Car Radio – twenty one pilots

  1. What do you find (musically) interesting?
  2. What do you think this piece is about?
  3. How does the composer develop the material

1. This song is a great example of how a very small amount of material can be used to huge effect. Coming in at just under five minutes in length, the same chord progression is used throughout with no deviation; this obsessiveness underpins the song’s intent while not distracting from the vocalist. Also interesting is the use of texture to build to a climax and create tension, where in a more traditionally composed work, this role may have been filled by the harmony. I think this is a seriously intense track, simple in its building blocks, yet complex in its construction.

2. It feels like cheating, answering this question for a song with actual lyrics – the meaning is front and centre, laid out for the listener, especially with such emotive words. The singer clearly misses his radio! But beyond that, the music has such a clear sense of build, climax and release that there is a definite therapeutic side to this song, with the singer screaming his lungs out (“and now I just sit in silence!”) before coming to a complete stillness. Sort of like punching a pillow to let your frustration out! That’s what this song is about for me – release!

3. I sort of looked at that in my answer to the first question – texture is the main tool for musical development. Layers of synths piling up, changes in the drum pattern and the use of dramatic silence all add to create a hugely varied soundworld. Its important when working with words to always consider how the music relates to it, and I think this song nails it!

Sam James


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