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Recreating the Genre I Hate Most - Bro Country

I walk through the arrangement and writing techniques used, from a heavy reliance on pentatonic minor and cookie-cutter song structure to more obscure harmonies and techniques. I hate to be negative, and I don’t want to dismiss this genre outright. But you can’t like everything, and this genre just rubs me the wrong way for reasons that may become obvious in the video. That doesn’t mean it’s bad music though- you like what you like. There’s lots of “good music” in the jazz realm that I can not stand listening to, that doesn’t negate it. Similarly, there’s lots of simple pop that I enjoy regardless of its basic nature. But even though I don’t believe in good music or bad music, I still believe in good natured criticism, and hopefully this video gets the point across- the genre is very easy to write. I believed that before going into this video and wasn’t sure how successful I’d be at recreating this genre, but now that it’s done I give myself a B+ I must say this isn’t my first crack at a writing a country song. A little while back, I produced and wrote a song with a local artist named Cara Jeanne, and we were aiming for a more mature version of a Taylor Swift song before she went full pop mode. If you’d like to hear that song, you can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMzxA... I actually encourage you to do this sort of thing. It is a great way to build your skills and experience. As a modern professional composer, you don’t always have the luxury of writing in genres you like, so going way outside of your tastes like this is a surefire way to grow and evolve. To expand on what happened with my harmonies- when It was only a parallel third, I liked it. But when I added in 6ths, it worked, but I felt it could be more interesting. Instead, I had the harmonies during the 2nd and 3rd choruses outline little bits of each chord tone as they tried their best to maintain a parallel motion. It didn't always work and I still don't like how they're mixed but it does add an incredible amount of interest to an otherwise simple pentatonic melody.

Transcription

 Please note, this transcription was computer generated and has not been checked for errors.  However, I do hope you find it helpful.   

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I have a feeling that a lot of you can relate to this following experience you turn on the radio and you hear a song. That is so bad. You think how could anyone listen to this? And then you start to realize wait, I could have written this then your confusion slowly morphed into anger as a Dawns on you that somebody's making a ton of money off of a song that you think you could have whipped up in a day is a bad joke upon reaching this state of mind. There's two choices you can take Choice one is to let the anger flow through you slowly consuming you like a Poison until you finally lash out in a fit of rage option number two is far more productive and that's what we're going to be talking about in this video. And that is to actually put your hypothesis to the test and try to actually work to create this genre. You hate so much you see being cynical and critical and throwing tomatoes from the sidelines is literally the easiest thing in the world to do it takes zero effort or creativity to just criticize the creations of others and the dunning-kruger effect is a real thing. It's very easy to overestimate your own.

Competency in a field that you've never actually touched before so instead of taking the dark path.

I advise you convert all that hatred anger and bitterness into an act of productivity and actually creating your own song for me personally. It's really easy to like lots of different kinds of music the more I learn about music the easier it is to find aspects of songs that I enjoy even if I don't like that song itself.

However, I have an abnormal and unjustified hatred towards the modern pop country genre. It's not all country that I have a problem with. I love me some Dolly Parton willing. Allison I think the sound of a pedal steel guitar is incredible but this modern bro country genre is something that I was subjected to for about 4 hours a day at my last job and that was only a little over two years ago. So the trauma is still fresh in my mind, but I vividly remember hearing those songs on a daily basis and saying to myself I could write that. So in this video, I'm actually going to put that to the test. I've written a modern pop country song and I want to show you literally every step of the way how I was able to make it from the chords and melodies. Is that I use to the general structure and the arrangement. So let's get started.

I began by thinking of a chorus section first and I knew I needed like a catchphrase something memorable singable and something slightly ridiculous. I was thinking back to other similar hit songs, like getting drunk on a plane or let's turn this cornfield into a party and I knew right away that I had a limited topics of which I was allowed to sing about so it have to be about one of the following beer pickup trucks girls blue jeans Church Dusty Rhodes small towns and or hometowns fishing clocking out of work, etc.

Etc. So I came up with this idea of my pickup. Truck is my best friend before I even got on an instrument. I just kind of played around singing that while I was in the car and walking around and I ended up coming up with this melody and this set of words and sounds like this. My pickup truck is my best friend. I'm gonna stick with me til the bitter and I said it before and I'll say it again a truck is a man's best friend.

Now, if you notice all of the notes that I sang there came from the e pentatonic minor scale. I also want to pay close attention to the fact that a lot of the times when I sing the note G which is my minor 3rd. And I have a tendency to bend it a little sharp to resolve back to e and that's a key element to twanging if you take a minor 3rd and you slightly bend it up into a neutral third territory where it starts rubbing up against that major. Third you get a really nice country sound or like a blue sound that is really indicative of that genre. Now, all of these notes came from E pentatonic minor so we might want to assume that our D minor chord should go underneath that but E minor is a very sad cord for a upbeat pop. Country song instead I chose to put an E major underneath that and that might seem like sacrilege. Why am I using a major chord with a pentatonic minor scale on top? Well, this is like the foundation of Blues and rock a lot of rock and blues is just you've got a major tonic but you're playing the notes of a pentatonic minor scale on top and it creates a lot of tension and a lot of that bluesy twang you feel so now if you hear that chorus again on top of any major, it sounds like this. My pickup truck is my best friend gonna stick and you can hear there's some Dissonance there but it's the distance that we want for a genre like this. However, it's pretty boring to write a chorus in just one chord. So I needed to add some extra cords to the mix and instead of thinking scales and keys and stuff like that. I really just wanted to kind of go with a classic rock. No Theory kind of feel all you got to do is take all the notes of your pentatonic minor scale eg a b and d and just give each one of them their own major chord. So I get an E major I get a g an A B and the D and I can kind of put those chords together in any order. Get a really cool chord progression. I also let myself you that c major chord because I knew would follow up really well with a d and e to give me a Mario Cadence something I talk about just a few videos ago. So with just those chords I was able to come up with this chord progression. And if I sing My Melody on top of these cords, here's what it sounds like. My pickup truck is my best friend gonna stick with me til the bitter and I said it before and I'll say it again a truck is a man's best friend to make this really feel like a course section. All we have to do is add in the other elements of a band. So I added in some base program drums and an extra guitar line on top my peak of trouble. He's my best friend gonna stick with me til the bitter.

And now if you add up all the notes in these Chords, it's quite a mess. I don't want to parse this as E major or E minor and borrowing from in between them. I just want to think we're in like a blues. I know that's not a key. The key of E Blues doesn't exist. But I think it would be really silly to say that we're in E Major here and I think would be silly to say we're an E minor. We're in this weird hybrid rock version of both of them now when I write vocal harmonies, Often thinking about how the harmonies interact with the chords underneath and this case. I just did straight parallel thirds meaning any note that I'm singing in my main Melody. I just go up a third and I stayed in the minor scale to find my Harmony note. My pickup truck is my best friend gonna stick with me til the bitter and later on. We'll talk about the second course. We're I not only added in a parallel third but a third above that to create a Sixth Harmony. So now that I've got my core section finished it was time to write a verse and our verse should really contrasts with our course if our course is this big thing. Thing with lots of fast chords and lots of different chords and I thought it would be nice to have our verse section be more subdued a little bit more rhythmically tight and far less harmonic complexity and nothing twangs like a banjo but I don't really know how to play the banjo. However, it has Frets and string so it only took me a few minutes to come up with this pentatonic riff.

Next I did want to add some percussion and the modern pop country genre has been borrowing a lot from hip-hop over these last few years. Not only just for their vocal lines, but for the percussion lies as well, so I grabbed this hip-hop drum kit and programmed in a really simple beat.

I think that sounds really great. But I also wanted to add in a little bit more of that country instrumentation. So I took an acoustic guitar and just palm-muted an E power chord and occasionally taking off my first finger to get a little bit of an inverted D power cord as well. So with just those three elements here was the verse beat now in a lot of country songs the lyrics tell the story from the very beginning to the very end. So for this first verse I decided to start telling a little tail About how my friends ditched me and I had to get drunk all alone not work a living He am trying to find out where the boys a band and this verse was followed up with the course that I already showed you but now I needed a second verse and for a second verse you do want it to contrast with the first verse. You don't want to always have a carbon copy of the exact same section to make this verse section sound more interesting than my previous verse section instead of doing Paul mutes. I just added in some acoustic strums instead. I also added a tambourine line and some background twang guitars just as another layer. Sure.

So I've got my first verse my first chorus my second verse and now we have to get to a second chorus and this is a really important part of any song because usually after this is where the song starts changing directions and maybe even starts wrapping up. So to make the second chorus a little different than the first one I wanted to do a double chorus.

However, I had a real problem doing that. So I'm going to play the end of that first chorus and then I'm going to try to repeat it right away, but you'll notice it doesn't quite work and it really just Falls flat. So we've got a saint A truck is a man's best friend pickup truck is my best friend, right? Like that doesn't work. We had kind of intentionally close off our Melody and then all of a sudden we resurrected the course up out from the dead and that doesn't flow at all to me. How can we fix this? Well, the real problem here is that I've got that a cord that just kind of cuts out dry. So instead of just stopping on that a chord. What if I just keep laying that anchor and then finally for the first time bring in a B major that's the dominant chord in the key of E and It's going to really help us come back to E major to repeat the whole thing. So now though that last string of cords would be a measure of a that a measure of thee. Come back pickup truck is my best friend.

Also, my melody implied that the course was ending when I dropped out an octave truck is a man's best friend. I mean that really sounds like things are supposed to end. So if I keep the melody up in a higher register, it should keep the energy writing out all the way through I said it before and I'll say it again a truck.

Superman's best friend.

My pickup truck is my best friend. You could hear that really helps us glue those two courses together without that strange awkward drop right in the middle. Now when your second course is done, that's usually the sign to change directions in a go into something new really give the listener something fresh. And what I opted for was just a guitar solo in E pentatonic minor and I didn't even change the chords that we were just hearing from under the course. It's the same chord progression all those chords we saw before the only difference here this time is I hang out on a for two measures and then I hang out on be for two measures. That should give you some nice tension to solo over really all I did was grab one of the most classic and overuse pentatonic licks possible, which is just an ascending triplet pattern. I think it worked out great.

Now this really is the spot where a bridge section or a middle-aged should occur, but I chose not to write a bridge section at all. It might have just been laziness, but I didn't really have an idea at the time for a bridge section and I thought we could have easily transition to another idea instead and that idea is to just take our chorus Melody drop the whole Melody down an octave and play it over the same Groove that we had for our verse and it gave us this a pickup truck. It's my best friend.

gonna stick with until the bitter and I really don't think I need to say it again now this is the most sparsely arranged part of the entire song all we have is a hi-hat an acoustic guitar and the vocals but it works as a really good way to keep things down here because for the next section our final courses we want them to be you know big and bombastic so to wrap things up we had to get to our final choruses and all I did to make these more interesting is just lift them all up one half step so instead of being a major Hazard tonal center now F major is our tonal Center and pretty much everything else is the same just up a half step higher now I wanted this to feel like a double chorus but I didn't actually just want to sing the chorus twice so I say the Course once and then the second time the chorus comes around it's more of like a vocal sustain with some little harmonies doing some interesting things grabbing from the major scale and the minor scale He's a man's best friend.

And finally, this helps me wrap things up and end on an F. Major chord truck is a man's best friend.

So this on clocks in at just over two minutes, which is pretty short for a pop song self-admittedly. I would want to make this a little bit longer who was actually to go out to a radio station, but without any further hesitation, I'd like to play you my first pop country single truck BFF getting off work.

Living p.m.

Trying to find out where the boys a band I try to reach jackbooted. Don't text back called up Dale got a voicemail.

Now what the hell I've been waiting all week to do a little partying with my feet but there's no one around they let me down. It's why I started singing in my pickup truck is my best friend gonna stick with me to the bitter and I said it before and I'll say it again. My truck is a man. Best friend in the truck.

I hate back home tonight. Looks like I'm drinking all zone. So we'll stop at the store. Get some whiskey and Coke a couple dog treats for my Greyhound smoke at what the hell walking through. My front door seemed a furniture store nibel over the floor. That wasn't the worst goes on top of my bed. My dog left a little present.

It's why my pickup truck is my best friend.

Way better than renting 10.

I said my pickup truck is my best friend never peed on the rug or took a dump on the bed. I said it before and I'll say it again a truck is a man's best friend.

A pickup truck. It's the best friend gonna stick with until the bitter ran. I really don't think I need to say it again, but I will but the a good drug is my best friend gonna stick right with the til the bitter and I set it up on should now say it again a truck is a man's best friend.

Man's Best Friend truck is a man's best friend.

Now to me that checks almost every box that needs to be checked in the genre but there are a few things that I feel are definitely lacking in that production. First off. I am not a vocalist and even though I don't think I did a terrible job. I know for a fact that if you brought a properly trained and experienced vocalist in here, they bring a whole different level of energy to that performance. And like I said, I think this is actually kind of short that's not a disqualifier. If you go back to the 60s and 70s, there was a lot of really good pop music that you know only clocked in at about 2 minutes and right now Old Town Road, which I actually like as a song.

That's another Very short song that still gets away with being short, but I do feel like it's kind of lazy to not include a bridge section in here. And if this was a song I heard on the radio, I would be making fun of it at the fact that it's so short and that it only talks about my pickup truck. I also think I may have gone a little too far with the Ridiculousness and some of these lyrics I mean, I don't know of actually any country songs that talk about taking a dump on the bed except for this one, but I've heard some really ridiculous things and pop country. So I honestly had no shame and putting it in there. But by far the hardest thing about this song was the production and Arrangement my production skills can only go so far. I have gear limitations. I have an idea limitations and I have experienced limitations.

So I think if you had taken the same song and give it into the hands of a really experienced producer, you might get a song that is even more enjoyable just because it's better arranged and I'm not gonna lie. I actually enjoyed doing this. I thought it was really fun writing three-part harmonies pickup truck is my best friend gonna stick with me til the bitter and and I do enjoy tweaking things until they feel just right. This isn't something I just puked out a few minutes. I actually Spent you know brain cells on making this sound what I thought it should sound like and even though I'm not a fan of the genre. I was certainly a fan of doing this project. So I learned a lot from doing this project, and I hope you learned a lot from watching me perform this project. If you enjoyed this video you're going to have to thank my awesome patreon supporters for making it possible if you'd like to join them. There's links Below in the description, but if you can't do that a like comment subscribe, I'll helps me out. Thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.

 





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