BTS‘s new track “Black Swan” expresses the dark side of the group’s journey as artists and the song proves their ability to branch out to different and unique styles of music. Taking a look at the song from a musical perspective, three main points can be found.
The track starts with a guitar sound which sounds quite similar to the Korean traditional instrument called the gayageum, giving the song Korean cultural vibes right from the beginning.
Here’s a quick clip of what a gayageum sounds like.
The mix of the gayageum with the more modern sound gives off a unique sound that makes the song a more Asian feel.
Another part that shows their cultural side is in the beat they use for the chorus. They are using the pentatonic scale in that portion. Although this scale is known throughout the world, in Korea, it is called 궁상각치우 (Goong sang gak chi woo) which is the pentatonic scale that is mostly used in Asian music, meaning that this song gives off a more traditional Asian sound rather than a Western sound.
Let’s delve into the trap beat sound that’s being used in this song. Trap beat is a genre of hip-hop that uses mostly a 808 kick base along with a hi-hat beat. Mixing the darker and heavier 808 kick base with a faster hi-hat beat is the base sound for a trap beat. Because the BPM for the trap beat is slower, the hi-hat sound helps to give a more upbeat sound to the overall beat.
Here’s an example of an 808 kick with a faster tempo hi-hat sound mix.
This style of hip-hop is more subtle and expresses emotion from within. This style of rap does not usually associate with love or breakups but more with mental health such as depression and anxiety.
Taking a look at the lyrics of the song, you can see that they are trying to understand what music really means to them. Sometimes, lyrics that talk about one’s story hits home more than the usual love song. Being able to express your true emotions is something that all artists from all genres encounter throughout their lifetime.
Now have a listen after taking in the musical elements of the song:
BTS continues to shock fans with their never-ending efforts to endure and overcome their dynamic journey as artists of this generation.