GEAR TALK TUESDAY: Radiohead's Musical Arsenal
    • TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 2017

    • Posted by: Peter Hammel

    This week, we're throwin' a little theory into our Gear Talk Tuesday. Vox recently released this video that points out Radiohead's hidden convoluted rhythm in their In Rainbows closing track, "Videotape".

    Aside from a ten minute over analysis of something that can be explained in sixty seconds and the video's cute visuals (my god it looks so good), "Videotape" seems like the first Radiohead standard that supremely challenged their chops, or at least Thom Yorke's. The band executed such a syncopated rhythm to test and disorient listeners' ears, but likely to test their own skills as well.

    It's evident that Radiohead has always tried to push themselves in-the-moment for their performance and songwriting abilities. OK Computer shattered the norm for song structure, blatantly so in "Paranoid Android" and subtly built up in "No Surprises". Kid A further demonstrated their growing talent through a heavy change in instrumentation and the album's opening seconds. "Everything In Its Right Place" counts in at an odd ten beats per measure. "Idiotique"'s phrases (though in 4/4) last five measures as opposed to an even multiple of two. This complexity continues throughout their discography. Radiohead's musical explorations seem to go on forever, and I too could go on forever analyzing them.

    The "secret rhythm" in "Videotape" is just as sneaky as the other tricks in Radiohead's musical arsenal -- it just happened to publicly stump Thom Yorke. I think some musicians are more inclined to laying down an odd time signature, shredding in a distinct musical mode, or nailing syncopated rhythms. That being said, if you google and take a gander at the available sheet music for "Videotape", you'll notice the chords are transcribed on the simple downbeats unlike Radiohead's recording of the same track. Apparently, Thom wasn't the only one to struggle with this track.

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