As the autumnal weather sets in, we all put on our extra jumpers, woolly hats and scarves. We sit by the window drinking hot chocolate whilst watching the rust-coloured leaves fall to the ground. As with every season, Autumn calls for a playlist to truly put you in that cosy mood. Many songs from various artists have captured, knowingly or otherwise, a true essence of this time of year by creating the ideal atmosphere through musical technique, reflective lyrics or simply the overall mood of the track.
September 2014 saw the release of Alt-J’s second album This Is All Yours which included the track Warm Foothills. Due to the band’s musical technique, this song calls to be listened to as part of your autumnal playlist. Warm Foothills begins with four short sections of melodic choral singing, separated with steady intervals of silence. The soft harmonic vocals can be seen to reflect the wind coming through a crack under the door or window- a typical sound of an autumn night which beckons you to curl up in your blanket to keep warm. After this tranquil introduction, the guitar becomes a more prominent feature. This is another characteristic of Autumn, in my opinion, as the intricate strumming replicates the sound of falling leaves or the pitter-patter of rain.
The melody performed by Joe Newman and Cameron Knight on guitars is swift and delicately played, presenting this autumnal rainfall. After a few bars, the instrumental section becomes an accompaniment as they allow the unique vocal section to take centre stage. Unlike other songs within the Indie-Rock genre, Alt-J decided to share each line of vocals between multiple singers; Newman takes the lead with intermittent sections of singing from Conor Oberst, Lianne La Havas, Sivu and Marika Hackman. This shared vocal technique evokes a true sense of togetherness and belonging, creating a warming atmosphere during the colder months when social activity and interaction are sometimes lacking. To have people around to share and reflect on your life is one of the most important things and the composition of Warm Foothills presents this perfectly.
For many of us, chilly autumnal days tend to feel like a Sunday morning- cold winds, rainy weather and the feeling of the dreaded imminent end to the weekend. The perfect pick-me up song for days like these: Sunday Morning by Maroon 5. As the track begins, our ears are instantly treated to an instrumental rock beat, piano accompaniment and, shortly after, Adam Levine introduces his passionate and upbeat vocals: ‘Sunday Morning, rain is falling; Steal some covers, share some skin.’
The opening lyrics sum up a cold autumnal morning perfectly and how to enjoy it regardless of the lack of summer sunshine when in ‘darkness, she is all I see.’ Maroon 5’s positive musical accompaniment to these lyrics connote how we should look upon each day with optimism, curl up in bed, warm up, and share this experience with a loved one; the true essence of Autumn.
An upbeat tempo continues throughout the song whilst the band gradually layers other musical accompaniments on top, including bass guitars, percussion and a brass section. This multi-layering of instruments can be seen to signify the many memories from Summer to remember and the excitement of looking forward to the future, a definitive track to lift the spirits on the coldest of autumn days.
Autumn is also a time for reflection; looking over the year, the love, the pain and the memories. Golden Leaves by Passenger is a fitting track for this period of contemplation. Slow-paced with orchestral accompaniment and quietened vocals, this track is filled with pure emotion. The lyrics convey two lovers who have drifted apart; lead singer Mike Rosenberg contemplates the past and calls for the memories of when things were ‘so full of hope. Natural imagery is present in many of the lyrics such as ‘Now my dear we are two golden leaves/ clinging desperately to winter trees.’ By comparing the falling leaves with people in a broken relationship, Rosenberg is seen to be using the season to allow thought of past times and memories. Although not as positive as Maroon 5’s track, Passenger has created an emotionally captivating track which perfectly encompasses the reflection period which undoubtedly occurs during Autumn.
From choral singing, to up-beat rhythms, to powerfully evocative lyrics the autumnal sounds for 2016 are sure to cater to each musical preference. Autumn this year is definitely set to be a wonderfully musically one!