The “drop” is an interesting term in music. Often associated with dubstep + EDM, Billboard describes it as the “…moment of instrumental build[-up] when the bass and rhythm hit hardest. It’s why arenas full of people suddenly start jumping up and down.” Some songs even dedicate their entire runtime to building up towards a satisfying, climactic drop, where the careful layering of instrumentation is integral to the timeline and direction our song leads us in, just like the flow of a well-written novel. Personally, I love how a great drop culminates the entire song into its absolute acme; all the carefully layered instrumentation is playing at once and any musical restraint is lifted. Here are some of my own favorite drops (and moments as a whole) in music that I’m dying to talk about. I hope you listen with a nice pair of headphones!
Easily the most incredible, mind-bending, ridiculous section of music I’ve ever heard. To those turned off, I promise you it’s music. If you don’t already have an affinity to noise in general, the climax of “A Little God In My Hands” is most definitely going to sound like total shrill, inarticulate, painful bullshit that you’ll definitely not want to hear again. But after you get used to the seemingly impenetrable wall of pure sound, it really breaks down into a kind of gorgeous chaos – like two supermassive stars have collided and the entire universe is being dismantled, as crushing flare and holy fury fills what used to be a placid space. The entire song is pretty insane, and you really have to listen through the whole thing to get the best experience.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is a moment of utterly honest passion and warmth, in a piece that’s icy cold and technical. I’ve talked about Sibelius’ Violin Concerto before, but I’ve been listening to it again recently, checking out Christian Ferras’ interpretation of the piece. His performance is incredibly heartwrenching – it’s apparent that he had a lot of personal resonance with the composition, having battled depression throughout his life. He also nails that double stop at 3:37 with such a perfect portamento afterwards that it’s like the purest form of love condensed itself into a string of major sixths. As for the section of music itself, the phrase really differs from other romantic sections in its total frankness – it’s a profession of love and beauty, but without the frills and the artifice of sentimentality that might come from something like some of Rachmaninoff’s more indulgent works. The difference is that nothing in real life is ever as flowery and romantic as the schmaltz of a Symphony No. 2 or a Rhapsody On Paganini. And don’t get me wrong, I loooove Rachmaninoff. But you can’t deny that Sibelius has baked an incredible maturity and complexity of the human experience into this piece. Just listen to how the phrases battle between major and minor in a bittersweet tango, as if every joyous thought is marred by sadness, and vice versa. C’est la vie.
Celeste! “Scattered and Lost” is the one of the most functional works of music I’ve listened to – as you progress through Celeste‘s spooky mansion level, the soundtrack progresses along with you, adding additional instrumental layers to signify the increase in difficulty until the final boss fight has the track culminate in a super catchy drum solo. It functions well as a soundtrack to communicate the level’s enigmatic tone, the game’s thematic focus on anxiety and self-hatred, and the intensity of the boss fight that helps drag the player into a state of flow. It’s difficult enough to compose for just one of these things, but the track manages to do all of it!
Yeah, it’s hyper-cynical. Yeah, it’s pretentious. Despite what you might think about FJM, you can’t deny how gorgeous his instrumentation is in “Pure Comedy.” The breakdown in this track is sorrowful, with brass wailing and choral lamentation filling the soundscape – what kind of comic reality are we in!?! It’s an indictment of us, and of God, and as such, the instrumentation is going to be huge, deeply melancholic, and tinged with a sad dose of existentialism and regret. Let’s not argue about the lyrics, haha.