Listen to the intro of the following MuteMath song, Break The Same:

These guys are stellar and well known their innovative songwriting and grandois shows. I really like how the introduction to this song begins with the guitar riff carrying the melody and then the bass + keytar resolve the line very nicely at the end of the bar.

I would like to know if there's anything interesting happening here theory-wise, specifically in the intro/chorus bars. I would love to be able to emulate this sort of melodic convergence.


Its an awesome track, i enjoyed it; but technically nothing unusual happens until the Avant-garde bit at the end.

The general idea seems to be a variation around a C# minor theme (from the 9th fret on the g'tar);

First Bit

Bass: is playing F# B C# then an open E string run E/F# E/Ab B/C (I think :))

Guitar: is alternate picking Ab its 5th(Eb) / Ab its 4th(C#) / Ab its flat 7(F#)

The rest is a variation on this at different velocity, if you figure out the first bit you'll have the rest no probs.

The picked notes by the guitar almost make up an Abmin7 chord, which I think i heard strummed as a chord in the quieter interludes and towards the end of the song.

And actually, the bass provides the B(flat 3rd), which is the missing tone from the guitar picking section.

Its ok to play C# Dorian over this Abmin7, since it shares the all the same notes as Ab minor; and all the notes of Abmin7 (Ab Eb F# B) appear in both Ab minor(C# Dorian) and C# Minor. (And in fact I think the last section; before the drum bit ends up in Ab minor)

Thats the only thing going on in this really; and its brilliant; its the kind of thing i like to do a lot.

  • Thanks DRL. I'm a novice when it comes to analyzing harmonies, and you have helped me to understand what's going on. I appreciate it! – Jduv Jan 25 '11 at 12:35
  • No probs, i don't think i've got it spot on; but its a start. – Bella Jan 25 '11 at 12:43

Sounds all diatonic to me. Just arrangement. I don't here what you are hearing. The guitar is playing a simple riff(nothing special). The keyboard has it's melody(kinda strange sounding IMO). The bass plays a simple ascending bass line. The drums do start off with a rather unusual but good sounding drum beat.

Doesn't seem much "special" going on here. Such as complex harmonies, complex polyphony(there is polyphony due to the different instruments but they are "accidental"), etc...

What I'm getting at is that individually the different melodies that each instrument plays is rather bland. Like always, anytime you play them together there are new melodies and harmonies created. Did they sit down and just come up with random parts and throw them together? Of course not. Is there anything spectacular going on? Of course not. If you like it, it is because you have similar taste to those guys. If you don't then it's cause you don't.

Unfortunately no one has been able to beat Bach in his polyphony and he still is up there in some of the most complex harmonies(and virtually all of it was intentional). Just imagine what he could do today! This is not to knock everyone else. Bach, overall, just seems to have been light years above anyone else. It doesn't mean everyone else sucks or that they didn't do cool things. Even simple things can sound very cool and you can't compare different styles of music. Obviously Bach didn't rap so just about any rapper will be better than Bach. What we can say is that if Bach was a live and rapped he probably would be the best... and would still suck as a mechanic, or anything else non-musical.

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    -1 Dude. Huh? You lost me in that last paragraph. Just imagine what Bach could do today? You mean, given all the advances in sheet music technology and violin bowing? Bach as a rapper? Bach as a mechanic? What are you talking about? – Alex Basson Jan 25 '11 at 0:55
  • I don't quite understand how what they are doing is uninteresting. I mean it's not as complex as a symphony, but the syncopation between instruments is phenomenal. – Jduv Jan 25 '11 at 1:13
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    @AbstractDissonance: In retaliation for my comment, you have downvoted eight of my other posts (apparently selected randomly). This is, of course, your right to do, and I support that right. But the etiquette around here is as follows: when we downvote a post, we also leave a comment explaining our vote and how the post could be improved. I would appreciate it if you would go back and leave those comments, so that I may improve them and serve the guitars.SE community better in the future. Thank you. – Alex Basson Jan 25 '11 at 11:56
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    In all honesty dude, I don't care if you like the track or not, I just wanted to know exactly what was going on--irregardless of how simple it is. Note that I never asked you to critique the track, but instead to explain to me what's happening musically. It seems you know something about music theory, and you could have easily explained to me what was happening without being condescending. I'm self taught--so I know absolutely nothing about the academic construction of a musical work. – Jduv Jan 25 '11 at 12:37
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    Btw, apropos of nothing in particular, Bach would have been an awesome mechanic. He was constantly tinkering with instruments, trying to improve their sound and playability. He had a thorough and complete understanding of the inner workings of the church organ, which was at the time the most complex mechanical device of any kind in the entire world. If Bach were alive today, I would absolutely trust him to repair my transmission. Just sayin'. – Alex Basson Jan 25 '11 at 14:21

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