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The balance between instrumental and vocal length

Discussion in 'Commentary Discussion' started by Forostar, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again


    Lately I was thinking about how instrumental the Maiden studio albums are. Or if you turn it around: how big are the portion that contains vocals? To properly "research" this I want to zoom in on the songs themselves.

    Even though it's a huge task (although there's no hurry) I'd like to measure this. In the end I hope to make some nice lists out of this information.

    "Why the hell are you doing this", I hear you thinking?
    Well, first of all I am interested in it myself. E.g. I wonder how instrumental Powerslave is compared to other records. I've got an idea that this album does contain a lot, if not the most music without vocals (or relatively seen: it has the least vocals). Measuring this will help me to find out about this.

    I am not measuring short parts without vocals in between couplets or sentences, that are part of the same chord progression/couplets or other sections on which the vocals are, as instrumental sections: all that is part of the vocal sections: example --> everything in Prowler from the first "Walking" until "feel like walking arouhouhooounnd ooow" is regarded as one big vocal section. On the other hand, I am counting "OK"s or "whohoohoo"s or "yeah"s (however short) as vocal portions, even if they are embedded in largely instrumental sections. The main thing is too distinguish vocals from non-vocal sections, and this sounds to me as the most logical but also most practical way.

    Also I wonder if there could be any relation with taste. Of course, taste is about many other aspects, but who knows quantity can have to do with it as well.

    E.g., would people who especially care for vocals (and emotion and lyrics behind vocals) mostly prefer Hallowed over Rime?
    And would people who especially care for instrumental music prefer Rime over Hallowed?
    And how would an opinion change if a large instrumental chunk in Rime was cut off?
    And: what if Hallowed would have a much longer instrumental section? Perhaps the "instrumentalists" would love it, but the "vocalists" not.

    These are just assumptions, but once in a while I just really like to delve into such matters.

    These questions aside, bare with me because I'm going to write the "vocals/instrumental portions in relation to total length"-info on the Commentary fora.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  2. MrKnickerbocker

    MrKnickerbocker clap hands

    Um...good luck, ya crazy bastard!

    Seriously, sounds very interesting and I'll be intrigued by your results. I'll look for 'em in 2016 :)
  3. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Hehe! Thanks, I'll try to have something done around that time. :)
  4. SixesAlltheway

    SixesAlltheway Yacht Rock

  5. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    I've wondered about this myself actually. Looking forward to what results you come up with!

    I remember in the weeks leading up to the release of TFF, some pictures of the lyric booklet leaked and we got to see the lyrics. My first impression was that there were a lot of words. And as it turned out, TFF was a pretty wordy album. There were a lot of songs like Starblind or Wild Wind that didn't have many repeated lyrics but lots of vocal lines. On top of that, there were only a few songs that had the signature Maiden "repeat a phrase for the chorus". However, there are also a few extended instrumental parts, like in El Dorado or Isle of Avalon. It's still a pretty vocal driven album, but I wonder if it balances itself out.
  6. Dityn DJ James

    Dityn DJ James A coma stole my name.

    Yeah looking back, The Final Frontier is one of the longest heavy metal albums I've ever heard.
  7. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    From the debut: which song has in absolute terms the most instrumental music?
  8. Perun

    Perun Climbing like a monkey Staff Member

    Phantom, I would think.
  9. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    The instrumental Transylvania?

    The instrumental section in Phantom I'd judge to begin with Dave's first lead (~02:45). The section just before that (~02:05), although starting with no vocals, is, in my opinion (& going by Foro's criteria), a vocal section. Still, that instrumental section is going on (but not quite) four minutes (~02:45 - ~06:35); so pretty close to the length of Transylvania.

    Or were you excluding actual instrumentals?
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  10. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Correct Perun! Phantom is, in absolute length, indeed more instrumental than Transylvania. The difference is a bit more than a minute.

    I don't think I am first categorizing in vocal and instrumental sections the way you are doing this Cried.
    E.g. the first 20 seconds in Phantom are instrumental.

    I've counted these as "vocal portions" in Phantom:
    0:20 - 0:21
    0:57 - 1:58
    2:16 - 2:40
    6:35 - 7:18
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  11. Perun

    Perun Climbing like a monkey Staff Member

    What about the 'ah' at 6:03?
    Dr. Eddies Wingman likes this.
  12. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    Ah, I kinda forgot you weren't really meaning continous sections. So, yeh, if you add all of Phantom's sections up, then it has more instrument than vocal. However there's no need, surely, to be counting one tiny vocal section at the beginning of Phantom? The first minute is basically intrumental (vocal section starts at ~00:58).
    The whole first minute, as I said, is instrumental. Surely?
    This is splitting hairs. I think you should view sections more broadly as being dominated by vocals, or being purely instrumental.
    If you don't, you'll miss stuff like the above.
  13. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Sorry Cried I am doing this more precise and perfect, in a way, that I really want to separate vocals and non-vocals more than you. You are more busy with the song structure, the music underneath (and pay less attention to what happens on top; or don't mind how much "vocal time" is on top) in a stricter sense, I am more busy with the vocals in a stricter sense. As I said, I am rather going for parts where someone starts singing, to be precise: then I start measuring on that part, and not earlier. The first 20 seconds in Phantom don't have vocals, it isn't that illogical nor difficult.
    Must have missed it. I have just put my CD away but thanks for the tip! I'll take another listen.

    @Perun I don't have that "ah" on my CD, honestly. Weird. Or are you kidding here? :)

    edit 2: Ah, wait, you mean around 2:03 (starts at 2:02 on my CD). :ok:
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  14. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    I'm not more busy with it, I just think it makes more sense. However, if you want to split hairs over vocal elements that last one second, then be my guest! :p
    I know the first twenty seconds have no vocals; did I say otherwise? However, bar one tiny vocal element (one second by your reckoning), the rest of the first minute doesn't have vocals either. Dividing the first 58 seconds of Phantom into - 20 seconds of instrumental, 1 seconds of vocals, then another 37 seconds of instrumental (or whatever) - is, to me, absurd. I don't really see the point (or what possible conclusions you might derive) from subjecting a track to this kind of subdivision. To my mind, it would be far more sensible to view the first 58 seconds (in this example) as instrumental, with no vocals. The problem with not doing this should be self evident: you're going to miss the odd growl or "yeh" or "ah" or whatever. Why does this matter? You tell me...
    I'm essentially questioning the logic of the second part of your opening post. Why is counting these necessary?

    I just don't see the purpose in this "precise and perfect" method you're employing here, Foro.
  15. Perun

    Perun Climbing like a monkey Staff Member

    No, I don't. It's towards the end of the instrumental section, very quiet but there. Listen closely.

    Edit: It is at the exact moment the harmonies end in the instrumental section. It seems to have a different volume on the individual masters, but it's always very quiet. At least that's what I hear.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  16. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Interesting. I checked 2 different CD's but didn't hear it. Will try again later.
  17. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    Yip, Perun's correct: it's bang-on 06:00 on my 1998 remaster. I heard it the first time I listened, but obviously (by my method) ignored it! :p
  18. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I have that remaster. Will make an attempt later this week.
  19. CriedWhenBrucieLeft

    CriedWhenBrucieLeft Ancient Mariner

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2015
  20. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I heard that vocal @Perun ! Had to put on headphones to hear it well. :)

    First album is done: link

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