Measure For Measure: Robert And Brandi

When I heard that Robert Plant and Brandi Carlile would be featured in this issue, it set my idle mind to wondering whether they’d ever met up in real life. After all, they come from different generations and different worlds of music. Turns out they have met at least once: at the Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts in Virginia, July, 2015, where Carlile sang “Going to California,” a song that Plant wrote for Joni Mitchell in 1971. This gave me an idea: Why not compare wildly different songs by Plant and Carlile and see how “Going To California” might merge elements of both? To keep the discussion focused, we’ll concentrate on one area of songwriting: form. Phrases are the building blocks of form, and phrase endings define the boundaries of phrases. Skillfully wrought endings, or cadences, are where hard rock meets Americana and smiles. “The Immigrant Song” Listen to this Led Zeppelin classic and note the moments when Plant takes a breath or when the music changes. These phrase-defining breaks are called cadences. (Cheat sheet: end of guitar intro, .09; end of screaming, .17; “...hot springs blow,” .23; “...gods,” .26; “...new lands,” .30; “...I am coming,” .41; “...western…

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