Moving on

asaAsa – Moving On

Over the years, Asa’s eclectic songs have successfully earned her a place amongst Nigeria’s most talented musicians whose songs are timeless. The prominent defining features that highlight her talent and professionalism are vocal flexibility, stage performance and songwriting which are sometimes melancholic, lively, but deep and rich in meaning. One of the apparent features one observes when they listen to Asa’s music is that the singer’s lyrics are well written and thoughtfully set to music in a way that the lyrics, melodies, instrumentation, and performance work together to make her music worthwhile. In addition, the act comes across as one who understands vocal textures and how they fit into genres and thus strives to stay within the ambits of genres where her vocal texture and quality fits.

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In Moving On, there’s an air of urgency as the song starts with no instrumental prelude. This is apt, considering the theme of the music and the first two lines which introduces the song thusly “I had to run away and hide/ something happened in the middle of the night.” The song tells a story of a forsaken person in pain who hopes for a better life. The story is told in two verses, a bridge section, and chorus following the generic songwriting structure: Verse 1—Chorus—Verse 2—Chorus—Bridge—Chorus.

Asa-1Asa’s Moving On is one of the most emotional songs in her critically acclaimed 2014 album—Bed of Stone

The textural variation is effected with a systematic use of instrumentation. For instance, the first verse is accompanied by a piano, guitar, and very low synths, thereby placing a huge degree of focus on the singing voice that tells a story. This is soon followed by full synths, drums, bass and string solos which continue in the second verse while creating a contrast in texture and dynamics. The contrast is also evident in the chorus accompanied by only piano chords and guitar strums right after an intense bridge section. This is a clear demonstration of how instrumentation can be used to achieve textural effects. In the chorus section, she sings:

Where do you go when you’re by yourself?
Who comes along when you cry for help?
I know I can’t change the past but as the river keeps flowing
I’ll keep on moving on…

Although the choice of melodies for the chorus induces an emotional and melancholic feeling, the melodic repetition in the first two lines makes the chorus memorable and could leave a lasting impression on any good listener. Oftentimes, the strength of songs lies in their choruses as a result of the rise in dynamics which, in music semiotics, suggests emotional intensity in contrast to the verses where the song dynamics is often low. In Moving On, the bridge section, although short, also demonstrates emotional intensity.

The deed has been done
My spirit is broken
You gave me a reason
You left me with questions…

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From the first to the third line, the melodic contour rises from a low to a high pitch, suggesting a gradual rise in emotion. In the context of the song’s theme, this could also mean acceptance of an irreparable situation which leaves the act with questions. These questions are asked in the chorus sections and the answer is provided—“I’ll keep on moving on”.

Being one of the most emotional songs in her critically acclaimed 2014 album—Bed of Stone, Asa’s Moving On is a song for the troubled and wounded mind seeking a space for deep reflection, meditation, and healing.

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