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This has nothing to do with Theatre

As the title suggests, this blog post has nothing to do with theatre. It does, however, have everything to do with music.

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And the band Daft Punk. Specifically their album entitled Random Access Memory.

To get to the point, I posit the theory that this album is directly influenced by the geniuses of classical music, specifically, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The songs on this Daft Punk album are very repetitive in nature. As a whole, they create a catchy, well-crafted musical hook and repeat it in different modulations for a while. Then, just before these repeated phrases get boring, they add in a new layer. They continue doing this ‘repeat and add layer’ technique until they finish their song and tie it up in a fitting ending. 

Listening to this song, I feel a seemingly odd desire to listen to classical music. In my exploration of this, I decided to break down Daft Punk’s song Doin’ it Right:

The song begins with affected electronic harmonies, adds a beat, then drops a new beat onto it, followed by a new one, etc.  All the while that same electronic harmonic hook is repeating.

Just past one minute into the song, a new vocal layer is added to the repeating beat and harmonic hook.

Half a minute later, the song shifts completely, introducing what will soon be a new layer to everything that has come before. A new section of vocal progression, delivered to me feeling like a statement. This new hook is only ten seconds long, but opens up a whole new level of layering to the song. Mixing in this new level sustains the remaining three and a half minutes of the song.

Let’s shift to Mozart. The musical style Mozart wrote in, Sonata Form, consists of a exposition, the development, the recapitulation, and the coda.[1]

Another contemporary of Mozart who writes in a form more easily connectable to Sonata Form is John Rutter. In his Requiem, his song Agnus Dei also feels reminiscent of Doin’ it Right, albeit in a dark way. I don’t feel it’s necessary to break down the song in the same way as I did above, but I do recommend listening to the song!

When comparing these songs, I invite you to look past the vast differences in instruments and other generational disparities (including Doin’ it Right’s lack of a coda). When viewed in this way, it can be seen that there are ways in which these songs mirror each other. It could of course be possible that Daft Punk did not specifically have classical music in mind when creating their most recent album. However, I choose to believe that there is a connection. I choose to believe that Daft Punk’s music is so good because they are talented musicians, and as such have a deep sensory comprehension of music that not only allows, but encourages this link.

 

[1]–Mozart, by Roye E. Wates, specifically the chart on page 88 of the Amadeus Press edition.

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About atweyenberg

Senior Theatre Arts major at Boston Univerity, currently enrolled in a Dramaturgy course! Excited about cross-sector work and community involvement.

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