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Burzum compositional style

Burzum compositional style
June 03, 2011, 10:19:22 PM
Just listening to Det Som Engang Var again, and it's amazing just how often that 0 3 2 "riff" comes up.  Tracks two, three, four, and seven have that motif (either in E or C), often for minutes at a time, while "riffs" are played on top of it which compliment it and lead on from one another.  I'm not sure whether this was intentional, or whether he simply wrote a lot of riffs which followed that 0 3 2 pattern.  Either way, it's an interesting aspect of the music, and lends to the hypnotic quality of DSEV.  Any thoughts on this?  Any similar occurrences elsewhere in the Metal universe?

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 03, 2011, 11:45:33 PM
I'm not sure what you mean by 0 3 2. Are you referring to fret numbers?

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 04, 2011, 12:25:56 AM
Haha, yes, I suppose I am.  I meant to write 1 4 3 (tonic, subdominant, mediant), but was playing it on my guitar at the time and probably just thought "what am I playing?  0 3 2, alright, I'll type that".

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 04, 2011, 12:49:51 AM
I thought you were just making a super obscure joke, because " 0 3 2" is the opening riff of Chainsaw Gutsfuck.

But to be anal, I think what you really mean is "1 3 4". That would correspond with Lost Wisdom and En Ring Til A Herske at least.

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 04, 2011, 12:57:02 AM
Listen carefully to the tracks I mentioned (Key to the Gate, En ring til aa herske, Lost Wisdom, and Snu mikrokosmos tegn) - the 1 4 3 turns up in each of them, in E or C, as I mentioned.  Lost Wisdom has it at 2:50, En ring til aa herske has it from 2:28 to 3:17 and from 5:53 onwards.  Generally, it seems to be a "culmination" motif, as Key to the Gate, En ring til aa herske, and Lost Wisdom have it either at/towards the end or under solos.

Edit: holy shit, it is the opening riff of Chainsaw Gutsfuck.  Subtle/subconscious tip of the hat to Mayhem, perhaps...

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 04, 2011, 09:14:04 PM
Chainsaw Gutsfuck uses the motif in a completely different way though. Considering the composition is in F# not E Minor.

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 04, 2011, 09:55:23 PM
To that effect, it's a completely different motif.  I was looking at other Burzum songs, and 1 4 3 comes up in My Journey to the Stars, Black Spell of Destruction, Erblicket Die Töchter Des Firmaments, and Dunkelheit, in various guises/under various uses.

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 10, 2011, 10:12:05 PM
Interesting. So where does this motif originate from anyway? does it come from his influences or can it be found in an earlier music altogether?

Also for anyone in the know, what is the style of crushing "eerie notes" together that Mayhem and Throns allegedly invented (according to Fenriz on Until the light takes us)?

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 13, 2011, 07:03:27 PM
Listen carefully to the tracks I mentioned (Key to the Gate, En ring til aa herske, Lost Wisdom, and Snu mikrokosmos tegn) - the 1 4 3 turns up in each of them, in E or C, as I mentioned.  Lost Wisdom has it at 2:50, En ring til aa herske has it from 2:28 to 3:17 and from 5:53 onwards.  Generally, it seems to be a "culmination" motif, as Key to the Gate, En ring til aa herske, and Lost Wisdom have it either at/towards the end or under solos.

At the most basic level, it shows the interchangability of parts in Burzum's music during his most productive period of composing. The iterations of this 'motif' through the early discography of Burzum reaches it's most transcendental expression in 'Det Som Engang Var' from 'Hvis...' so it seems likely that Varg was consciously or unconsciously recycling this crescendo until he couldn't apply it to any greater effect. 'Det Som Engang Var' and 'Lost Wisdom' are the most significant and similar manifestations of it, and it's interesting to note that 'Lost Wisdom' was chronologically the first appearance while 'Det Som...' was the last, and inbetween we find smaller variations of the idea populating his compositions (see here).

It's not unusual to find loan-riffs and interchangable parts in the early history of bands, such as the time when the entities of Havohej, Incantation and Profanatica were more closely aligned. More interestingly, comparing Enslaved's 'Hordane's Land' EP to the full-length 'Vikingligr Veldi' yields many structural and phrasal similarities to the extent that a lot of the latter only nominally contains entirely new songs. A few examples include the eagle-like final solos of both 'Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor' and 'Midgard's Eldar', the what can only be described as 'battle riffs' of 'Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor' and 'Heimdallr', both the opening riffs and piano integration of 'Balfar' and 'Norvegr'.

Interesting. So where does this motif originate from anyway? does it come from his influences or can it be found in an earlier music altogether?

Also for anyone in the know, what is the style of crushing "eerie notes" together that Mayhem and Throns allegedly invented (according to Fenriz on Until the light takes us)?

I always noticed some similarities between Thorns' 'Trondertun' tape and Cocteau Twins' 'Garlands' EP.

Somewhat related, the main verse riff of 'Dunkelheit' may be a reference to Beethoven's 5th Symphony.

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 13, 2011, 11:37:06 PM
Interesting. So where does this motif [3 2 0] originate from anyway? does it come from his influences or can it be found in an earlier music altogether?

It's really pretty straight-forward - they are the first three notes of the E minor scale played descending.

Here's an earlier example of the same root motion from Overkill's "The Years of Decay" from 1989:

  G5      F#5         E5
||------------------|------------------||
||o-----------------|-----------------o||
||------------------|-------0-------0--||
||------------------|-----4-------4----||
||o-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-|---2-------2-----o||
||--0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-|-3-------2--------||


It's not really much of a chord progression, either (bIII5 II5 I). There are probably songs by Bathory that fit the same pattern, if you hear the Norwegians using it.

...later... yep - "Shores in Flames":


E||----------------------|-------------------------|
B||----------------------|-------------------------|
G||----------------------|-------------------------|
D||--0--------0----------|--3------3--3s--2--------|
A||--0--------0----0--0--|--3------3--3s--2--2--2--|
D||--0--------0----0--0--|--3------3--3s--2--2--2--|

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 14, 2011, 06:48:28 AM
Also for anyone in the know, what is the style of crushing "eerie notes" together that Mayhem and Throns allegedly invented (according to Fenriz on Until the light takes us)?
Basically full minor chords played chromatically. This style was pretty much unheard of before in metal, due to the way high gain masks all of the notes. The technique is most prominent in early Thorns demos. See Aerie Descent and Cursed in Eternity.

Re: Burzum compositional style
June 20, 2011, 08:46:02 AM
There are probably songs by Bathory that fit the same pattern, if you hear the Norwegians using it.

Every single thing in extreme metal comes back to Hellhammer, Bathory and Slayer.

Re: Burzum compositional style
July 12, 2011, 06:07:42 AM
What notes are being played at 2:50 of lost wisdom? How do you know this is a 1-4-3?

I read the notes as E-C-F# in a descending motion.

Re: Burzum compositional style
July 12, 2011, 06:15:56 AM
It's B - C# - C (- C# - C) from 2:52.  The bit in brackets is an embellishment, almost like a short trill.

Re: Burzum compositional style
July 12, 2011, 06:23:08 AM
Okay, I see from 2:52 on.......but its B------D-----C#

Thats still not 1-4-3