1. #1
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    BackTrack Spotlight: "Sugar, We're Goin Down" by Fall Out Boy



    Each week we showcase an existing song from our extensive Rocksmith song library on the weekly Twitch stream, in addition to the current week's offerings. We’ll announce the BackTrack here each Wednesday and offer some thoughts about the featured song.

    This week's BackTrack Spotlight comes from me, notetracker Jarred McAdams.

    Fall Out Boy – “Sugar, We're Goin Down”
    Originally released as Rocksmith 1 DLC on February 5, 2013
    Notetracked by Jason Kocol and Matt Montgomery
    All arrangements in Drop D Tuning



    Sitting with a guitar in hand and trying to write a song can be a daunting task. You might come up with a cool riff or a neat chord progression, but then how do you spin that out into three to four minutes of music? Do you just repeat your idea over and over? Do you try to come up with a few different ideas and string them together? How do you keep it consistent and unified without becoming repetitive and boring?

    Fall Out Boy’s 2005 hit “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” can give us a few ideas. The trick here is to use a single generative idea to provide content for the song, but to transform that idea with variations in rhythm, density, and texture in order to sustain the listener’s interest for the duration of the song.

    The generative idea here is stated at the very begging, in the introduction. It consists of four chord sin the key of D Major:

    D – G – Bm – G
    I – IV – vi – IV

    At first we get a very straightforward statement of the chord progression, but then adds an instrumental hook on top of it. The guitar riff used here works over all the chord changes, so it repeats as the chords change under it. This is an approach that will be repeated again and again throughout the song.

    The verse presents another variation on the basic idea, by playing the same chord changes, but twice as fast—a concept known as playing in diminution. The texture is altered significantly as well, with the guitars dropping out leaving only vocals, bass, and drums, highlighting the vocal line when it enters, and leaving the song somewhere to go when it wants to ramp up the intensity.

    Midway through the verse, we get another variation on the approach take in the intro—the guitars play a cool, interlocking, repeating pattern over the basic chord progression. Again, we have this approach of one part that repeats while the other is moving. And again, nearly everything is being generated from our original idea.

    This approach continues throughout the song, with new variations being presented throughout. Sometimes we hear the full-throated power chords of the introduction, other times they are punctuated by octaves, or layered with yet another guitar riff. But the variations never take us too far from our original idea. Variety is important for keeping listeners engaged, but by deriving these variations from a single core theme, the song sounds like one big idea rather than a lot of little ideas strung together.
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    Rockin7GG's Avatar Member
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    Nice write up Jarred, as per usual. One question though, does this song ever utilize the V, Dominant chord of A ?, or is it entirely built around Tonic, Sub-Dominant and 6 minor chords ? Thanks !
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    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    Originally Posted by Rockin7GG Go to original post
    Nice write up Jarred, as per usual. One question though, does this song ever utilize the V, Dominant chord of A ?, or is it entirely built around Tonic, Sub-Dominant and 6 minor chords ? Thanks !
    The biggest harmonic variation in the song comes in the Prechorus, where all the instruments play an ascending single-note line: F#-G-A-B, which then goes up to the flat 7 note of C and descends back to G.

    You could interpret the A note in this passage as passing through the dominant. This is corroborated by the presence of the notes A and C# in the vocal line. But I don't hear it functioning as the dominant. I hear it as a passing chord between IV and vi... so I guess that's a yes and no.
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    Isn't this song in Drop D?
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    elemenohpenc's Avatar Senior Member
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    Originally Posted by ceestewart Go to original post
    Isn't this song in Drop D?
    yes it is.
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    toymachinesh's Avatar Senior Member
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    There's something really powerful about the part before the bridge to the outro.
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    TomKQT's Avatar Member
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    Originally Posted by ceestewart Go to original post
    Isn't this song in Drop D?
    I would say that this is badly worded. The song is in D major, as Jarred said (and I belive him). Maybe the guitar(s) playing the song on the record was tuned to Drop D, but that's just a tuning of the instrument and it doesn't say anything about the song (just that it MAY use some notes that you would be not able to hear in a song played on a standard-E guitar).
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    Lawrencein91's Avatar Member
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    Originally Posted by TomKQT Go to original post
    I would say that this is badly worded. The song is in D major, as Jarred said (and I belive him). Maybe the guitar(s) playing the song on the record was tuned to Drop D, but that's just a tuning of the instrument and it doesn't say anything about the song (just that it MAY use some notes that you would be not able to hear in a song played on a standard-E guitar).
    The post says that all arrangements are in E Standard tuning, they're not they're all Drop D.
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  9. #9
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    Originally Posted by ceestewart Go to original post
    Isn't this song in Drop D?
    Originally Posted by Lawrencein91 Go to original post
    The post says that all arrangements are in E Standard tuning, they're not they're all Drop D.
    Yes, you guys are right. My bad. Fixed now.
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