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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Solid"
Single by Ashford & Simpson
from the album Solid
B-side"Solid (Dub version)"
ReleasedNovember 9, 1984
Format
Recorded1984
GenreSoul, R&B
Length5:12 (album version)
3:46 (single version)
3:21 (radio edit)
LabelCapitol
Songwriter(s)Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson
Producer(s)Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson
Ashford & Simpson singles chronology
"I'm Not That Tough"
(1984)
"Solid"
(1984)
"Babies"
(1985)
"I'm Not That Tough"
(1984)
"Solid"
(1984)
"Babies"
(1985)

"Solid" is a song recorded by husband-and-wife songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson. It was featured on their album Solid (1984), and released as a single in November of that year.

It was written by the two and follows a similar template of most of their hits for other artists, except with a slight 1980s inflection to the music. In the lyrics, the narrators of the song celebrate the fact that, through all the difficulties and problems their relationship has faced, they made their love stronger by learning how to forgive and trust each other, and their love for one another remains "solid as a rock".

In 2009, Ashford & Simpson remade the song in honor of President Barack Obama, calling it "Solid (As Barack)".[1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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Transcription

Today we’re going to talk about a topic that in some ways is a follow up to the Melody Writing tutorial we recently did. In other ways… it’s not. We’re going to attempt to define a set of guidelines for how you can incorporate hooks into your songs and melodies. I can hear some of you already saying, “hooks and melodies? Those are the same thing, right?” Well not really… but yeah sometimes.. You see, a hook is nothing more than a metaphorical term for the special thing that makes catchy music well… catchy… If we consider the listener on the other end of our creative output we have a delicate balance to strike. The recipe for catchy music is equal parts predictability and unpredictability. And if that seems at odds to you - it is. And really that’s the beautiful thing that makes music kinda special. We’re connecting with listeners by both sharing a reliable experience, while surprising them at the same time. If we were to extend our hook metaphor… the predictable elements might be the bait that lures our listeners into the song through familiarity but it’s the hook that catches them. Of course, a strong melody is still a great thing to have. But today let’s look at some hook techniques to either modify your melodies or accompany them.. Technique #1: Give ‘em something to shout about I once saw an interview with a songwriter who summed up her definition of a hook pretty simply. She said, “A hook is the thing the audience shouts when you play live.” To illustrate this let’s revisit an instrumental that we’ve already seen in our mixing tutorial on High Pass and Low Pass filters. Remember this song? Today we’ve added a top line melody to go over that instrumental. Here’s how it sounds. And we’ve written some lyrics to replace that piano melody. The melody is nice but if we imagined playing this song in front of a crowd it doesn’t work with our songwriter’s rule… there’s nothing really for the audience to shout. And it’s for this reason that you’ll often hear seemingly arbitrary shoutable hooks in songs. These appear in songs for one great reason: they work. They engage the listener. Check out this clip from the band NOFX playing a show in Monterrey, Mexico. That shouting shows the audience is hooked. With that in mind, let’s try adding a simple shout to our song. Artists like The Lumineers employ this trick very successfully. I’ve downloaded two samples of people shouting Hey from freesound.org. This one… and this one… I’ll pan them for some stereo separation… and then I’ll duplicate the tracks and transpose the samples a bit so our chorus of Heys sounds bigger and like a mix of genders and ages… you know, kinda like a crowd at a live show. Check out our song now. I defy you to listen to this and not want to shout along with the Hey, even if it’s just in your head while you’re listening. That’s what hooks do. The melody gives us a familiar, the hook provides that element of surprise. But okay that’s a simple gimmick, even if it is effective… Let’s check out a more involved way to add hooks that integrate those surprise elements within the melody. Here’s simple enough song I’ve got going… I’ve used a Scales & Chords Player to create Sine Pluck chords… I’ve got some drums… and a bass line using Fancy Bass in the Reason 9 sounds… Overtop of that I’ve worked out the start of a melody line… and that leads me to hook technique #2: Repeat melody phrases. To understand this one, let’s look at a simplified piano example for a second. I’ve got this very simple chord progression… and this very simple melody. To make this melody a little more catchy we can actually make it more repetitive by getting rid of the second half and repeating the notes that occur over the first two chords over the second two chords. Now consider what this accomplishes… for one thing it’s familiar because we’ve just heard it but it also surprises us because the same notes over different chords have a different harmonic tonality… that is to say they feel different. But you might notice a little too much repetition bothers our ear. If we change our last note, however, we end up with a simple pleasant variation… And from there we have something of a hook to move forward with lyrics for example. But anyway, let’s shift back to our electronic idea and apply the same principles. I’ve got this melody over the first half… let’s repeat over the second half.. And just like our simple piano example, this repetition is harmonically interesting but we might want to alter our last note. Alright… that gives us a melody which has a repetition hook in it. Now let’s punch it up with Technique #3: Punctuation is catchy. Remember that clip of NOFX playing live? Whether they knew it or not, they combined our Tehnique #1: shout it out, with Technique #3: punctuation. And there’s no doubt the audience has responded to their hook. But punctuation hooks that get stuck in your head aren’t limited to shouts. But you already know that if you’ve ever offered someone to stand under your umbrella-ella-ella. Let’s apply punctuation to our melody. This long held sustained note is prime territory for punctuating. Our synth is a monophonic so we don’t even need to shorten the underlying note. I’ll just draw in some short staccato notes high above my melody. Let’s start an octave above. Okay… how about something a little lower. That’s it. Now this is where personal taste comes into things but for my sense I’d like to modify the end of that phrase to help bridge the high punctuation with the lower resolution. So I’ll move this note below the melody… allowing us to undershoot, then overshoot, and finally settle into the end of our phrase. Okay! Now that’s kinda hooky… compare that to the more boring second half which has no punctuation. So let’s punctuate the second half too. Now, there’s no science to this but since we went above the melody on the first half we’ll go below the melody on the second half. And since our first punctuations were one the beat let’s make our second ones off the beat. I’m liking where this is going but here I’m going to go rogue and delete the rest of the repetition motif. It’s just not jiving with my new off-beat punctuations. Instead I’m going to take a moment and explore some different notes to finish our our staccato phrase. This is partially trial and error. But one thing that makes this process much easier is if we put a Scales & Chords Player above our instrument, set it to the same scale as our backing chords, and turn off the chords switch. Now all the experimentation we do is with notes that fit our key. After playing around a bit… we’ve got this. And yes, that’s quite different than the literal repetition we started with but if we play our whole phrase you can sense the repetition motif surviving along with our new punctuation hook techniques. Since we’re already headed in this direction, I think it’s time we explore Technique #4: Get weird. This is an open ended rule… but weird… is good. Do you think Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off began with with just drums and baritone saxophone in mind? Do you think Imogen Heap wrote Hide and Seek, knowing exactly what a harmonizer would do to her voice? No, she didn’t. The fact is that playing around isn’t just interesting for the creator. The result is interesting for the listener. So let’s play around. Since our hook is played on a synthesizer, the obvious place to get weird is some knob or setting on our synth. And to make today’s example obvious and understandable, let’s go with the pitch wheel. I’ll open up this instrument combinator and modify the synthesizer inside so that our pitch bend range goes from a modest two semi-tones to a more extreme twelve semitones. Now we have a full two octave range from top to bottom on our pitch wheel to bend our notes. We’ll create an automation note lane for our pitch wheel by right clicking and choosing Edit Automation. And let’s draw a pitch wheel dive at the end of our first phrase… like this… we could, of course, decide to go slower… or faster. Hearing it faster like that makes me want to add some more… so let’s make two more automation clips, one that goes up on the second to last note of the phrase… and one that goes down on the last note. You see what I mean? It’s weird… but oddly catchy. Let’s add similar pitch dives to the end of our second phrase to help us serve both masters - the unpredictable but also the predictable. So as you can see, the the concept of hooks is an ongoing pursuit of experimentation plus trial and error. Hopefully today you’ve got some ideas you can try in your own music making. As with all things in music, sometimes we learn techniques and rules just so we know how to break them. And by all means… break all the rules. It is, after all, the only way music moves forward. So good luck going forward and I’ll see you soon.

Contents

Music video

The video is set on a rainy afternoon in a park. Valerie Simpson exits a taxi in a park on a cloudy day, and escapes from a sudden downpour underneath a bridge. As she sings the opening of the song a cappella, Nick Ashford arrives and joins in. As the video progresses, they are joined by others, including a cyclist in yellow spandex, a gang who just want to sing, and several bongo players, also trying to escape the downpour.[2]

Personnel

Filming location

The video is shot in New York City in Central Park at the Willowdell Arch (40°46′12″N 73°58′16.4″W / 40.77000°N 73.971222°W / 40.77000; -73.971222).

Charts

Chart (1984/85) Peak
position
Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 21
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[4] 4
Canada Top Singles (RPM) [5] 5
Germany (Official German Charts)[6] 2
Ireland (IRMA) 3
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[7] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[8] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[9] 13
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[10] 3
UK Singles Chart[11] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 12

In other media

  • The song was featured during the closing credits of the 208th episode of Santa Barbara from 20 May 1985.[13][14]
  • The song also featured in an episode of the sitcom Arrested Development, where it is ironically played at the opening ceremony of a new house, which is almost instantaneously knocked down.

References

  1. ^ Vozick-Levinson, Simon (January 16, 2009). "'Solid (As Barack)': Ashford & Simpson finally catch up on their DVR-ed 'SNL' episodes". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  2. ^ music video in Dailymotion.com
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Ashford & Simpson – Solid" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  5. ^ "RPM Weekly Top Singles - March 9, 1985 (Volume 41, No. 26)". Library and Archives Canada. RPM Weekly (archived). March 9, 1985. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Ashford & Simpson – Solid" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  8. ^ "Charts.nz – Ashford & Simpson – Solid". Top 40 Singles.
  9. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Ashford & Simpson – Solid". Singles Top 100.
  10. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Ashford & Simpson – Solid". Swiss Singles Chart.
  11. ^ "Ashford & Simpson – Solid – Official Singles Charts". UK Singles Chart. November 17, 1984. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  12. ^ "Ashford & Simpson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  13. ^ http://santabarbara-online.com/Episode200-209.htm
  14. ^ http://santabarbara-online.com/Calendar1985.htm

External links



This page was last edited on 12 November 2018, at 19:03
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