Return to Tool: The most difficult music in modern rock (idea)

[artemis entreri] has it right: while [Tool]'s [music] doesn't look too impressive [on paper], and they don't play at [inhuman] speed, the [tone] and [texture] of their [sound] is almost impossible to duplicate, and this is what makes them masters of their [instrument]s. But in a more general sense, they are masters of [music] (and this is a very important distinction: it doesn't matter if you can play like [Jimi Hendrix] if you write like N'sync).

Tool is probably the closest thing in [modern rock] to [classical music]. Ever listen to a [fugue]? I'm sure you have; if you aren't familiar with the term, go fix that right away. Now listen to [Forty-six & 2]. Pay particular attention to the [solo]/[breakdown] bit, the last two minutes of the [song] (note: I've been trying on-and-off for months to tab this bit correctly and completely for all instruments. It's absolutely impossible.) It is - make no mistake - a modern fugue (albeit shorter and less complex than something [Bach] would've written). Listen - there is the basic [theme], and then we hear it [transformed], played over itself delayed, played with a different rhythm, different [emphasis], moved up an [octave], etc etc. It may not conform to all the rules of a fugue (I don't know them so I couldn't say) but it retains the basic concept.

Tool's music, unlike that of most bands, is [orchestrated]; it is thought out. The vast majority of bands in modern rock follow the basic pattern: think up a couple [chord progression]s (hey, lets use [power chord]s, they're [easy]), think up a [tune] for the verse and one for the [chorus], insert [cliche]d and [hackneyed] [lyrics] here and viola we have a song. If they're really lazy, they can even use the [12-bar blues] and dont even have to think up their own progression! (Note: a lot of very good music is in 12-bar blues (lots of [Stevie Ray Vaughn], for starters); their strengths lie in the incredible soloing. There's also a lot of [shitty], [generic] 12-bar blues out there.) Tool doesn't play like that. In fact, I can't think of a Tool song where a guitar actually [strum]s a chord; they prefer to let the chord be expressed through the [amalgamation] of what all the instruments are playing. A similar style is often employed in classical music, as many instruments can only make one [note] at a time.

It is true that some of Tool's music, particularly pre-[Lateralus], is much less complex than Forty-Six & 2. [Opiate], their [freshman] album, is just barely outside the realm of average [alternative] music. [Undertow] and [Ænima] are better, but still contain a few songs that have little instrumental complexity (although generally these songs are balanced with lyrical complexity, like, say [Hooker with a Penis]). But it is worth noting that pre-Lateralus, Tool refused to write music that they couldn't play [live] exactly as they did in the [studio] - so no [layering]. Lateralus, however, brought with it the wonderful world of [studio enhancement] (though it STILL sounds exactly the same live; I am amazed. But anyway), and most of the songs on Lateralus have a high degree of intrumental complexity. [Lateralis], [The Grudge], [Disposition], [Reflection], are all very similar to Forty-Six & 2 in this respect.

There is a further degree of complexity to Tool's music, however - the [scale]s they use. Anyone familiar with [Indian] [Carnatic music] reading this? Listen to [Sober], off Undertow. Try and discern the [raga]. It's [Revathi]. Listen to Reflection. You'll hear [Sindhu Bhairavi] (and listen to the [drum] in Disposition, its a [tabla]!). Tool uses scales (and, indeed, other musical concepts) from all over the world in their music. They use Indian and [Middle Eastern] ragas quite frequently, as well from the [Far East] and other places around the world.

Tool, taken in pieces, is not difficult. A guitarist with a few months of practice could probably play the main [riff] from Forty-Six & 2. But it takes true musical mastery to [compose] the way they do, and to [play] so perfectly in step with each other as they do. And it takes a true understanding of music to bring together concepts from all different parts of the world and make [really good music] out of it.