Bring Me Your Love (feat. THEA) by Giraffage — Tennyson Remix
Hello, hello, hello, my name is Albert Nguyen and today we’ll embark on a breakdown of why I absolutely love “Bring Me Your Love (feat. THEA) — Tennyson Remix” by Giraffage, THEA, and Tennyson. I’ll start off by saying, this will not be a comparative piece between the original and remix ((though I will do that with other pieces in the future)) and we’ll be solely focusing on this remix. I’m going to test a few formats for this until I find one I like, and why not start with a full song breakdown/walkthrough for a song that I think deserves it.
Verse 1 (0:00):
This piece begins with few elements and creates a sparse aural landscape for these opening bars. The first three things heard are the piano, the “rain” noise, and the sample/synth. While the piano is presented in the foreground, you have the other two elements a little farther back, taking a back seat to the main melodic/harmonic content. The piano is playing a short bit which centers around E, but the tonal center hasn’t really been strongly established yet ((via some sort of cadence or even any progression of harmony)) and we’re just sort bouncing around an E. Also to throw a further wrench into E as the tonal center is the emergence of more pitches in the background, a B the floats in the air after the second attack on the piano, and then a C# quickly follows suit creating a bit of ambiguity/tension to be resolved soon. Combine this harmonic ambiguity with the rhythmic ambiguity created by the rhythms the piano and the sample have plus the lack of a rhythm section defining the beat ((which is to come)), and you get a subtle tension and a mood established. Everyone will have a different through on what the mood is but for me, it’s a sense of longing and emptiness. Moving forward, between the repeat of this first bars, there’s a really cool synth/sample percussive effect (0:05) that adds to this feeling of emptiness for me and keeps the momentum going through the rest on the piano. The bars repeat and you get this soft synth on G# (0:13) which replaces that sample from (0:05) keep the momentum moving forward and into the vocal part of the first verse.
Now at (0:15) we get some toms on the left to give a stronger sense of the beat ((this piece is in 4/4)) immediately followed by the melody which reaffirms it. The opening section that we heard was in halftime and the beat/rhythms are now clear: The piano was playing a Latin triplet which has been augmented to be 2 bars as opposed to its usual 1 and the sample from earlier was being played on beat 3 of each bar. Now the melody and those toms have taken the foreground and since we’ve heard the material in the opening bars a few time, they gently now reside in the middle ground for the piano and the background for the other three elements. Now from this point forward, more layers/textures are being added on all the while still including the elements from the opening bars while still not providing a strong tonal center, especially as compared to the chorus coming up. ((I’m not going to nitpick every addition here like I did earlier or this essay will get real long, but I do wanna mention the pitched down melody line panned right (0:34) into the effect we’ll hear more of later (0:36) because I think it’s so cool and adds this really dramatic flair to the mood which is now shifting from longing/emptiness to a longing/sorrow)) Through the act of adding layers and creating contrast from the sparse opening bars which are now firmly in the background, the piece has a strong drive towards the chorus until the (0:41) mark where it takes this “Breath” where it’s just the melody over the decay of a chord that just rang out into this really cool synth/sample (0:43) ((that almost sounds like a filtered and pitched version of part of the melody in the chorus)) into the booming chorus. In this case, the sudden reduction of layers right before the chorus, filled with this wonderful soundscape, creates a dramatic and emotional moment through extreme contrast.
Chorus 1 (0:45):
First and foremost, I should talk about the rhythms and feeling of the beat. Just like the opening bars of the piece, this section takes place in half-time ((i.e. the drums are playing a rhythmic pattern which emphasizes a backbeat, but the hits for said backbeat are taking place every 3rd beat of the measure, and the harmonic rhythm is a dotted half for the first chord into a quarter tied into a whole note as the next chord and repeat)). In terms of the harmony the progression goes along ((approximately, the chords have this really nice mushy feeling to them which is hard for me to hear dictate, more on that later, but here’s what I think the chords are)) as a C#m F#7/A# F#m7 D/F#. What is wonderful about this is: A) It has now firmly established itself in C# minor, B) it doesn’t have any cadences common to most music in this genre ((i.e. PAC/HC/DC)), but rather opts for this ephemeral usage of the bII6 ((not a N6 only because to me that implies a predominant function as opposed to how I perceive its usage)) a chord borrowed from Phrygian used with a b2 tendency tone back to the i, and C) I just really love anything that uses Phrygian at this point, it’s my favorite mode.
These two elements combine already create this beautiful mood, something reflective, something sorrowful, something longing, but I think what really sells the emotions that are happening is the vocal part in conjunction with the textures and layers that are being implemented. The voice part repeats itself, but that isn’t a bad thing. I think in this climactic moment in the song, the fact that the melody is repeating “I will give you everything you like” 4 times over the course of the full chorus adds to the longing and sorrow that this piece is creating. Finally oh man, these layers are something beautiful. You have the sound from (0:43) being reused throughout in the middle ground right before the voice reemerges out of rest ((e.g. at (0:51))) to keep the momentum going while the voice is in rest and just it’s the a chord hanging in the air with the percussion pushing onward. There’s a synth which makes the chords sound so warm, mushy, and full. The bass is low and booming with this nice timbre ((which sits in with the synth keys well)) and what sounds like a slight crescendo after each hit and can we talk about those bass slides at (0:56 & 0:59) they are a divine addition to the soundscape.
So that’s only the first half of the chorus, the way it moves into the second half with just the voice (1:00) before everything comes crashing back in ((similar to that “breath” from earlier)) punctuates a dramatic moment through contrast. What’s cool about this second half is that everything from the first half repeats, but now with two added layers to keep things interesting now that we’ve heard the pervious accompaniment before and moves those layers a little more back. One is the addition of a pitched down echo in the right ear of the melody whenever it rests ((e.g. (1:02))) and I think that adds such a nice moody detail hidden in the middle ground. The other addition is this nice little motive, of E D# B C# (1:02) on what sounds like some sort of keys until the last note becoming a string instrument and then gets sequenced up a P4 and put into just a string instrument (1:10) ((I’m not completely sure it’s hard to hear)).
Verse 2 (1:16):
I absolutely love the way they handled this second verse. They give it a lot more momentum via layers, as opposed to the start of verse one. It keeps the halftime that starts off the verse, but now adds a 2 octave or so pitched down version of the melody on top of that to keep the momentum of the melody lower than its regular version and match the mood that’s being created in the other layers. The keys this time are joined with another instrument and now have a low more rolls going on in their part, as opposed to verse one. There is a percussion instrument in the form of the wood block-like thing which reaffirms the halftime and adds a little more push than the ephemeral sample/synth we heard in verse one, but even that sample/synth is STILL HIDDEN IN THE BACKGROUND UNDER THE BLOCK AND THATS SO COOL I DIDN’T NOTICE UNTIL JUST NOW THIS OMG THAT DETAIL BLOWS MY MIND. Calming down a bit, instead of the “rain” we heard earlier, there’s a sample of birds being used to brighten the mood a bit. Speaking of brightening the mood, the addition of the heavy reverb background pitches just being held against this portion adds to that happier mood.
Once we move into the second half of the first chorus (1:31), the above is now what’s playing the background and there some more additions and replacements to keep it similar enough from verse one while still maintaining its own identity as a separate verse. We have the percussive hits from verse one back to give a stronger sense of pulse back into not halftime, but are now played by a different percussive instrument!!!! ((SO COOL)) One of the additions directly influences what I see as that happier tone is the addition of the violin melody which is just a nice simple pretty melody to counter the melody that we heard before and, you guessed it, keeps the momentum going. However, just as the elements above make a happier tone, there are a few ominous things that happen, signaling the return of the chorus soon. One is the addition of the heartbeat bass thing that happens e.g. (1:31) and happens on the and of 3 and downbeat of 4 on every other measure. There’s the odd timbre in the vocal line which I can’t figure out how is done ((guesses include a second version of the same line on top of the original with a slight delay and/or filter on it, or some kind of filter on the original or???)) which creates a really tense feeling for me. Finally the pitched down version of the melody panned to the right (1:42) leaves such a strong impression on me.
The sample from (0:42) is now reused at (1:44), but the new element that rocks the final chorus, the synth drums are played over the sample and ends the verse with this wonderful sample swept from the left to the right (1:46).
Chorus 2 (1:47):
So for me, there’s not much to say here except that the addition of those drums really drives this piece home. There’s the addition of an echo in the left ear of the melody in the first half of the second chorus, but I didn’t notice anything other than that. There might be more changes I missed, but I’m just entranced by how all of these elements came together to create an exciting and powerful finale that still retains that sorrow mentioned earlier.
Final Seconds (2:17):
This part is what really drives home the emotions for me and definitely has made me cry before. So the energy level comes to a sudden halt. Just like the transition from the first verse to first chorus, this sudden reduction of layers and volume creates a final dramatic moment. It oozes with emotion as the title of the song is finally sung three times, resolving on E, but after having a roaring chorus in C# minor to just sorta end on the E feels so unresolved and uneasy in the best way possible. We also get the reintroduction of those elements found at the very start, to take us to that quiet place at the beginning until the nothingness of the end through the removal of the piano.
So there’s a lot going on in this, I’m deep diving into all of the details because it’s these details layered and layered on top of each other that create this wonderful song and by peeling back those layers to their base components I can firmly say why I love this piece.
1. They keep everything moving and everything interesting. Their addition and subtraction of layers throughout the piece, as well as the changes made between the first and second verse/chorus keep a solid flow going and that momentum train moving fast.
2. I love their usage of ambiguity to their advantage especially at the beginning and end. It evokes very strong emotional reactions from me and I think that’s awesome that harmony doesn’t have to be a clear and clean progression every time ((i.e. 4 chord songs)). Speaking of emotions…
3. They have a very strong understanding of how emotions tie into the music they’re writing. This ties into their choice of timbre, harmony, how things are layered, etc.
4. I absolutely love how dramatic they were with this, the heavy contrast between quiet sections/loud sections and low/high levels of layering really adds to the piece instead of feeling cliché.
5. The final climactic moment of the piece and the resolution feel really earned and everything in the piece built up to those last moments. There was no wasted time to get from the start to the end ((e.g. songs that are literal repeat bars on the verse/chorus with only the lyrics changing between verses that don’t try anything and have completely stagnate energy levels throughout. Maybe I should write about those next week….))
6. They have a nice level of detail that I appreciate a lot. They don’t put too many which can be completely lost to the average listener, nor too little which can get kinda bland. It’s the Goldilocks zone for their piece and worked for what they set out to do.
Hit me up on twitter if you wanna talk about this or just any music stuff @aln_msc and I’ll be back with another post next week ((hopefully in a less stream of consciousness style)).