Week 117: “Second Hand” by errunriv

I’ve always been interested in song titles.

When I first heard this song, I assumed that the title referred to something inherited, as in “second-hand clothing”. But after a few listens, I noticed that there was no hyphen in the title, and suddenly realized that it might be making reference to the “second hand” on a clock. For some reason, thinking of a clock made me hear the song in a different way.

For a brief moment, I sat there contemplating how amazing the human brain is; how our understanding of a song’s title can change our perception of the song itself. How our like or dislike of a person can be influenced by the person’s name. How our enthusiasm for a shirt can be influenced by the music playing in the store when we try it on.

Then the moment was over, and I went back to eating my sandwich.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. Repetition. The piano’s simple, repetitive pattern of (mostly) thirds at the beginning of the song really reminds me of Philip Glass.

2. Surprise. The clarinet that comes in at 0:27 is an unlikely companion for the piano. I’m not sure what instrument I was expecting, but it wasn’t the clarinet.

3. Entropy. Much like “Turn the Koala” by Red Blue Green, this song gradually disintegrates into chaos. The thirds turn into all kinds of intervals, the regular rhythm they follow falls apart, and it’s capped off by the clarinet spinning away up a scale just before the 5-minute mark, like an unintentionally triggered firework.

Recommended listening activity:

Arranging your books by colour, rather than by title.