Oi Vai

What it is about

Oi Vai is slang for Dear Me! Its an expression of surprise (or dismay) or delight (or hurt): like what happens when you listen to this song.

How it was written

The piece has a single melodic theme

Offsetting the starting note of the theme backwards and forwards in time creates lots of melodic variations. The variants are played by different instruments to create new harmonies and rhythms.

A staggering theme

Oi Vai theme (0:02)
Oi Vai theme
Oi Vai theme

The theme is a short melody based on a pentatonic scale.

The five notes in the scale are 0, 4, 5, 9 and 10. In the key of B, these are the notes B, D#, E, G# and A . This pentatonic scale has been used many times before in many different ways. Ian Carr's Nucleus did a good version on their 1970s album, Elastic Rock, interpreting it as a Balinese scale.

Theme and variation

First variant (0:06)
First  variant
First variant

The first variant plays the theme then repeats it and offsets the first note forward by half a beat.

Second variant (0:06)
Second  variant
Second variant

The second variant starts on the third beat of the second bar of the first variant.

Third variant (0:06)
Third  variant
Third variant

The third variant starts on the second offbeat of the first bar of the first variant.

Oi Vai in deed

Variant X (0:13)
Oi Vai variant X
Oi Vai variant X

Offsetting always produces something unexpected. Often it is a surprising harmony, other times it is an arresting rhythm, such as variant X, starting on the sixth eighth-beat of the first variant.

Oi Vai indeed!

Tech spec

Title: Oi Vai

Key: B

Tempo: 144bpm

Length: 3' 15"

Track 1: muted guitar

Track 2: steel guitar

Track 3: fretless bass

Track 4: drumset

Genre: pop, rock