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Occupy Melodies

New York New Yorkers have been singing lots of fresh new songs over the past couple of months. They sing on the street, and in the park, and on the bridge. They even engage in what George Orwell once called “group-sing”. They sing syncopated 4/4 call-and-answer crowd-pleasers, sung with the People’s Microphone, at plus 120 beats per minute, many of them throwbacks to the 60′s anti-war folk era. That old standby “Hey Hey, Ho Ho”, while explicitly unsung throughout the movement, inspires many of the cadences you hear in modern day protest music. “The People United” as widgetized below, has the same feel as this revolutionary classic. To sing it is to realize a tambourine is never far behind.

The iambic rhythms of the “hey-HEY” and the “ho-HO” are kept intact, but the tempo has been souped up; it’s practically house music at 134 bpm. “The People United” like many Occupy melodies, is completely monotonal. In the example above, the protestor sings around an F#. Try looping the drum beat with the chant, and dropping a few F# bass bombs on top. I read somewhere that Jay-Z is going to do a mash-up, co-opting this little Occupy melodie [sick].

Minor Thirds
But the songiest protests of the Occupation are the call-and-answer chants such as “This Is What Democracy Looks Like” which encompasses an actual musical interval. Drag and click on the score below to hear the Minor Third interval between the antecedent phrase “Show me what…” and the consequent phrase “This is what…”

Democracy is clapping on the ones without shame.

Sometimes it’s a Major Third interval, when the antecedent protestor is over-zealous, but usually it’s Minor all the way. Chanting Minor Thirds is a popular way to go, as Seconds are too small for anyone to care about, and Major Thirds and Fourths are too big for anyone to sing. But even the noisy mobs at a modern day sporting event can sing perfectly pitched, albeit profane, Minor Thirds. Minor Thirds are what makes minor music sad, and there is sadness here too. All minor 3rds are the blues, as the saying goes.

Here’s my personal favorite, “Shame” by OWS. It is a 4/4 song, as they all are, with staccato accents on the ones.

NYPD also like to make music, but none of that acoustic hippie drum circle crap. The boys in blue make electric music, using their favorite electric instruments―the Long Range Acoustic Devices, or sound cannons―that drone triple forte (ƒƒƒ), also known as ‘fucking fucking forte’, and drown out all melodies in their path.

Like a thousand crickets crying out from a flaming field. Like every siren of every squad car from your local precinct all sounding at once. I have to jam with it.

By the way, did I mention:


All politiks is art: It fart.


  1. Mike says:

    Technically, the way it’s notated that’s an augmented second.

    • Los Doggies says:

      Yes, yes; yes. You are so right! I am an enharmonic idiot, and unfortunately, that widget will have to stay like that forever.

      Also, I don’t believe in Augmented Seconds.