Analytical Frameworks for Post(-Millennial) Punk Episode 1: The “Twinkle” Schema in the Emo Revival - Matthew Chiu and Tyler Howie
Episode 1124th March 2022 • SMT-Pod • Society for Music Theory
00:00:00 00:47:18

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This week's episode is the first of a two part series in which Tyler Howie and Matthew Chiu have a conversation about untangling and complicating generic boundaries in Post Millennial Punk.

This episode was produced by David Thurmaier, with additional technical assistance provided by Kaitlyn Norman.

SMT-Pod Theme music by Zhangcheng Lu; Closing music "hnna" by David Voss. For supplementary materials on this episode and more information on our authors and composers, check out our website: https://smt-pod.org/episodes/season01/.

Transcripts

SMT:

[SMT-Pod theme music playing]

SMT:

Welcome to SMT Pod, the premiere audio publication for the society for music theory. This episode is the first of a two part podcast in which Tyler Howie and Matt Chiu have a conversation about untangling and complicating generic boundaries in Post Millennial Punk.

Matt:

Hi, my name is Matt

Howie:

And I'm Howie

Matt:

And together we are Matt and Howie.

Howie:

It's true. Where do you go to school, Matt?

Matt:

I'm a PhD candidate at the Eastman School of Music. And what about yourself, Howie?

Howie:

I'm not sure if I'm a candidate just yet, I’ve got to check off that prospectus there. But I'm a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin studying music theory.

Matt:

This episode is the first of a two-part series titled: “Analytical Frameworks for Post-Millennial Punk.” This episode is led by Howie, and it focuses on riffs, schemata, and genre in Emo. We'll catch everyone up with Punk History 101 and then hop into some riffs. But first, we also wanted to warn people that many of the songs we play will swear and might include triggering, explicit content.

Howie:

Okay, so today we are going to be talking to you about a certain kind of riff in emo music from the 2010's. It's got a pretty interesting name; it's described as "twinkly", or called the "twinkle riff", stuff like that. And, even Haley Williams of the band Paramore has used the term to describe music by the band "Pool Kids" talking about their about their EP "Music to Practice Safe Sex to", Haley Williams said: "This is what Paramore wished we sounded like in the early 2000's. I love hearing mathy twinkly parts mixed with heavy moments. This kind of music will always be very special to me". So, there you go.

Matt:

Yes, love Haley Williams. That's great. Aptly put.

Howie:

Yeah, perfect. Excellent. And if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for us. So, those are the sorts of riffs we're going to get into later. But before we do that, we're going to run you through punk history 101. Then we're going to run you through emo history 101. Once we're all caught up, we'll move back to those riffs. And so, here we go! Punk history 101. This is going to be extremely brief, so bare with me. But Punk shows up around the 1970s in the US and the UK. You have bands like Ramones here in New York the Sex Pistols over in the UK. It doesn't take very long for major labels to start capitalizing on Punk music. And the first clip we're going to play for you, because most of this music is from the US, emo is from the US it comes out of Hardcore, also from the US. So we're going to stick with the US here. We're going to play a clip by the Ramones. Blitzkrieg Bop came out in 1976.

Music:

[From Ramones, "Blitzkrieg Bop"]

Matt:

It took everything in me not to sing along with the Ay Oh's to start off that song.

Howie:

Yeah, and I got to love that riff at the beginning. It is like THE punk riff there. Okay, so after that stuff in the mid to late 70's, we get stuff like Hardcore punk in the 80's in the US. The clip we have for you today is by Hardcore band Minor Threat. It's called "Out of Step". And, music theorists might know this one from David Easley's article in Music Theory Online about riffs in Hardcore Punk. So here is Minor Threat.

Music:

[From Minor Threat, "Out of Step"]

Matt:

Yeah. A lot more intense.

Howie:

Yeah. What are some differences you heard there, Matt?

Matt:

I mean, definitely a lot louder, a lot noisier, less clear. Vocal timbre is rougher and it feels in my face, and I can't understand all of the words. Not that I could with the Ramones or “Ramones,” I guess.

Howie:

Alright, that catches us up to Emo, believe it or not. So, lets move on to Emo History. Emo's history is generally structured in waves one through, now 5. People posit a fifth wave starting in 2018 or 2020. We're going to stick to the original four for right now. Maybe, in a little bit more time, we'll have a better perspective and we can talk about a fifth wave. But for right now, we're going to talk about the first through fourth waves and, lucky for us, they are each associated with a nice, neat decade category.

Matt:

Clean and cut.

Howie:

Yeah. Super easy. We're starting Emo History with the first wave in the mid 80's, Emotional hardcore. And I's just like to say this is a really interesting thing. Now at the time, bands did not like this label very much. They considered themselves Hardcore bands and a certain group of people, critics, fans, whatever labeled them Emotional Hardcore. Some people say this is due to the lyrics being more inward and personal emotionally. Other people notes dynamic shifts. Like, "Oh, they get softer in this section so they can get louder later". Other people talk about more melodic riffs and stuff. So, people focus on different things for this distinction whether it's lyrics or musical features, dynamics, stuff like that, for differences between Emotional Hardcore and Hardcore. What's interesting form the perspective of genre is that, this is the emergence of Emo as a musical category and David Brackett in his book about genre and 20th century American popular music says that when genres emerge, when categories emerge, there is often conflict about how to define it and sides struggle for discursive authority. So, some of these bands, who considered themselves Hardcore are now being labeled Emotional Hardcore and they push back a little bit. Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat famously said "That's the stupidest fucking thing I've ever heard in my life" presumably because Hardcore is already emotional and what's interesting to us now is that obviously the side coining Emotional Hardcore won that struggle for discursive authority because we now are doing an entire Podcast episode about Emo as a musical genre. So, I'm less concerned with the particular distinctions people draw between Emotional Hardcode bands and Hardcore bands and more interested in just showing you these were the first bands that got considered Emo. And they were called Emotional Hardcore or the much cooler and better term, Emocore which I would like to bring back. If I had the power to single handedly do so, I 100% would.

Matt:

Emocore, oh yes! Heck yes!

Howie:

Emocore! Heck Yes! Alright, so here is a clip of For Want Of by Emotional Hardcore band, Rites of Spring.

Matt:

Or Emocore.

Howie:

Or Emocore, you know!

Music:

[From Rites of Spring, "For Want Of"]

Howie:

Okay, yeah, Matt. What do you hear there?

Matt:

Uh, a lot of different things. I mean, the bass in particular, step-wise motion, as you were saying, like melodious. It's very melodic. Yeah. The vocals are a lot clearer. I can hear the words too, but, yeah, in terms of timbre, the drums have a similar timbre, but a little less noisy.

Howie:

Yeah, definitely. The second wave is associated with he 90's and this is where we drop the Hardcode part of the label and we don't have Emocore or Emotional Hardcore, we just have Emo. This is where Emo starts to settle into it's sound so you have bands like The Promise Ring and Sunny day Real Estate in the second wave and now we're going to play you a clip of The Promise Ring. This song is called “Red & Blue Jeans” from their album Nothing Feels Good that was released in 1997: Nothing Feels Good. Great name for an emo record. And that's why I think Andy Greenwald took it for the title of his book on emo that he published in 2003. It's called Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers, and Emo. And he also says this is the wave after the Emotional Hardcore stuff, where Emo starts to become it's own thing.

Matt:

Teenagers, Punk rock and Emo oh my! ...Sorry.

Howie:

No, you're exactly. Yeah. So let's listen to The Promise Ring and see if you can note some stark differences between this and the stuff that comes before it.

Music:

[From The Promise Ring, "Red & Blue Jeans"]

Howie:

Alright, yeah. Matt, what do you hear there?

Matt:

Wow. Okay. I mean, hard to consider that the same kind of lineage, especially coming out of hardcore. It's so much lighter. It's very clear, you can hear all of the lyrics. It's a lot less like reverb in the mastering as well. It feels right in your face that you can hear all of the lines.

Howie:

Yeah, totally. Right. And that's only about twelve years after the Rites of Spring stuff. You can definitely feel we're onto something different now. The Rights of Spring stuff was definitely closer to the hardcore stuff. And then here we dropped that “Hardcore” at the end of Emotional. And it's just all right. Now we're doing emo. After the second wave we get, you guessed it, the third wave. In the 2000's and this is Emo's mainstream period. This is the wave that most people associate with Emo where Emo is getting played on top 40 radio. You have bands like Fall Out Boy or My Chemical Romance, Panic at the Disco. Emo Historian, Tom Mullen of the Washed out Emo Podcast has called this "Emo's Hair Metal period" as a hint to it's popularity as compared to the other waves. So, we're going to listen to My Chemical Romance. Now, some folks might be disappointed we're not going to do something from Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge but we are going to play Welcome to the Black Parade from their record The Black Parade that came out in 2006. Yeah, let's just listen.

Music:

[from My Chemical Romance, "Welcome to the Black Parade"]

Howie:

Yeah, how do you think this falls in, like, just hearing The Promise Ring and then following it up with My Chemical Romance? What's going on there? What do you hear?

Matt:

Oh, Howie, this is a true encapsulation of what I imagine a Hot Topic to sound like in musical form.

Howie:

Yes!

Matt:

Yeah, I mean, we bring back a little bit more of the energy. I would say it's less melodic than the last wave and a little bit more rough in timbre, I would say.

Howie:

Yeah, definitely. Right. And we get more distortion. Distortion is back. Those power chords, they're back, too. This is the wave most people know about. Dan Ozzi has actually, he's just come out with a cool book called Sellout. He's a music journalist, and it's about in the mid to late nineties following up Nirvana's Nevermind a bunch of Punk and Emo bands get signed to major labels. And his book chronicles a few bands and the process of them signing to a major label. It just came out this year in 2021, came out last month, I think, actually. And there's a chapter on My Chemical Romance about these bands, after Nevermind comes out, the record labels are like, “wait, we can make some money on this indie and punk stuff. Let's sign them.” So that's how you get like Green Day’s "Dookie". That's how you get Jimmy Eat World signed to a major label there. We would never get “The Middle” without Jimmy Eat World getting signed to a record label

Matt:

Taking advantage of the teenage angst!

Howie:

Exactly. Right. And then you get bands like My Chemical Romance. And we would never get bands like Jimmy Eat World or My Chemical Romance on literally Top 40 radio if not for that craze. And that brings us to the fourth wave of the 2010's which is where interestingly enough, is not called the fourth wave, it's called the Emo Revival which is an interesting discursive choice there, right? And it says some things about the genres history. And we're going to get into that a little bit later. But, this is from 2012, this is emo-revival band Glocca Morra. The song is “Irrevocable, Motherfucker.” It came out on their album Just Married in 2012.

Music:

[From Glocca Morra, "Irrevocable, Motherfucker"]

Howie:

Yeah. Matt, now that you've heard all four waves, what's the revival sound like to you?

Matt:

Yeah. How can you not hear “revival” in that from the guitar timbre. It's the guitar timbre. It's this light touch. Yeah. It's definitely a lot lighter than, say, like, My Chemical Romance’s guitar timbre, which was like heavily distorted.

Howie:

Yeah, definitely. Right. And actually what's cool is that we're going to be talking about this wave and this style of riff that you were just mentioning, right? I think the things that set it apart from the My Chemical Romance or Emotional Hardcore stuff are like, well, first, the clean tone like you mentioned. Right. You don't have the distortion on the guitars anymore. Another thing is that these riffs are pretty melodic in that it's not like power chords where you got like two notes (or three if you're doubling the octave). And it's just like single lines. I mean, there were two there in that tune. You had two guitars, but they're each playing a single melodic line. Kind of reminds me of that… you can get that from the Rites of Spring recording with that single line riff. But again, it's distorted. You get that cleaner tone, that lighter touch on the guitar. And that's the kind of riff we're going to be talking about today. This is a style of riff that is common to the emo revival. To be clear, though, not all emo revival bands played these sorts of riffs. It's just like, this did become popular for a good number of bands. So it's enough to call it a style here. Now this sort of riff has a name. It's kind of fun. It's called the “Twinkle.” And I think what lends it its name there, right? It’s partially that clean tone. It gives it a little bit of a sparkle. And the techniques, like the different sorts, the techniques it's played with give you different sorts of onsets, give you different sorts of attacks and it lends a nice character to the riff. First, most important are the slides and pull offs. So those are the main things there. We're going to listen to Glocca Morra one more time and see if you can pay attention to the tone and the techniques that are used in the riff. And his time we have a recording of just the riff being played on guitar. My friend Rachel was kind enough to record a couple riffs for us on extremely short notice so you can hear them without the other instruments. So here is a recording of Glocca Morra, just the riff, just the guitar.

Music:

[From Glocca Morra, Guitar riff]

Howie:

Okay, what could you hear there Matt? Could you hear some of those techniques there?

Matt:

Yes, I could hear it.

Howie:

Perfect. Yeah. So to talk about this style of riff in Emo, I'm going to use a schema theory mostly from the work of Robert Gjerdingen. Gjerdingen's work on Schema theory was developed in the context of the Galant Style of classical music. So, it was not developed for popular music nor was it developed for things with guitar but, I adjusted some things so we can analyze this stuff fruitfully because these riffs are apart of the style of Emo and I think schema theory is useful here. One thing I do use in my schema theory is I draw on Frank Lehman's use of an attribute inventory in his MTO article on cadences in Hollywood music. He has an attribute inventory of pitched and unpitched attributes and this way, he can talk about the cadences with a little bit more nuance instead of saying "it must have this, this, and this". He can say "oh, it's got these certain attributes, they're all in my inventory" so I can still talk about them here. My attribute inventory is slightly different from Lehman's. It is not just pitched and unpitched attributes. It's got things like timbre and performance techniques and formal placement. I designed it in such a way that you can map riffs onto my attribute inventory to see how typical or atypical they are. I have a list of parameters for the schema in relative order of importance, right. So I start with the tone. It's usually almost always that clean tone. right, that's part of what makes the twinkle, the twinkle. The slides...

Music:

[Guitar Slide Example]

Howie:

and pull offs...

Music:

[Guitar Pull Off Example]

Howie:

are essential to the sound as well. And, so another characteristic I have of the twinkle is that short, short, long rhythm. Did you end up catching that in the Glocca riff? [Matt and Howie sing] Yeah, right, exactly. So that's a big one. And I think that might actually be part of the pull off thing, because a pull off is not going to be as strong of an onset as picking a note with a pick or, like, plucking it with your fingers. And so if you make it a shorter rhythmic value, it's less noticeable that it's not as strong of an onset there. But we also have a couple of other main attributes, right. First, it's formal placement. It's usually like we just heard in the Glocca Morra example at the beginning of a song, and often it is in a pretty thin texture. The Glocca Morra example is good because it's just the guitar at the very beginning. We're going to hear a couple of examples that have guitar and drums or two guitars or something. But that big part of that thin texture there. And a couple of things here just real quick. Another part of this is the tuning scheme that people use to play these riffs. Now this is not as perceptual as the other stuff. You can't really hear a tuning scheme, but I'm going to play it on guitar.

Music:

[Guitar Tuning Scheme Example]

Howie:

But the tuning. Right. They're usually like these open chords, like a 7th or a 9th chord, and they make it so that the open strings are consonant in a way that they aren't if you just use standard tuning with the fourths all the way up, like EADG stuff. And so it makes it so when you do a pull off or like a slide to a pull off to an open string, it's more likely to be consonant. And so it facilitates a lot of this stuff. It makes it easier to sound good. And another main feature of the tone here that I don't have in my inventory is that often this stuff is run through a compression pedal. I've already talked about how there are different sorts of onsets here. You have some notes with a picked with a pick or plucked with the fingers. And, if you're a right-handed guitarist, with the right hand by the pickups and stuff. And then other notes are gotten to by slides in the left hand, sliding from one note to another or pulling off from a string or hammering on, which is just the opposite of a pull off. You like, sound a string and then you put a finger down to make a new note sound.

Music:

[Guitar Hammer on Example]

Howie:

And so all of these have slightly different sorts of attacks. And so the slides and the pull offs and the hammer on's are going to be slightly softer than the picked or plucked notes. And so a lot of times people run this sort of riff through a compression pedal, and all that does is raise the floor and lower the ceiling. So your softer attacks, like the pull offs and the slides are going to be not so soft. And the louder attacks, like the picked or plucked notes, are not going to be so loud, they get a little bit softer and then that brings all of those attacks closer to a more equal volume. And then you can hear this stuff a lot more clearly. And actually, for all the riffs Racheal recorded for us, on all of those, she did use compression. I did double check with her. So, there you go, there you have it! Okay. Now that we know all of the attributes, why don't we take one more listen back to Glocca Morra and see if we can hear all of that stuff.

Music:

[From Glocca Morra, "Irrevocable, Motherfucker"]

Howie:

Okay, so, Matt, What could you hear there? Could you hear any of the stuff we were talking about?

Matt:

Yeah. I mean, it's at the very incipit of the piece. So we start off with the schema. It's twinkly. We have the short, short, long, all of the notes sounding within a relatively small range. So that's probably the compression pedal in terms of amplitude. It also explores a melodic range, and I think it's kind of wider than most melodies that we associate… But. Yeah, I would say very twinkly.

Howie:

Yeah, right. And you get like, it's in that thin texture, just the guitar, like you said, it's at the very beginning, and you get that clean tone for all of that stuff. Also, nice use of amplitude there. That was clutch. Yeah, so I'm just using this podcast to make everybody listen to Glocca Morra, because Just Married is a great record. But let's move on from Glocca Morra. Let's play another example. It's going to be pretty important for us going forward. This is going to be the song “Never Meant” by American Football, and this one is going to play an interesting role here. So we'll have to remember this one. But let's take a listen. I won't talk too much about it.

Music:

[From American Football, "Never Meant"]

Howie:

Okay. So that's “Never Meant” by American Football. Probably one of the most famous emo riffs. So it's going to be important for us later. But for right now, I'll just say that it is a prototypical example and actually even more prototypical than that Glocca Morra one. Generally, like I said, it's presented in a thin texture. Often that texture is one or two instruments and not just like solo, there's one or two other companying things there. So there we had drums and the guitar playing the twinkle riff. And that's more common than the other stuff, so that's a prototypical example. It's got everything. We got clean tone, short, short, long.

Music:

[Guitar Short, Short, Long Example]

Howie:

We got formal placement, the beginning of the tune, placement in a thin texture, just drums and guitar. And it is in an alternate tuning. I know you can't hear that, but that's what facilitates that motion there. That's all I'll say about it for right now, let's listen to a few more clips in quick succession. They're all going to be slightly different. This first one is “Death by Red Eye” by Charmer. It came out in 2018 on Charmer's first LP, and it's self-titled. So let's take a listen.

Music:

[From Charmer, "Death by Red Eye”]

Howie:

What could you hear there? Any stuff we've been talking about?

Matt:

Oh, yeah. Slides, very twinkly, light. Yeah. I don't know what to say, it has the attributes.

Howie:

Yup!. It's got all of them in that inventory, it's got them. And it's also same sort of texture as the American Football one. Right. Drums and guitar. Now. Okay, here our next example is by Macseal. This is off their second EP called Yeah, No, I Know. And the song is called “Twilight Funzone.”

Music:

[From Macseal, “Twilight Funzone”]

Howie:

All right. Matt, once again, what could you hear?

Matt:

This is a good routine we have going. Yeah, I could I mean, a little different that we have two guitars going at once, but otherwise it starts off the song very light and clear, melodic.

Howie:

Right, yeah. So that one all the same stuff. It's just instead of drums and guitar, it is just two guitars, but still thin texture. One other instrument, you get all the other stuff. Now, interestingly enough, like you said, you can't hear the tuning. And so not all of the twinkle stuff uses an alternate tuning. This one is actually in standard tuning down a half step. So there's an example of the twinkle in standard tuning. And I think it's the only one in this whole presentation. So there you go. It can happen. Let's listen to one more example, slightly less prototypical. This is by Retirement Party. Now, it should be said this is off of Retirement Party's first EP. And after this Retirement Party, I don't think they have a single other song with the twinkle schema in it. They settle more into like they rock. You know what I mean? They're a little more like rock and roll, but they still released this one, so we're going to use it for the twinkle schema here. Let's check it out. This one came out, I think also in 2017, it's called “Meet Me in Montauk” by Retirement Party.

Music:

[From Retirement Party, “Meet Me in Montauk”]

Howie:

Perfect. Matthew, it's time to play! Could you hear it?

Matt:

[Matt sings] Yeah. I mean, not at the start of the song. And it comes in in the middle of the texture, but when it comes in, you can hear it.

Howie:

Right? Exactly. So here we get the song kicked off and you get vocals and rhythm guitar. And then eventually you get the lead guitar kicking in with that twinkle there. But still pretty much the beginning of the song. There we go. Those are some examples of the twinkle schema. They're pretty prototypical. So now let's return back to the American Football song. The first tune we played after Glocca Morra, “Never Meant” by American Football. So, let's listen again, we have another clip from Rachel, of just the riff to refresh everyone's memory. Here we go!

Music:

[From American Football, guitar riff]

Howie:

Now what's interesting, right? We said the Charmer tune came out in 2018, Macseal, 2017. I think Retirement Party is 2016 or 17 on that one. And we said Glocca Morra was 2012, all 2010s. Wow. They all fit that nice decade category for the Emo revival. And the American Football tune, “Never Meant”, that one actually came out in 1999. So there's a big gap here. Yeah. Kind of interesting. But would you agree that these riffs sound like the “Never Meant” riff? Like they all fit together?

Matt:

Oh, yeah.

Howie:

Okay.

Matt:

Very twinkly. Have your attributes.

Howie:

“Never Meant” actually comes out in 1999, so it's way separate. Like you said, it sounds like the other examples. It's got all the attributes. Another interesting thing about American Football is that LP came out, LP 1, and then they broke up a couple of years later. But then they came back and released another album and they actually put out two more starting in 2014. So, interesting, they come back with the emo revival. Here, I'd like to cite an article by music journalist here, Ian Cohen along with David Anthony, Nina Corcoran, Emma Garland, and Brad Nelson. It came out in February of 2020 on Vulture.com. It's called “100 Greatest Emo Songs of all time: A Sweeping Look at Rock's Most Misunderstood Genre”. It gives a nice rundown of Emo history, in the beginning, if anybody's interested in some of that stuff. But, importantly for us, it ranks “Never Meant” at the top of it's list. The greatest Emo song of all time. Which if you're coming to emo from the standpoint of My Chemical Romance, you might be surprised. You'd be like, “come on, ‘Welcome to the Black Parade,’ that should be up there. Right?” And Cohen, for his credit, says, look, “’Never Meant’ wouldn't have topped this list 15, 10 or even five years ago.” Right? And he's writing this in 2020. So in 2015, this wouldn't have even topped this list. But now it certainly does. And “Never Meant” and American Football have almost come to stand in for the genre. He says that “the importance of American Football cannot be overstated.” And I would agree. And this is reflected in all sorts of memes, right? Especially about “Never Meant,” the song. That one becomes the most popular. I don't know, maybe because it's the first song on the record, but it becomes the most popular. There are memes about the riff. Like the tabs for the riff are a meme that get posted around on like, forums and stuff. You also have all sorts of funny arrangements of “Never Meant.” Like “’Never Meant,’ but it's eight-bit” “’Never Meant,’ but it's a hurdy-gurdy cover” “’Never Meant,’ but it's on banjo” and stuff, right. Have you heard any weird “Never Meant” covers?

Matt:

I like the eight-bit one. That's probably my favorite.

Howie:

The eight-bit one is very good. I do like the eight-bit one, but the real heads, like the 16-bit one, so get on it.

Matt:

Gross, boo!

Howie:

But it becomes a meme to cover the riff in different stuff. Even the album art for that LP, the album art is like an off-center house with a green filter on it, that becomes a meme. Like people posting The Simpsons house with like a green tint and it says “The Simpsons” in the same way the format of “American Football” is in the album cover. But it also becomes a thing emo bands do, like that Charmer record. The Charmer, self-titled 2018, has a picture of a house on the cover. People have made jokes about like, “oh, I love house music.” right, and it's emo bands.

Matt:

Yeah. I've seen a bunch of people post on the emo Reddit with tattoos of this house and album.

Howie:

Yeah.

Matt:

Very meme worthy.

Howie:

There's lots of pictures of people kneeling outside the house, like taking a pilgrimage to the American Football house.

Matt:

Yeah.

Howie:

So, I want to talk about "Never Meant" as not only an exemplar of the Twinkle Schema but also as a prototype for the Twinkle Schema. So, to talk about the Twinkle Schema, as a prototype, I'm going to quote Robert Gjerdingen talking about prototypes in his book, Music in the Galant Style. So, Gjerdingen presents his prototypes in a more abstract way than in western notation because he says quote "standard music notation over specifies a prototypes constituent features". So, here's a quote about one of his schemata, the romanesca. He says: "The Schema Romanesca, that is a mental representation of a category of Galant musical utterances is likely in no particular key, may or may not have a particular meter, probably includes no particular figurations of articulations, may be quite general as to the spacing of voices and so on. All that useful indeterminacy would vanish were the schema to be presented as a small chorale in whole notes, probably in the key of C major with a 4/4 meter. To avoid that kind of false specificity, I will represent schema prototypes in a more abstract form". I've references that I represent the Twinkle Schema prototype abstractly as well in the form of my attribute inventory, but I would now like to talk about a particular prototype. We've already talked about how "Never Meant" is very well known in the community, it's basically a meme. You have 8-bit covers and the hurdy-gurdy stuff and there's all different kinds of covers of "Never Meant". And I've cited Ian Cohen who says that the song has pretty much become a stand in for the genre, at this point. Basically, this means that if you ask someone to think of a Twinkly riff, like a Twinkle Riff from Emo, they might pull out different exemplars, some of which we played earlier. So, maybe someone will bring up MacSeal or someone will bring up Glocca Morra, or someone will bring up whatever band. But, anybody aware of those other exemplars is probably also aware of "Never Meant", what do you think?

Matt:

Yeah, I mean I absolutely agree. I think it speaks a lot that yesterday I was on the r/Emo reddit, and I saw a post that said "The Riff" and I knew what it was before viewing the video; that someone covering the "Never Meant" riff. It's really kind of the cultural equivalent of the "jazz lick" as people call it. [Matt and Howie sing the lick] Yeah, exactly.

Howie:

Yeah, it's basically the lick. So even if people think of different exemplars, if they are aware of this style of Emo, they are probably also aware of "Never Meant", even if one listener might be aware of Glocca Morra and another one might not be, they probably share "Never Meant" as an exemplar in common. So, to return to the Gjerdingen quote, where he says the mental representation of a category of, in our case, Emo Riffs, right, may or may not be in a particular key, but probably does include particular figurations or articulations and probably is not quite general as to the spacing of voices, their timbres, and so on. This is because for a lot of listeners, the Twinkle Schema is "Never Meant". That is the mental representation. And of course, their are other exemplars that might be described as prototypical which is why my attribute inventory is more general. but, most listeners are aware of "Never Meant". Eric Drott in his article, The End(s) of Genre, lays out a conception of genre that is constantly shifting and changing; it's dynamic. And the things that gain traction or appear stable for a given genre are just the things that enough people have agreed upon enough times. Does that make sense? So genres are constantly shifting and changing, but some things appear more stable than others. Whether those are sonic associations, like this sort of twinkling riff in this style of Emo, or whether they're ways of thinking about a genre's history. Like, perhaps thinking about a genre's history in waves, like with Emo. And the reason these things appear stable in some ways, is because enough people have agreed on that enough times. Enough people have agreed on the importance of "Never Meant" enough times whether that agreement comes in the form of a genuine article saying that it's become a stand in for the genre or whether that agreement comes from a very funny cover of the riff. So, in Eric Drott's words. "Never Meant" 's status has been constantly enacted and reenacted. It's been repeatedly recognized and taken up. So, enough people have agreed enough times that "Never Meant" is culturally significant in this genre. What I'm trying to say is since "Never Meant" 's status has been constantly enacted and reenacted, repeatedly recognized and taken up, it means that this for historical moment, for this genre, it the fused the function of exemplar and prototype. In my dissertation, I explore the relationships between schemata, exemplars, prototypes, all of that good stuff and genre in greater detail, but to tie all of this together with "Never Meant", I have one more example. Because this is a Podcast, I can't show you a visual meme, but I can play you an audio one. So, this example is a little bit longer that the other ones because it is less prototypical, the Twinkle Schema comes in the middle of the form, so it's not as clear cut as the others. Matt and I are going to play you out today with a clip from Texas Emo band, Select a Bonus. Before we do, Matt, just want to say, thanks for talking with me about Emo, it's always the best time.

Matt:

Howie, you know it's always my pleasure

Howie:

Here it is, "Athletic Jorts" by Texas Emo Band, Select a Bonus.

Music:

[From Select a Bonus, "Athletic Jorts"]

Matt:

We'd like to thank the SMT editorial editorial board, especially Megan Lyons and Jenny Beavers. And we'd also like to thank the outside reviewer, Dave Easley, who's insightful comments really contributed to the project.

Howie:

We'd also like to thank my friend Rachel, who recorded two of the riffs you heard today so that you could hear them without all of the other instruments going on. And, Matt and I, would like to thank our friend Jeff, who has spent hours talking to both of us about Emo. So, thanks!

Matt:

Thanks, Jeff!

Music:

[From Select a Bonus, "Athletic Jorts"]

SMT:

Visit our website for supplemental materials related to this episode. And join in on the conversation by tweeting us your questions and comments @SMT_Pod. SMT Pod's theme music was written by Zhangcheng Lu with closing music by David Voss. Thanks for listening!

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