New tune, Can't sit down

  • With the obvious caveat that I enjoy pretty much all of your stuff, I find it interesting that when most people say "heavy" what they really mean is "minor / dissonance / dark / evil."


    To be sure, the dropped pitch of a low tuned guitar coupled with some great sounding amp distortion can make the tone itself sound "heavy," and that's a rockin' guitar sound. However, you almost never hear this kind of tone emphasized on a track that's all hugs and bunnies. Honestly, your stuff is the closest I've heard to that, but any time you intentionally go heavy it's consistently mated with a conspicuously minor / dissonance oriented vibe.


    So, here's a songwriting challenge for you (i.e. your mission, should you choose to accept it). Take the most drop tuned, slamming amp distortion tone you can find, and then write a happy song that's all hugs and bunnies instead of dark and evil sounding. Major thirds instead of flat seconds. Harmony instead of dissonance purely for the sake of dissonance. Feel good instead of bloody skulls with daggers through the eyeballs.


    Of course, I realize that this won't please the masses as for whatever bizarre reason people are very anti-happy these days, but it would still be interesting to hear a "heavy" guitar tone in a song that actually had a positive vibe instead of a negative one. And you seem uniquely qualified for this kind of thought exercise.

  • With the obvious caveat that I enjoy pretty much all of your stuff, I find it interesting that when most people say "heavy" what they really mean is "minor / dissonance / dark / evil."

    I don't mean it that way. I mean "heavy" like how Marty McFly uses it towards Doc Brown, and Doc relates it to strong gravitational forces which is not necessarily evil or dark. You see, dark can mean "dark matter" which is something Doc did not know about at the time, but since he had a time machine, I'm sure he could travel to the future and find out for himself if I am going to be a rock star. Unless the "evil" Biff Tannen steals the time machine like he did in Episode II. In which case, we are all screwed.

    The more you find what Kemper can do then the harder you try to find what it cannot do -- like make a good cup of Frappuccino.

  • I don't mean it that way. I mean "heavy" like how Marty McFly uses it towards Doc Brown, and Doc relates it to strong gravitational forces which is not necessarily evil or dark. You see, dark can mean "dark matter" which is something Doc did not know about at the time, but since he had a time machine, I'm sure he could travel to the future and find out for himself if I am going to be a rock star. Unless the "evil" Biff Tannen steals the time machine like he did in Episode II. In which case, we are all screwed.

    Man, I haven't seen pretzel logic like that since Happy Hour at Joe's Bar and Grille. :)

  • ?????? The thing is Chris, my music and writing is probably in a ratio of about 95% happy to 5% menacing. I never ever set-out to write a happy or a dark tune, they just come out the way they come out and i run with it. Now i don't know about you but i am lucky enough to have a few guitars and what i find is that i write differently on each guitar, you could say that it's the guitar that holds the vibe of the tunes.


    Let me explain. When i play my Ibanez PGM which, i keep in drop C, the music that comes out is usually in Cm as when i strike that low C and drive it through the Cm chord it just sounds and feels fantastic. So, this is where the inspiration comes and the tune starts. When i play my tele it's always usually in Gmajor for the exact same reason, striking the Gmajor chord just sounds brilliant and the rest of the tune follows.


    I've never been able to force myself to write a tune or write something happy or menacing, i've got to let it just happen and see what comes out. I just noodle around and get the start of an idea and i'm away.

  • Let me explain. When i play my Ibanez PGM which, i keep in drop C, the music that comes out is usually in Cm as when i strike that low C and drive it through the Cm chord it just sounds and feels fantastic. So, this is where the inspiration comes and the tune starts. When i play my tele it's always usually in Gmajor for the exact same reason, striking the Gmajor chord just sounds brilliant and the rest of the tune follows.

    Yeah, I know what you mean as my guitars write most of my songs. I once had a song pop into my head complete with full band arrangement while I was in the shower (what, you couldn't wait until I was dry?), but that's an anomaly. Usually I noodle around on electric or acoustic and when something feels good, I chase it. I once actually ripped off one of my own songs without realizing it until a friend pointed it out. I guess it must have felt good enough to do twice.


    The PGM in drop C wanting to speak in Cm is really kinda the heart of my curiosity, because it seems to me that in general the low tuned guitars want to speak minor. Being an old classic rocker, I came up on standard E tuning. It feels happy, and I write bluesy / happy songs. However, when I hear a guitar that's low tuned, even without the dropped E, it doesn't feel happy. It feels dark, moody and negative.


    Then I thought maybe it's the dropped E that takes it into minor territory (even though it's not a minor 3rd), but Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls is in E with a dropped D and it's happy, feel good, foot stomping music. So, that theory doesn't seem to hold water.


    Logically, if a guitar is in standard tuning but just lowered to D or below, you should be able to play the same kind of music and just get the ballsiness of the low tuning. So, theoretically at least, you should be able to play feel good stuff on low tuned guitars. But for some reason, I think most people have your experience. They pick up the guitar and it wants to speak minor, not major. And that's the part that puzzles me intellectually.


    I've tried experimenting with lower tunings, but I just can't bond with it. I think part of it may be that I need to bump up the string gauge from my normal 10s to 11s in order to offset the loosey-goosey feeling of the lowered tension. Mostly, however, it just doesn't feel right sonically. I don't know if my brain is just conditioned to hear standard E or if it's something else, but lowering the pitch of the guitar makes me want to blow my head off with a shotgun, so to speak. And yet, it's standard tuning, so it shouldn't make a difference.


    You're definitely 95% happy, but you occasionally go into minor territory and get some great heavy guitar tones. That made me wonder if it's even possible to write something that's hugs and bunnies on a low tuned guitar, because if the Ibanez speaks minor to you of all people, then maybe that's just the way it is. Nonetheless, I just don't understand why dropping the tuning on an electric guitar immediately makes it sound minor / dark / evil. It's a real head scratcher.

  • Chris


    Funnily enough, i got a 7 string Ibanez guitar about 8 years and i played that constantly for at least 4-5 years whilst i still played in a band. I wrote some of my most melodic, happy tunes on that guitar and not a lot of minor key tunes AT all. I find the difference in playing a 7 string turned to B (E standard with a low B) a completely difference sonic and feeling experience than playing a 6 string tuned down to Drop C. Who knows what this says but this is definitely my experience.

  • Chris


    Funnily enough, i got a 7 string Ibanez guitar about 8 years and i played that constantly for at least 4-5 years whilst i still played in a band. I wrote some of my most melodic, happy tunes on that guitar and not a lot of minor key tunes AT all. I find the difference in playing a 7 string turned to B (E standard with a low B) a completely difference sonic and feeling experience than playing a 6 string tuned down to Drop C. Who knows what this says but this is definitely my experience.

    That makes sense given that you were in E but just had the extra heft of the bottom string. Something about E feels happy, and lower tunings don't. You'd think it would be no different than a key change in a song, but there's something sonic going on that's beyond my understanding.