I've been plagiarizing Think Harder's song 'Who I Am' for the past 10 years and no one can stop me
Ever since I started producing electronic music as 'cyntrix', I've been hiding as many musical motifs from Think Harder's song 'Who I Am' as possible.
If you didn't already know, I played synth and guitar in the band Think Harder back in the day (check out [a brief look-back of Think Harder: Louisville Metro Pop Punk] to get up to speed). Performing with the band was a really important part of my identity so I figure the best way to honor that part of my life is to plagiarize the ever-loving-crap out of our old material.
If you don't use Spotify, all of the music is available across all streaming platforms. All music can be streamed for free on Think Harder's and Cyntrix's bandcamp!
Here is the song in question:
Music Theory ahead
You have been warned.
I'm going to map out the structure of the song, just for reference:
0:00 - Intro
0:11 - Pre-verse
0:22 - Verse
0:35 - Pre-chorus
0:46 - Chorus A
1:10 - Pre-verse
1:21 - Verse
1:33 - Pre-chorus
1:44 - Chorus A
2:08 - Breakdown
2:20 - Guitar Solo
2:43 - Chorus B
3:06 - Chorus A
3:30 - Chorus B
3:53 - Outro
Pay close attention to Chorus B and the Guitar Solo. Skip to 2:20 in the song to hear what I'm talking about. The Guitar Solo starts at 2:20, then transitions to Chorus B at 2:43. I don't know what about that Cm - Bbm - Ab (honestly VI - V - IV in general) chord progression speaks to me so much, but it's been stuck in my head ever since the song was written.
I became particularly fixated on that particular part of the song, dissecting each layer and integrating them into new projects, Easter-egg-style. Whether it was the synth hook (which is actually ripped off from the main riff to Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by Skrillex, but that's a story for another time), the root-to fifth-to-minor-third strumming pattern of the rhythm guitar, the classic pentatonic-style guitar solo, or just the structure of the chord progression in general, it pretty much became the basis and foundation of how I wrote my solo material.
I'll start with some of the more obvious examples.
Masks Faded is a pretty straight-forward remix by Cyntrix of Think Harder's Who I Am. It's slow and melancholy style really stands in contrast of fast and upbeat pacing of the original song. The remix was made in the spirit of Gary Jules, with an intimate style of vocals similar to some Brand New songs. The chiptune instrumental with oscillating sub-bass and slower pacing really make the song feel heavy. The remix was pretty much where it all began. Jacob, the vocalist of Think Harder recorded new vocals specifically for the remix.
In Cortus, the first track off Animus EP (2017) by Cyntrix, the chorus, starting at 2:18, is literally Chorus B from Think Harder's Who I Am just ripped off note for note. The vocals were from Cyntrix's remix of Who I Am (Masks Faded), where Jacob recorded a new version of the vocals. Also, we can't forget the alternate verse version of the song, Animus, where the vocals are also featured!
Those are the most obvious examples that feature elements directly from the Think Harder song, but we're just scratching the surface!
In the song, Spiraling by Cyntrix & The Pilot there is a special treat. The same exact synth I played live in Think Harder is used for the synth solo in this song. The Korg R3 was used on the same setting from when Think Harder was performing live. It's slightly different than the synth used in Think Harder's recordings; it comes off as warmer and more intimate. In Spiraling, the synth solo starting at 3:40 transitions into that I-V-iii arpeggio which can be heard in Who I Am's Chorus B rhythm guitar.
In the song Fractal off of Cyntrix's Animus (2017), right at 4:20, a reprise of Who I Am (Chorus B, of course) comes out of nowhere to end the song. The entire song is a crazy journey full of trippy synths, BPM and key-changes, and the ending kind of serves as a foundation of sorts for the song to end, arriving at a familiar place.
Perspectives is a fun simple DnB/Trap-style song featuring the Chorus B chord progression and synths based of the sound design of the keyboard in 'Who I Am'.
There are some aspects of Think Harder's Who I Am in pretty much every song I work on, whether it be that VI-V-IV chord progression, the rhythm guitar's arpeggio shapes, riffs, motifs, or even sound design, it's safe to say there's something in each and every Cyntrix song. There's plenty that isn't mentioned in this article, so listen for yourself and see what you can find!
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