Saturday, 30 January 2016

a hook in time: Maria Lionza

In this first of a series (I hope), I will look at
how musicians find a sound, a tune, a riff
a hook!
& take it somewhere else. 

I guess that being on the quiet side has meant
that I have spent more time carefully studying
music. I like technical aspects of music, but
I find the money business tiring.

I'm interested in how artists are affected by
the music they love. Sometimes, borrowing is
indirect or unintentional. Other times, artists
might like a sound so much, they want to
add their own flare to it.

1 the Original
It started as a Latino song
by Ruben Blades, called
It was a slower than mid-tempo song which
came alive with a horn intro (0:35) that was
really quite cool, but you had to have
your antennae up to catch it's coolness.
A hook is born.

This video is from 1979 in Venezuela. I'd heard
of Blades, but was too young to appreciate. I
have since appreciated Latino tunes greatly,
especially Salsa. I would nevertheless, never
have spent time on this song. How wrong I

The weird thing is that the horn bit is
never heard again. Odd. In English music,
they bang away at the hook mercilessly.

Tune: Lionza instrumental riff
part of song: intro
Artist: Ruben Blades & his hot horns
Musical source: Latin America
Sound source: real horns!(plus clapping)
Speed: slow
Musical style: Salsa 
song writer: Willy Colon , Ruben Blades

2 First transmutation
The next step was in 2011 by Flexican, a Dutch DJ.
He included the spliced riff into the
mid-tempo Latino-type moombahton rap song,
with Typhoon rapping in Dutch.

Song: Bumaye
Tune: Lionza riff
part of song: chorus
Artist: Flexican with Typhoon
Additions: new tune, rap, title
Musical source: Holland
Sound source: spliced sample
Speed: mid-tempo
Musical style: Moombahton

3 ultimate transmutation (2013)
The final piece of the puzzle was to give it
a Jamaican dancehall beat and a Jamaican English
patois toast.
It is quite impressive to match a Latino riff
with dancehall. I believe that such cross-pollinations
are at once rife with potential for great music
and also can generate entire new sound trends.
A salsa riff seems to underlie the dancehall
beat in many parts of the song. It's quite a mind-blower.
Other times, the salsa sound dominates. That's a new genre.

The video here is very colourful,
and maybe a bit much. The scene appears to be
Kingston Jamaica, with Canadian DJ Diplo being
the square peg.
Great dance moves, style and coolness abound.

The singer, Busy Signal,
refers to the Yardies (gangs)
and his friend named a-Yannis,
which to him, seem to rhyme.

watch out for the riff as the tune builds up
to an ecstatic Lionza chorus several times.
That's banging away at the hook!

The hook is even used in a couple
 of bridges, it's that good (like at 1:43),
but instead of over-use, it is just a well-crafted tune.

As judged by Youtube (1.7 million views) it
was nowhere near as popular as "Lean on" (1.1 billion),
with the gal of the yeast dance (several entries ago).

The song went platinum in Belgium & France and
gold in Italy. It never went number 1, but hit
#2 in Belgium, and was #28 on Billboard's
hot dance chart (US).

Verdict: this is the best version yet because
it sped up the tune, released it from the
heavy beat of the previous rap song,
perhaps due to the dancehall influence,
and it is euphoric.

Song: Watch out for this
Tune: Lionza riff (+clapping)
part of song: chorus
Artist: Major Lazer with Busy Signal
Additions: new tune, toasting (and lyrics), bassline
Musical source: Jamaica by way of Canada?
Sound source: spliced sample
Speed: up-tempo dance
New musical genre: Jamaican dancehall/ salsa mix
Producer: Flexican (the guy who wrote the previous one)

4 the mashing of Maria Lionza
Bang La Decks vs. Major Lazer - Watch Out For Zouka (Billy S Mashup)
I usually find mashing to be a great art
form. A DJ finds a way to meld 2 songs
with some artistry. In the following case,
it's just a cold cut between songs, but the
video is a booty-check.

5 the Latino reggaeton rap- Daddy Yankee
It's a rap with some mixing changes. It takes
advantage of the fact that the underlying tune
is essentially salsa. I don't really have
time for this version. See for yourself.

6 The Siberian aerobics dance number
Major Lazer - "Watch out for this" dance super video by DHQ Fraules

Whoever Maria Lionza was, she certainly
motivated a lot of musical cheer.