How Does the Piece ‘Ocean’ by John Butler Use Guitar Techniques to Appeal Popular to the 21st Century Audience?

Topics: Music, Chord, Jazz Pages: 5 (1522 words) Published: July 28, 2010
How does the piece ‘Ocean’ by John Butler use guitar techniques to appeal popular to the 21st century audience?

The piece ‘Ocean’ by John Butler appeals popular to the 21st century audience through his variety of guitar techniques. Butler uses an 12 stringed semi-acoustic guitar with open C tuning and Capo on the 4th fret giving an open chord of E Major. The song is through composed and consists of several sections that demonstrate guitar techniques and musical concepts.

The introduction has a piano volume level with sustained power chords (A5, B5, G#5, E5) layered behind the C# melody.

Butler uses the guitar techniques of hammer ons, pull offs, finger picking, slides and tapping. These techniques are continually used throughout the song but are more prominent in the introduction however, tapping is only used in this section. They create the feeling and tone colour for the song which is happy, joyful, light and mellow.

The pitch of this section is a higher melody with lower chordal accompaniment. The repetition of the notes G#, E, D#, F# and B reinforce the tone colour of the song and are repeated throughout the introduction giving the audience a taste of the song to come however, these notes are also repeated in similar patterns through certain sections in the song which gives the audience a sense of melody or relation even though there is not set melody or riff.

This section has a homophonic texture which is successfully being achieved on the same instrument making it a unique technique. Due to the tuning simple power chords are simpler and easier to obtain by tapping then they would be with standard tuning. The texture is very thin as only one instrument is being used and is being finger picked and tapped. It is concluded by a decrescendo which leads into the next section.

There is a sudden change of tempo from 75bpm to 88bpm and also a change in sense of melody.

Guitar techniques used still include finger picking, pull-offs, hammer-ons and slides however, bending is added in this section as shown in the excerpt:

This is the first inclusion of a bend which when heard creates emphasis on the D#. Throughout this section there is also a lot of musical phrasing which sound almost like improvised melodic fills. The phrasing acts as a response to the repeated call:

Through the use of call and response different dynamics and expressive techniques become easier to incorporate such as the slow strum of the E and B noted chord, bending of D# and also use of chords such as the G# and B noted chord as phrasing.

As this section progresses on it is obvious that Butler stays within the C# minor scale- C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A and B. These are the only notes he uses and although in minor he manages to make the song sound cheerful, upbeat and happy. This section also ends with a decrescendo which enhances the next tempo change.

There is a subito allegro where the tempo changes again from 88bpm to 132bpm. The guitar techniques of pull-offs and hammer-ons become a lot faster and advanced, sometimes pulling off and hammering on 4 or 5 times in a row:

This shows how the piece progresses, slowly becoming more advanced and repeating certain sections of runs from the introduction allowing the audience to hear relations. The majority of notes are semi-quavers which contribute to the staccato heard throughout the piece. This creates a more upbeat, presto vibe. The tone colour remains happy and joyful but has built into more such as sharp, quick and stronger.

Also the entire song is very syncopated this section is more dominant in syncopation as it is faster and requires precise timing and rhythm. Butler also uses his foot in the actual recording to give it a obvious beat and to add percussion. This helps the syncopation and keeps the timing and rhythm precise.

The pitch is this section remains in the same register, therefore isn’t greatly varied however, the...
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