October 24, 2013
Posted by: Lauralie Ezra
When it comes to electronic music, it’s all about layers. Daft Punk knows this well. In Beethoven’s time, he would have called this orchestration. The concept is simple: you take a basic melody, or a theme, and toss it around to different instruments like clubbers swatting a beach ball above the dance floor on a Friday night. Master composers like Mozart would take folk melodies, the songs sung by common folks in the taverns, and orchestrate them. Suddenly the simple tunes sound grandiose.
“Get Lucky” is a good example of this. The music itself is very basic. The song uses four chords, and they happen to be the four most common chords in pop music. They’re the same chords used in Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.” Daft Punk does some layering: first with a toe-tapping percussion and bass forming one meaty layer at the bottom. Then funky guitar riffing and mellow keyboard pads provide for a softer middle layer. Finally, adding some irresistible catchy vocal hooks on top, you’ve got sweet icing on the cake. Daft Punk adds their various twists and turns of digitizing and granulating sounds through remixes, and this adds extra layers of sonic delight to the dessert.
It’s a simple formula really, but it’s the bedrock of electronic music. It doesn’t matter how simple or repetitive the musical structure is. You don’t need a dozen chords or complex counterpoint in the melody — though both would be very cool in the hands of a skilled artist. All you really need is some good layering and some “lucky”.