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4.   Analytical Findings


feature in the acoustic guitar of ‘In The Neighbourhood’ and the vocal of ‘Four Seasons In One Day.’

This is only a brief introduction to the rhythmic foundations of Nature’s Best songs. Overall, however, the drum patterns are relatively standard within popular music conventions and there is almost no recourse to complex time signatures. More analysis could consider the different drum patterns used within the larger subsets; this would distinguish between, say, the metal patterns of Shihad’s ‘Bitter’ and the Latin-infused beat of Shona Laing’s ‘Mercy Of Love.’

Further analysis could also employ computer programmes to break down the beats into minute segments; one could then analyse in detail particular beats, such as the more intricate shuffles. It would be highly beneficial to move from accurate but interpretative descriptions, as has been done above, to precise measurements that explain exactly how a groove is constructed.

The frequency of hook types is outlined in Table 4.12.

Primary Hook Frequency Secondary Hook Frequency

Harmony 46 Harmony 26

Melody 29 Melody 18

Beat 9 Beat 2

Rhythm 2 Rhythm 3

Instrumentation 0 Instrumentation 18

Table 4.12 Primary and Secondary Hooks

The “primary” column totals 86 because fourteen songs begin without an introduction. Five of these fourteen songs start with the title line in the chorus.

Sharon O’Neill’s ‘Maybe’ also opens with the title line, while ‘Out On The Street’ catches the listener’s attention with the bold, yet mysterious command,

“Watch out young love…” These examples indicate a lyrical, rather than instrumental hook.

The “secondary” column totals less than the “primary” column because of the nineteen songs deemed not to have a second hook. In ‘Andrew’ by Fur Patrol, this is obvious enough; the four-bar introduction lays down the drum beat and nothing else. In Crowded House’s ‘Distant Sun,’ Neil Finn strums repeated I-IV chords on the acoustic guitar. A ringing electric guitar plays fragments behind Finn throughout the eight bars, but serves more as a harmonic embellishment than another hook. Similarly, there is “rhythm” and a “beat” to Finn’s playing but neither are remarkable and, thus, the harmony was considered the only hook of this introduction.

The most frequent primary hook is harmonic, often with the purpose of

establishing a central progression of the song. Only ‘E Ipo’ contained material that did not recur during the song. Its introduction is unexceptional; it asserts the key with an extended circle-of-fifths progression ending on V. More common were the 36 songs with primary harmonic hooks reappearing in the verse. These included riffs, such as Isus4-I in ‘April Sun In Cuba,’ fragments of the verse progression, such as Ic-bVI in ‘I Got You,’ bIII-IV in ‘Tears’ or I-bIII in ‘Part Of Me,’ or a full verse progression, such as in ‘Venus,’ ‘Sierra Leone’ or ‘Be Mine Tonight.’ In ‘Husband House,’ two ideas combine to form a hook. The opening

guitar line of hollow fifths is complemented by a single major ninth chord; both reappear throughout the verse.

The other harmonic hooks are heard again either in the chorus, such as ‘She Speeds’ and ‘One Day Ahead,’ or in instrumental sections, as in Hello Sailor’s

‘Blue Lady.’ The introduction of Bic Runga’s ‘Bursting Through’ forms the genesis of the verse — a four-bar I-IV-V morphs into I-iii-IV-V over eight bars

— but the particular instrumental arrangement from the introduction is not heard again until the coda. The same technique is heard in Runga’s ‘Sway’ and The Mockers’ ‘Forever Tuesday Morning’; the identical opening and closing statements provide a structural frame to each song.

Whereas the harmonic hooks more frequently recurred in the verses, the melodic hooks resurface more often in the instrumental and chorus sections. In ‘Weather With You,’ ‘Violent’ or ‘Anchor Me,’ the hooks form an interlude between the first and second verses, and thus, their importance should not be overstated. In other cases, such as ‘Don’t Fight It Marsha,’ ‘Gutter Black’ or ‘Dominion Road,’ the instrumental sections are laced throughout the song, which turns the melodic hook into a quasi-refrain. Similarly, the opening guitar lines of ‘History Never Repeats’ and ‘Rust In My Car’ are heard in the choruses, the former underneath the vocals and the latter in counterpoint to the singer.

This observation should be expected, as the melodic hook is analogous to a chorus line. Both should be memorable in their own right and also recur frequently throughout the song to enhance this memorable nature. Given that choruses and instrumental refrains provide the best opportunity for repeating material, compared to a verse or bridge, it is not surprising that the melodies are initially used to ‘hook’ the listener.

Don McGlashan appears frequently in this category; four of his five songs have melodic hooks. This feature resonates with one of the songwriter’s comments on musical construction. McGlashan said more could be achieved musically when

bands write “lines” as opposed to just chords.54 This remark was made regarding

‘Anchor Me’ and so is not directly applicable to his earlier Blam Blam Blam work; however, it suggests his compositional process may involve thinking melodically, hence the prevalence of melodic hooks in his songs.

The two primary rhythm hooks are heard in Supergroove’s ‘Can’t Get Enough’

and Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over.’ ‘Can’t Get Enough’

immediately establishes its funk shuffle groove with the horns playing in three-note bursts that anticipate the downbeat of each bar. This transforms into a punchy two-bar riff that begins on the backbeat and hits every fourth quaver thereafter. The harmony remains on a vague I7; the cross-rhythms between the 4/4 drums and horns provide the introduction’s impetus.

The introduction of ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ is similarly marked by an energetic guitar. The electric guitar riff blurs I-bVII harmonically, with the fifth running through the progression. This feature is in contrast to the crisp rhythms. Neil Finn clips the upstroke on the fourth semiquaver of each downbeat, except for the final crotchet in each two-bar phrase, which is sustained. In this regard, the guitar riff is similar to the “Pacific” strum, which has historically been

appropriated by New Zealand artists to add a local flavour to their work.55 The upstroke defines the introduction and, by anticipating each backbeat, drives the guitar riff. Further, the rhythmic pattern underpins the verse progression, albeit with less clarity, suggesting it is an important component of the song.

Of the secondary hooks, harmony and melody were again prominent; overall, 36 songs used a melody-harmony hook combination, which should be of little surprise as both are fundamental elements of any song. Instrumentation hooks were also frequent. Some of these songs introduced one or more instruments that are less common in the rock/pop band lineup, such as the picked, steel-string acoustic guitar in ‘How Bizarre,’ the gamelan and lap-steel guitar in

54 Interview.

55 See Jennifer Cattermole, “‘Oh, Reggae But Different!’ The Localisation of Roots Reggae in Aotearoa,” in Home, Land and Sea: Situating Music in Aotearoa/New Zealand, eds. Glenda Keam and Tony Mitchell (Auckland: Pearson, 2011), pp. 51-52.

‘Andy,’ or the percussion and double bass combination in ‘Bursting Through.’

Other songs added distinctive effects to common instruments, such as light phasing on the guitar in Emma Paki’s ‘System Virtue’ or heavy guitar distortion in ‘Jesus I Was Evil’ and ‘Pacifier.’ Others featured instruments memorable for their sheer grandeur, such as the lush synthesizers and keyboards of ‘I Hope I Never,’ ‘Message To My Girl’ and ‘Oughta Be In Love.’

In several songs, the opening instrumentation foreshadows the lyrics. This includes the accordion56 in ‘French Letter,’ and the synthesizers and percussion of ‘Asian Paradise’ that evoke the sounds of traditional Chinese instruments.

Similarly, the synthesizer in ‘Room That Echoes’ has a short echo added and creates a hard, metallic sound that would bounce around a room, as per the title.

Other instrumental hooks indicate style, such as the synthesizers and saxophone in Sharon O’Neill’s 1980s-pop hit ‘Maxine’ or the techno synthesizers in Stellar’s dance-rock ‘Violent’ released in 1999. That said, instrumental hooks are difficult to judge, especially when the listener is removed from the songs’

original contexts. ‘Message To My Girl’ or ‘Oughta Be In Love,’ for example, stand out because their keyboard arrangements appear exaggerated; to a listener in the 1980s, this may have been a less remarkable feature.

Finally, three secondary rhythmic hooks are used in Dave Dobbyn songs.

‘Language,’ ‘Bliss’ and ‘Be Mine Tonight’ are in 4/4 time, but the guitar

accents contravene metrical conventions. ‘Language’ is the most straightforward with accents in each bar falling on the first, fourth and seventh quavers; thus, the quavers are grouped in three, three and two. In ‘Be Mine Tonight’ the rhythm guitar plays four-bar phrases. The first three bars are divided into groups of three quavers, with the accent shifting through the bar. The fourth bar contains evenly accented quavers as the harmony shifts to the dominant. ‘Bliss’ is more irregular; the initial chords are accented on offbeat quavers before a variation on the three-three-two grouping heard in ‘Language.’ Over two bars, quavers are

56 The tracks sounds initially like a solo accordion, but it was actually doubled by a saxophone during recording. From email contact with Dilworth Karaka.

grouped in threes but beginning on the second beat of the bar; thus, the final two quavers of the two bars are grouped together.

These rhythmic groupings are comparable to those listed by Traut; he argues these accent patterns functioned as hooks in much 1980s pop and rock music and would have been “stock gestures” for musicians of that era.57 Dobbyn falls outside Traut’s specific timeframe; however, as a member of Th’ Dudes, Dobbyn was working in the same mainstream rock context. The hook in

‘Language’ (1994) may be a musical hangover from Dobbyn’s time in rock bands. Traut suggests one function of these accent patterns is to establish songs’

grooves58; this is the case in Dobbyn’s songs, with each hook retained after the introduction in the subsequent verse.

To understand these findings, a comparison with other data is appropriate, such as with the Rolling Stone “500 Greatest Songs” list. Of the top twenty on the Rolling Stone list, four begin immediately with lyrics, a similar proportion to Nature’s Best. Primary harmony hooks appear in ten songs; of these, eight lay a structural foundation for the verse, such as in ‘Imagine’ or ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ Melodic hooks in ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ and ‘Satisfaction’ both reappear in the songs’ respective choruses. Instrumentation hooks are also important, ranging from the distorted guitars in ‘My Generation’ to Richards’

fuzz guitar in ‘Satisfaction’ or Al Kooper’s organ in ‘Like A Rolling Stone.’

The introductory hooks of Nature’s Best, therefore, appear to be on par with the Rolling Stone songs. This is not to directly relate the two bodies of songs, but to again suggest common songwriting techniques. There is little correlation

between the hook type and other variables, such as chart position, Nature’s Best position or year. Instead, there are traces of individual songwriter traits, such as McGlashan’s propensity for melodic hooks, Dobbyn’s tendency for driving guitar rhythms or Runga’s use of introductory hooks in her songs’ formal

57 Don Traut, “‘Simply Irresistible’: Recurring Accent Patterns as Hooks in Mainstream 1980s Music,” Popular Music 24, no. 1 (2005), pp. 63-66.

58 Ibid., 70.

designs. Further research could expand on these observations and determine whether there are stronger relationships between hooks and styles.