of the instrumental introduction to the phenomenon of those reactive bursts of applause. Think of a song like “God of the Mountain.” I couldn’t hum one bar of the intro to that song if my internet connection depended on it, but everyone always applauds as soon as Peg drawls out those first words: “lahfe is eeeezzzee … whenuh yer up own thuh mouwntttin.” And even this line, while lyrically memorable and melodically savvy in its sparseness is not musically mindblowing. And yet we applaud. Why? Because the intro is “distinctive”? I don’t think so.
My rather unremarkable point: the “distinctive” intro has to do with evoking a certain feeling and set of associations in fans after a song has initially captured the world’s imagination. We’re applauding spontaneously I think (and I do mean only those times when the applause is genuinely spontaneous, and not those times when overzealous fans try to trump up phony applause for a song when it’s introduced in hopes of sparking an applause wild-fire in the crowd out of a sense of obligation), … I say, we’re applauding spontaneously for the individual and collective significance a song comes to represent and remind of us of, and less (if at all) because the music itself in the intro is just so gobsmackingly good that we can’t help but burst into applause.Email this Post