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Concept or themed albums... if you were to write for one....


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I was impressed with news that some musicians from a community I've been involved with for 10+ years are well advanced in the task to write a concept album - they have a kick starter project page with some examples of the work they have done already. It's been a long time since I even thought about "concept albums" and wondered if anyone had even had any thoughts about undertaking a similar project. Off the top of my head I can't think of anything I'd be that interested or committed to - I am a book lover and regular reader but couldn't narrow a list to even 50 great books - there are so many that are incomparable - the only thing that would come close is actually the basis of a book I am writing about my daughters illness (which I don't want to go into) - it's really about what "support" actually means... anyway. In terms of a themed album I can think of a few things - my big passion in life is swimming (I was running for 20+ years but after 3 knee surgeries I was forced into switching to swimming which I didn't like at first but now love - I was swimming up to 9hrs a week until an injury last March) - I have a growing collection of poems I've written about that. I'd be interested to know what you could manage the enthusiasm and creativity for to write a good two handfuls of songs about?

 

 

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I've had a project simmering away for ages. Some tunes have been recorded. Others written or close to completion.

 

All but two instrumentals are linked to the others in some way. The direct theme for song #1 is chronic insomnia. It paired with the 2nd song under the blanket title 'Insomniacs Nocturne'.

 

Song #1 is basic and simply recorded. One voice and one guitar. Then I sleep. Song #2 is how the song is transformed in my dream imagination. There is full multi-tracked backing, the lyrics more developed and the vocal in a raised key with more power in delivery. Both songs share the same melody.

 

Originally I planned to use sound fx, such as the the sound of people outside the door. Then sleep breathing would link into song #2. This adds nothing to the music however so I abandoned that presentation idea. Nevertheless all the songs are linked with twinned  themes of sleep and belief.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'd love to turn my novel into a concept album, it's very musical anyway.  It's about a telepathic bass player who inadvertently "spreads" his telepathy to his bandmates while experiencing an intense life threatening situation.  They end up developing their jamming skills (being able to read each others' minds) to such a degree that their music starts manifesting in supernatural ways.  To begin with anyway HEHE 🤣

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7 hours ago, Capo3tanya said:

I'd love to turn my novel into a concept album, it's very musical anyway.  It's about a telepathic bass player who inadvertently "spreads" his telepathy to his bandmates while experiencing an intense life threatening situation.  They end up developing their jamming skills (being able to read each others' minds) to such a degree that their music starts manifesting in supernatural ways.  To begin with anyway HEHE 🤣

 

Phil Lesh's bass bombs do that. Here's one producing a telekinetic effect...   [smiley=SHOCKED2.gif]

 

 

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Whaaa? Hehe!

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10 hours ago, Capo3tanya said:

I'd love to turn my novel into a concept album, it's very musical anyway.  It's about a telepathic bass player who inadvertently "spreads" his telepathy to his bandmates while experiencing an intense life threatening situation.  They end up developing their jamming skills (being able to read each others' minds) to such a degree that their music starts manifesting in supernatural ways.  To begin with anyway HEHE 🤣

Sounds like a Jim Carrey type film to me.

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Jim Carrey, like a comedy? Hehe no it's not a comedy. Hmmm.... It's more like Fight Club hehe. 

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On 10/18/2018 at 1:37 PM, Capo3tanya said:

Jim Carrey, like a comedy? Hehe no it's not a comedy. Hmmm.... It's more like Fight Club hehe. 

 

Its put me in mind of Legion (TV series) which I have just begun to watch. The musical aspect sounds delicious though :punk:

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Right!? It is delicious! :guitarplay1:Gets outta control!

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I never heard of Legion just looked it up. Sounds very interesting and yeah in the same vein! I'm definitely not God's gift to writing and I don't know if I will ever finish my book, but I can say with certaintly that it's pretty damned cool lol. It's called Resonate. 

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  • 1 month later...

I would do theme one based on music of the world going to different parts of the world and recording what the locals play country roots type stuff Regional. What is the native song and styles of the Eskimo or natives in the amazon or Remote parts of Mongolia  Places like that and also western style Roots 

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I have one with a few songs already out on an EP. It's based on the toll the internet and technology is taking on us humans. If I had the time and money, I would also spin that into a movie with the tunes of course being the soundtrack.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Noob

A while back I started working on a concept album about a boy who was abducted, then he was freed by a girlfriend of one of the kidnappers. A chase then happens, she is killed and then he comes back to kill the boss of the abductors in a Mexican standoff. Yeah, at the time I had just finished watching the dollars trilogy and once upon a time in the west.

 

Anyway, eventually I got tired of the project because I found myself reducing the quality of the music in favor of the story, and the story wasn't really that good anyway. I took what I considered the best songs and just started to work on another album.

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     It's hard to think about doing a theme album without then hemming yourself in creativity wise. I think two albums come to mind that had a running theme would be Tarkus by Emerson Lake and Palmer and even at that they ran out of material to complete the theme of the album.

  KLAATU's "Hope" album would be another such album which dealt with a space theme, but they ended up with alot of instrumental music to fill out the album.

      The Who's Tommy does come to mind, but that counts more as a movie soundtrack, doesn't it?

  I mean actually, you could argue that most of Pink Floyd's music deals with themes of the human condition. At any rate, to me, theme conjures up the idea of musicals.

   The closest I ever got to an extended song or I'll use the term mini opera was my song "High Water Mark". It started out as just a song about a teenager's infatuation meeting a shy girl at a dance. Yeah, really hard hitting stuff.lol

   Anyways, I had this song called "Dance" and it was one of my classic "short songs" and for years it just ended on this one drawn out note. I thought hmmmm....I could dove tail something over that. So I did and extended the story to have him see her leave the dance. I could have stopped there. But now I had this idea of his infatuation to work with and it ended up filling out three attached mini songs. After the 5th part, there was nowhere else to go with it. So I ended it. Link at bottom of page.

 

High Water Mark

(J.Upham)(c) 2012

 

Part 1

V1

So you chose to sit them all out

Hey, the band is gonna play anyhow

If you feel like you're missing out

Tell me, tell me I'll be standing right here

chorus:

Cuz you're never gonna live today

If you're gonna be dead to the world

It doesn't have to be this way

It's so sad, such a beautiful girl

V2

The songs half over, can I ask you to dance?

Hey it's the last time Im gonna roll the dice

Feel the music, love all around us

Tell me, tell me what there is to fear?

repeat chorus

 

part 2

Curtain draws, she leaves alone

Ducks in a cab that takes her farther away from me (Tail lights disappear)

Into the midnight air (standing helplessly)

Hanging on every word (will she remember me?)

refrain

What could I do? (what could I do)

 

part 3

Could this be the last time

That I ever see her face?

Or could this be the first time?

If she ever returns to this place

What I'd do for her loves embrace

 

part 4

Love and it's mystery

Fates uncertainty for those who dare

She was the perfect storm

A high water mark I learned

On how to drown

How to drown

 

part 5

Oh I, I have love

Oh I, I have love

Oh I, I have love

For no one but her

 

Oh I , I need love

Oh I, I need love

Oh I, I need love

From nobody but her

 

Oh I, I've got love

Oh I, I've got love

Oh I, I've got love

For no one but her

 

Oh I, I need love

Oh I, I need love

Oh I, I need love

From nobody else but her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 High Water Mark.wma

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Offhand, I would suggest that:  even though a good "concept album" often feels intensely personal, it is really always "just about the concept."

 

To that end – really – "it is really a piece of musical theater."

 

Whether or not the theater-piece has a particular protagonist or antagonist ("Tommy" ... "Alice Cooper®") ... it nonetheless has a single sustaining concept that is "theatric."  And, as such, it must sustain the audience's attention at least through an entire "act."

 

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  • Noob
On 12/28/2018 at 10:26 PM, Driftwood said:

     It's hard to think about doing a theme album without then hemming yourself in creativity wise. I think two albums come to mind that had a running theme would be Tarkus by Emerson Lake and Palmer and even at that they ran out of material to complete the theme of the album.

  KLAATU's "Hope" album would be another such album which dealt with a space theme, but they ended up with alot of instrumental music to fill out the album.

      The Who's Tommy does come to mind, but that counts more as a movie soundtrack, doesn't it?

  I mean actually, you could argue that most of Pink Floyd's music deals with themes of the human condition. At any rate, to me, theme conjures up the idea of musicals.

   The closest I ever got to an extended song or I'll use the term mini opera was my song "High Water Mark". It started out as just a song about a teenager's infatuation meeting a shy girl at a dance. Yeah, really hard hitting stuff.lol

   Anyways, I had this song called "Dance" and it was one of my classic "short songs" and for years it just ended on this one drawn out note. I thought hmmmm....I could dove tail something over that. So I did and extended the story to have him see her leave the dance. I could have stopped there. But now I had this idea of his infatuation to work with and it ended up filling out three attached mini songs. After the 5th part, there was nowhere else to go with it. So I ended it. Link at bottom of page.

 

High Water Mark

(J.Upham)(c) 2012

 

Part 1

V1

So you chose to sit them all out

Hey, the band is gonna play anyhow

If you feel like you're missing out

Tell me, tell me I'll be standing right here

chorus:

Cuz you're never gonna live today

If you're gonna be dead to the world

It doesn't have to be this way

It's so sad, such a beautiful girl

V2

The songs half over, can I ask you to dance?

Hey it's the last time Im gonna roll the dice

Feel the music, love all around us

Tell me, tell me what there is to fear?

repeat chorus

 

part 2

Curtain draws, she leaves alone

Ducks in a cab that takes her farther away from me (Tail lights disappear)

Into the midnight air (standing helplessly)

Hanging on every word (will she remember me?)

refrain

What could I do? (what could I do)

 

part 3

Could this be the last time

That I ever see her face?

Or could this be the first time?

If she ever returns to this place

What I'd do for her loves embrace

 

part 4

Love and it's mystery

Fates uncertainty for those who dare

She was the perfect storm

A high water mark I learned

On how to drown

How to drown

 

part 5

Oh I, I have love

Oh I, I have love

Oh I, I have love

For no one but her

 

Oh I , I need love

Oh I, I need love

Oh I, I need love

From nobody but her

 

Oh I, I've got love

Oh I, I've got love

Oh I, I've got love

For no one but her

 

Oh I, I need love

Oh I, I need love

Oh I, I need love

From nobody else but her

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 High Water Mark.wma

Your song is very good. I like it, from the lyrics to the melody to each individual instrument. I would only try to desibilize it a bit. Thank you for sharing this.

 

From my unfinished concept album I was also able to "save" some of the story into a multipart song (hell, I'll share it also:

 

I would say that long "concept" songs might be a good middle ground between a concept album and a "normal" album, since I find that, like in my case, if you are not careful you tend to sacrifice musical quality. Of course when you can pull it off then it is awesome.

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That piece had a slight early dry Elliot Smith feel to it Devil. The non drums aspect that Smith's early stuff is kinda similar on what you're trying to pull off. Is it intentional? Interesting vibe. Maybe alittle long in some of the instrumental passages. But over all entertaining.

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  • Noob
1 hour ago, Driftwood said:

That piece had a slight early dry Elliot Smith feel to it Devil. The non drums aspect that Smith's early stuff is kinda similar on what you're trying to pull off. Is it intentional? Interesting vibe. Maybe alittle long in some of the instrumental passages. But over all entertaining.

It wasn't intentional since I haven't heard a lot of Elliot Smith, however I can understand what you're saying. I like Phil Elverum's work in the Microphones, he tends to be intentionally out of tune with light guitar, melodic but at the same time anti-melodic. I some times try to emulate that, but I always end up being a bit more melodic. Elliot Smith reminds me a bit of Phil, but less low-fi, hence it is natural I sound like him. That is my explanation at least. I take it as a compliment.

The lack of drums itself had more to do with the fact that when I recorded the song I didn't have access to (or money for) drums/drummers, and I also think that the song doesn't absolutely need them. For other songs of the time I tried doing the drums with music programs, but the learning curve was too steep I so eventually gave up.

 

Can you tell me which of the instrumental passages you find too long?

 

Thank you for taking the time to hear my song.

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Hey Devil, I found the bit between the 5 minute mark to about the 7:25 mark abit wandering to nowhere only because you had already done an instrumental passage of length before hand. But yeah, this piece has mood and creativity that you often dont hear.

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Great thread!  I love the idea of concept albums, but man there's few worth the label out there.

 

I love Tarkus by Emerson Lake and Palmer and didn't even know it WAS a concept album.  Mostly because I don't know what they're talking about.  But side 1 certainly had a cohesive feel running through it, both musically and lyrically.  Side 2 then had some stuff that really sounded out of place.

 

I think Pink Floyd were really the masters of this, with The Wall being the best example.  You could have an actual story that runs throughout, like say Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds.  But that's more musical theatre as mentioned.  The Wall does something else.  They take the simple concept of a wall and then expand it in every direction possible.  Mostly as a metaphor for barriers people put up between each other, around themselves and so on.  I'd like to think of a simple cohesive idea like this which could go in so many directions while still following the theme.

 

Rather than being restrictive, I think a good theme could help to motivate ideas radiating out from it.

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