Dj Shadow Song Analysis Essay Example
Dj Shadow Song Analysis Essay Example

Dj Shadow Song Analysis Essay Example

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  • Pages: 4 (880 words)
  • Published: December 7, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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Elements of Music Project The two songs I am analyzing are by the same artist. The artist is DJ Shadow and the songs are entitled “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” and “Midnight in a Perfect World. ” These songs are from his first album “Endtroducing…,” which was written in 1996.

Shadow’s music has been classified into a few different types of genres; trip-hop being the most prominent. What makes his first album so different is that it is composed entirely of samples. Shadow spent years and years “digging” and listening to thousands of old records to piece together his first album.He listened to each record with and open-mind; waiting for something to spark creativity. In 2001 “Endtroducing…” was published in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “First Completel


y Sampled Album. ” The only pieces of equipment that were used to produce this album included a 12-bit sampling drum machine and a pair of turntables.

I have seen Shadow perform live a handful of times. His shows take place anywhere from small night clubs, to stadium style concerts. The first song I am analyzing, “Building Steam With a Grain of Salt,” is the second track on “Endtroducing... .

The introduction of the song starts with a man’s voice saying “producing…” The song then jumps to a few twinkling of simple, high-octave piano notes played continuously with the plucking of a few lower octave notes to accompany it and set the rhythm of the song. There is a strong, hypnotizing drum beat that enters the song. The beat is at a slower tempo. It is very similar to a hip-hop style beat.

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Then what sounds like a choir singing starts, which sets the mood for the rest of the song.

The whole song has a smooth, calming melody.The darkened, whimsical melody of the piano along with scratching of records, funky guitar riffs, xylophones, and scattered drum beats make up the rich texture of the song. The song, being mainly instrumental, has the constant melody of the piano, steady rhythm of the drums, and layer upon layer of sampled instruments and sound clips. All of these elements make the dynamics of the song very deep and diverse. Towards the end of the song the drum beat stops.

The piano continues to play, and a sound clip of a man’s voice comes in.He says “And I would like to be able to continue to let what is inside of me which is, which comes from all the music that I hear. I would like for that to come out; and it’s not really me that’s coming, the music’s coming through me. The music’s coming through me. ” The ending of this song is really moving to me.

I believe is sums up everything that Shadow is attempting to do with the rest of the album. The second song I am analyzing is “Midnight in a Perfect World. ” The song starts with a man saying “In-sight, fore-sight, more-sight.The clock on the wall reads a quarter past midnight. ” An ambient synthesizer then chimes in with a few soft chords accompanied with a female voice singing “ahh ohh…” This song, which is similar to the first song I analyzed, is kept in motion by a deep hip-hop drum beat.


tempo is slow and relaxing. The song’s dynamics are soft and seductive. The texture is thick with the piano, synthesizer, jazzy guitar riffs, and a ghost-like voice. The song builds up slowly, but never reaches a crescendo.Instead, Shadow ends the song with a few mixed up words and then the phrase “Now approaching midnight…” This song is so moving to me.

In hind-sight, I started to realize the significance of some of the lyrics. The last verse being “Now approaching midnight…” means that midnight in a perfect world can never been fully reached. You’re always going to be “digging. ” The entire album seems to have a common theme: mortality. Many of the samples used in “Endtroducing…” were from “dead” or “lost” artists. Shadow brings them back to life by arranging them in to this innovative, modern-day masterpiece.

The samples for the album are taken from forgotten horror-film scores, long-dead jazz records, and ancient funk; all set in motion with a deep hip-hop beat. I think Shadow is different from other DJs because his music showcases these tracks and puts new light on an otherwise forgotten piece of music. I identify with his music because of my love for all music, art, and talent. This album was built entirely out of the love for music. It was made to preserve those artists who otherwise would not get the acknowledgement that they deserve.I think this album shows that there is talent in sampling music.

Many people view sampling as theft. Shadow’s work buries that argument. Music is art, and art is an expression. Shadow’s technique to express his love and respect for all artists may not have

been done in the conventional way, with instruments and written lyrics; but instead with years of “digging” through forgotten music to find and share with others these musical treasures. These treasures being the artists that paved the way for the music we know and love today.

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