Posts Tagged ‘specialfocusstyles’

Special Focus Styles 2015-16

Posted: November 9, 2015 by TGASMrDunne in Songs
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The Chemical Brothers are on of the most influential dance acts of all time, and hit their commercial peak in the late 90s – early 2000s. (They are still releasing great records, this year’s ‘Born in the Echoes’ got to no. 1!) This is one of Mr Dunne’s favourites, from their 1999 album ‘Surrender’. Most Chemical Brothers tracks include heavy use of synths, creative sample processing and well conceived vocal parts, often from a featured artist.

Welcome to the 2015-16 cohort!

Posted: September 8, 2015 by TGASMrDunne in Updates
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A new year, new faces, and lots of new music to study and create! The blog will be updating regularly from now on, so visit often to get all the new information. There is a new page for the 2015-16 special focus styles, located in the AS Music Tech section.


Pages for Tasks 1a, 1c, 3a and 3c have all been updated!

Some more detail for your special focus style notes on Graham Coxon of Blur, plus lots of other interesting info on 90s guitarists. (Coxon is no 16)

Elastica were an alt/punk/indie band whose fame peaked in the mid 90s, with the release of their self titled (fastest selling ever) debut album, which entered the charts at No 1. Justine Frischmann provided the understated, conversational style vocals, over the bands hook heavy songs. Elastica found themselves at the centre of a controversy when several bands sued them successfully for plagarism, including post punk band Wire and the Stranglers. Elastica songs feature heavily distorted guitars playing catchy riffs, close harmony backing vocals and featured many female musicians in the original and subsequent line-ups.

Blur – Special Focus Styles

Posted: April 24, 2015 by TGASMrDunne in Homework, Songs
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Often described as one of the greatest British bands of all time, Blur have flirted with a range of different styles and genres across their active years. Blur took inspiration from British music of the 60s, and wrote many songs about everyday life. Graham Coxon’s signature chromatic riffs and Damon Albarn’s exaggerated ‘east end’ accent were integral parts of their earlier songs. The band started off writing ‘Madchester’ influenced songs, but only really gained critical and commercial success with the release of Parklife in 1994. Blur were part of the ‘Cool Britannia’ period in the late 90s that centred around the success of Britpop internationally, and the election of the New Labour government in 1997.

Special Focus Styles – Pulp

Posted: April 22, 2015 by TGASMrDunne in Homework, Songs
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Pulp were formed in the late 70s, but only really came to prominence in the 90s, with their blend of socially aware commentary and catchy tunes. Jarvis Cocker and the band created sometimes lavish longs focusing on the minutiae of everyday life, and rode the wave of Britpop success for a few years. They were also adept at blending an eclectic mix of styles, the swagger of glam rock, disco beats, synthesisers, indie thrash guitars or folk style violins and acoustic guitar. Cocker’s iconic vunerable vocal style (with occasional breathy spoken or falsetto moments) helped the band to stand out.

The now venerable northern rockers made a huge impact with their debut album. Aggressive moods, difficult topics and total confidence (sometimes verging into outright arrogance at times, see Alex Turners 2014 Brit speech). Their signature stripped back indie style includes loud guitars, often riff based songs (especially more recent ones) Turner’s unapologetic Sheffield-tinged drawling delivery, ‘detail rich’ semi-poetic lyrics full of wit, and a relatively lo-fi sound, especially on their earlier albums.

Dusty Springfield was an English singer who rose to fame with her own style of ‘blue-eyed soul’ – a more ‘strident yet vunerable’ style of singing. She instructed her session musicians to play in the style of her American contemporaries, and often recorded her vocals in unusual locations within recording studios to get the sound she wanted. Many critics mistakenly thought that she was African-American, due to the authentic sounding soul production and quality of her voice.

Special Focus Styles – Stevie Wonder

Posted: April 2, 2015 by TGASMrDunne in Songs
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Stevie Wonder has crossed a lot of genres, so students should be careful about which songs they use as examples of soul. Famous for his creative syncopated keyboard lines, inventive jazz influenced harmonic sequences, use of the Hohner Clavinet and smooth soul vocals.

The Housemartins – Happy Hour

Posted: March 5, 2015 by TGASMrDunne in Songs
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The Housemartins were an alternative rock band, featuring some amazing musicians who would shape the British music scene for years to come. Paul Heaton went on to form The Beautiful South, and later member Norman Cook would go on to find fame with Beats International as Fat Boy Slim. Known for their political and religious themes, the Housemartins had an avid following and included a cappella performances regularly in their live gigs, leading to their phenomenally successful cover of ‘Caravan of Love’.