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Showcasing Muse’s musicianship


thebigwool
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I’d be very interested to hear your views on which tracks best exemplify the guitar, piano, bass, drumming and vocal skills of the band - from the perspective of all you practising musicians. Top ten examples of each would be nice, but it needn’t be that restrictive.

 

If you can say what you like most about individual examples, so much the better.

 

The aim is for me to create compilations so I can turn my bandmates on to my favourite group. Some of them are proving kind of stubborn. :)

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Guitar:

- Bedroom Acoustics

- Invincible

- Screenager

- The Groove

- Man Of Mystery

- Darkshines

- Animals

- Reapers

- Thoughts Of A Dying Atheist

 

Bass:

- New Born

- Hysteria

- Futurism

- Cave

- The Handler

- Liquid State

- Easily

- Reapers

- Darkshines

 

Drums:

- Assassin

- City Of Delusion

- Hoodoo

- Stockholm Syndrome

- Unnatural Selection

- Butterflies & Hurricanes

- Take A Bow

- Map Of The Problematique

- Animals

- Twin

- Glorious

 

Vocals:

- Take A Bow

- Futurism

- Micro Cuts

- Big Freeze

- Ruled By Secrecy

- Survival

- Sing For Absolution

- City Of Delusion

- Showbiz

- Follow Me

 

Piano:

- Hoodoo

- Piano Thing

- Cross-Pollination

- Space Dementia

- United States Of Eurasia

- I Belong To You

- Butterflies & Hurricanes

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Yeah what Jobby said. And here I compiled the songs from his list that show up more than once:

 

Take A Bow

Butterflies & Hurricanes

Reapers

Animals

Futurism

Darkshines

City of Delusion

 

Also I would add The Handler for bass and vocals.

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That’s a good shout. I’d throw in Panic Station as well.

 

Thanks for all the suggestions. It’s a good excuse to give closer scrutiny to some songs I’ve been neglecting lately.

 

Undisclosed Desires and madness for vocals as well. Basically all the pop songs where Matt doesn’t play an instrument and instead walks around like a diva have exceptionally good vocals.

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most of their best songs have excellent bass, guitar, and vocals, so those should be obvious. Also whenever there's any piano at all it's tended to be better than worse (Starlight/Mercy nonwithstanding) I find it most interesting to track down the ones with great drumming, cuz Dom has a way of not standing out to me and just playing exactly what the song requires unless I'm listening for him.

 

some drums:

Hyper Music

Assassin

Animals

Isolated System

Citizen Erased

Apocalypse Please

Stockhold Syndrome

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Guitar:

Plug in Baby

New Born

Dead Star

Fury

Map of the Problematique

 

Gotta disagree with those tbh :chuckle:

 

Fury and Map are ultra simple, both heavily reliant on effects to flesh ‘em out. I’d say the same for Dead Star and New Born as well tbh - the solos require tapping/trem picking technique but it’s pretty simple and short stuff. Then PIB’s just scale-work and a couple of chords really.

Edited by Jobby
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Gotta disagree with those tbh :chuckle:

 

Fury and Map are ultra simple, both heavily reliant on effects to flesh ‘em out. I’d say the same for Dead Star and New Born as well tbh - the solos require tapping/trem picking technique but it’s pretty simple and short stuff. Then PIB’s just scale-work and a couple of chords really.

Oddly, I strongly disagreed with almost all of your selections too! Most of them would do nothing for me if I heard them cold as examples of exciting guitar work. Very different tastes there.

 

I included both Fury and MotP precisely because of their use of effects to create a really unique sound. As a guitarist myself, that's what I find exciting and interesting. My Bloody Valentine interest me more than Steve Vai! And I wasn't really considering the solos - certainly not as a stand alone thing. Maybe it's because I spent my teens shredding in a power metal band but solos now rarely impress or interest me unless they add to the feel/emotion and progression of a song, or do something really sonically unusual. So for example, I hate the solo in Invincible but love the solos in Sunburn or Citizen Erased. And a riff that thrills me is better again.

Edited by Static Shadows
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I much prefer MBV to Steve Vai but Vai has more mastery over the guitar if that's the only metric (instruments were asked in the OP). Him and other "shredders" (ex. Buckethead) can do some weird and creative sounds too while also having the strong technical skill that does take effort to even replicate.

 

Anyways I find bass and vocals to be the only ones that really excel in musicianship minus few examples of the other. The members are all way more skilled than what they put on album. That's not a problem in the slightest but it does make it harder to show skill through those songs.

 

Also, Osaka Jam.

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I much prefer MBV to Steve Vai but Vai has more mastery over the guitar if that's the only metric (instruments were asked in the OP). Him and other "shredders" (ex. Buckethead) can do some weird and creative sounds too while also having the strong technical skill that does take effort to even replicate.

 

^^ It’s not so much what you like/prefer, but what’s the best showing of their ability.

 

The members are all way more skilled than what they put on album.

 

I originally thought that but I’m not so sure now. Matt’s guitar work is 100% more technical than what he records, pretty sure he’s admitted that he does that intentionally to account for the fact that he’s often singing at the same time live.

 

That might be just about it though imo. I don’t get the impression his piano ability stretches much (if any) further than what we’ve seen tbh. Chris might be able to do some crazy shit if you pushed him but, then again, when he’s given total control over what he’s playing he tends to stick to that similar Liquid State/D&B jam sound and level. Think Dom’s playing at pretty much full pelt on Assassin as well, and maybe at the end of Knights at live shows.

Edited by Jobby
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There's one really old interview that has Matt on an acoustic and he does some nice things I've never seen him do anywhere else.

 

His piano work is probably closest on record but something like Butterflies is just crossover arpeggios. That footage he has when he was 12 isn't very far from the difficulty of a lot of Muse songs and I doubt he never improved far beyond that in a decade.

 

Kinda same with Dom. The live jams or making-of noodling tends to have more demanding parts and more complex rhythms than what we normally see, especially in the past two albums.

 

I did say there were some exceptions where they do show off but they were very few.

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I think we can see some limits of Matt's abilities in songs like MK Ultra and The Handler, where the odd timing when combined with singing has meant that he either omitted the guitar part (MK Ultra) or intentionally cut off the mic feed so he could practice in a live setting before getting it right (The Handler). I honestly hope that he keeps practicing that, because that would really add an element to their music for me. Or just start using Morgan properly instead of just for show (which it feels like sometimes). Give the man a guitar!

 

Also despite how technically wanky it might sound, I really wish Muse would experiment with more technical stuff in terms of rhythm and time. I know they dabble with more time signature stuff than you might think, but that's not the point. I want something that SOUNDS weird. Like, back in 2006 they joked about almost becoming an experimental jazz band and I'm just like...yes. Give me Muse's take on that!

 

Something like this would suit Muse imo:

(which I now realise is a bit like what Muse did with Popcorn. So yeah do that...but with something other than Popcorn.

 

There's one really old interview that has Matt on an acoustic and he does some nice things I've never seen him do anywhere else.
I think you're thinking of this.
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Ngl that “breaking through” section does weirdly muddle your brain. It’s so simple but I struggle to do both unless I keep tempo by hitting muted strings between the notes (which sounds sloppy tbh).

 

Matt’s a bit better than me though, so

 

Edit: The Groove’s a weird one in that sense imo. I have next to zero difficulty singing and playing the riff at the same time but Matt always seemed to struggle with the timing, resorting to just playing chords for the verses in the modern performances. Omitting the last chorus when he’s soloing is forgivable though.

Edited by Jobby
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