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A Study of Dogs: Some Content from upcoming Pink Floyd University Course Print E-mail
Written by Ed Lopez-Reyes   
Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Gilad CohenFollowing our recent story on the Pink Floyd university course at Ramapo College, Gilad Cohen's academic study of the song Dogs has been published, offering a further glimpse into the type of material the course will cover. The article can be found at the journal Music Theory Online, Volume 21, Number 2, published June 2015 by the Society for Music Theory. Cohen discusses an upcoming book possibility and Pink Floyd conferences.

Brain Damage: In your PhD work, what place does the Dogs article hold; is it part of your PhD thesis?

Gilad Cohen: Yes, the Dogs article is part of the PhD dissertation that I wrote at Princeton, which investigates the ways Pink Floyd's large-scale songs succeed in maintaining vitality and interest while being based on very little material. This is something that is unique to Floyd: almost all other British bands from the 1970s used much more thematic material (melodies, chord progressions, grooves) when creating pieces of such scale.

BD: Have you analyzed a number of Pink Floyd songs in this depth?

GC: While I briefly referred to numerous songs from the repertoire as part of my research, I only analyzed two songs in such level of detail: Echoes and Shine On You Crazy Diamond. My analysis of the latter concentrates on its wide emotional range, and its central points were presented at the lecture/concert I gave at the Pink Floyd conference at Princeton last year. A video of this lecture/concert is available in its entirety here: Gilad Cohen: Shine On You Crazy Diamond - lecture and arrangement (complete).

BD: What can the average fan learn from the article?

GC: I always find that Pink Floyd fans are very open-minded and curious to discover more layers in the music they've known and loved for years, including complex musical and lyrical analysis. This is by no means obvious, since many rock fans (and musicians) like to dismiss such attempts. While this article is definitely on the academic side and includes professional terms and arguments, I believe that its fundamental points should be clear for everyone. Of particular interest would be the detailed transcriptions that I made for the three edgy and beautiful guitar solos that Gilmour played in 'Dogs.'

BD: Will more articles analyzing Pink Floyd music like this one be published?

GC: My current plan is to develop and expand my dissertation into a book about Pink Floyd's style, which will allow me to explore in-depth issues I was always fascinated by: the evolution of the band's style over the years starting with the Barrett era, the place of the keyboards and guitars in shaping the band's sound, the place of sound experiments, and more generally, what makes the band's music so unique and influential. For example, while the power of The Beatles' songs is largely due to their inventive melodies and harmonic progressions, I don't think this is the case in regards to Pink Floyd. Such a book will probably be less 'academic' than the 'Dogs' article and accessible to all fans, while still presenting an in-depth musical analysis. I hope to find a publisher who'd be interested in discussing such project.

I should mention that academic analysis of Pink Floyd music was published in the past. I'll mention three great books: Speak To Me, a collection of essays about The Dark Side of the Moon edited by Russel Reissing; Which One's Pink by Philip Rose - which analyzes the concept albums, mostly from a lyrical point of view - and Rocking the Classics by Edward Macan, which discusses the style of progressive rock more generally, but offers and insightful look at Wish You Were Here as well as important observations about Pink Floyd.

BD: Did you and Dave Molk ponder holding another Pink Floyd conference this year? What factors made you decide to skip a new conference and is there a possibility a new conference may be held in the future?

GC: I initiated the conference last year out of sheer love for the music and it was a huge undertaking for Dave Molk and me to produce it. Once I graduated and joined Ramapo College of New Jersey as an Assistant Professor of Music this year, it was simply too overwhelming for me to consider doing such a project during my first year of teaching, while also working as a composer and performer. It is also important to note that the conference was generously supported by Princeton University, following the request Dave and I made while we were doctoral students there. A future conference will need to be funded, probably on a larger scale, by someone or some institute in order to make it happen. I would surely be happy to be part of it.

You can learn more about Cohen here: www.giladcohen.com.

 
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