Intro to intros
The Inside Dope Kollege of Musical Knowledge (r) would like to introduce you to introductions, otherwise known as intros.
These little things are often key to a song's success, and certainly it's memorability. They say that first impressions are key, well, I guess the same is true with a song.
There are many intros that have become immortal in their own right and instantly recognizable. I'd guess just about anyone can name that tune from listening to either this... or this famous intro from a certain aging rock band, probably within a couple notes.
I grabbed a few examples of intros out of the massive Inside Dope vault to explore this topic a bit further. They're probably not the best examples, but they'll do nicely.
A simple, memorable guitar hook is always popular. Here's another example in addition to the two previous.
But occasionally, even the drummer gets some, as in this intro which starts out sounding like a nitro dragster at the line, then the light turns green.
I'd wager there's been thousands of speeding tickets handed out to people listening to that tune full blast. (really, how could you possibly go the speed limit?)
Counting out the song by riffing on muted guitar strings seems popular as well, as in this example.
In this category there's this famous example, definitely one of the classic intros of all time.
Misdirection is also popular, where usually one instrument will start off on an entirely different sort of music or feel, then gradually, or suddenly, break into the song itself. This can be a very artful form of intro.
I'm sure there's better examples, but here's one.
Oftentimes musicians will decide to keep it interesting by adding a different twist or flavor to a well-known or overplayed tune by means of a new intro. This of course usually employs misdirection, thus keeping the audience baffled until the last moment when they finally recognize the tune. Audiences seem to go wild at the moment they realize it's an old favorite.
In the following example (the one that got me going on this weird topic) the band seems to come up with a different intro each time they play the song, which is interesting in itself.
But when I heard this version, I was struck by just what an interesting intro it really is, playing with and distorting a light classical tune, and the payoff chords are big and powerful. (you may have to turn this one (way) up a bit.)
Then there's the intro that defies explanation. These are almost routinely interesting, and this is probably the best example I'm aware of in recent years. A great 70's retro secret agent TV theme thing going on. (bonus points if you can figure out what the hell the guy is saying in the looped sample. The best I could figure still makes no sense. Not that it has to. OH, and you might want to turn the volume back down before this clip or risk having your ears bleed.)
And finally to my personal grand-daddy of them all. This is certainly not one of the most famous intros, in fact, I doubt any reader's even heard it before.
In creating a new intro for a very familiar song, it results in a very effective misdirection.
From the simple notes on the Fender Rhodes to the horn arrangement that's a thing of beauty, this one does it for me.
I love this intro so much I could listen to it over and over dozens of times at a sitting... and I have. I simply can't hear it without immediately starting it again and listening to the intro again, the louder the better.
Turn it way up. Here's the Steely Dan Orchestra and my favorite intro (for now) recorded live from the sound board at Poplar Creek a few years back. (by the way, Steely Dan will be at the Chicago Theatre July 15)
I'm not sure I've ever heard two notes on a snare drum have as much impact as when Dennis Chambers jump starts the groove. And the sheer precision of all the musicians (which included the late, great Cornelius Bumpus on tenor), is amazing.
I wanted to keep the song a mystery and let you guess it, but the intro is so effective at misdirection that it really offers no clues as to the song it leads into. Sorry about the give-a-way, but really, do you think you would have ever guessed the song?
Any readers that feel they're up on their music, or have a little time to kill, are welcome to take a stab at naming the tunes that go with the intros above. Some are gimmes, but others may be not so obvious.
And of course, I'd like to hear any songs you feel should be included in the pantheon of great, memorable, and/or distinctive song intros.
For this you'll be given 1.5 hours credit which is transferable to any fake college or university of your choice.