Schism – Tool

This song serves a dual purpose in relation to this week – its meter and its possible meaning.

The meter is hardly exact, but there is a definite pattern of trochees. Many of the lines also have thirteen syllables – it seems insignificant on its own, but Tool as a bit of an obsession with numbers in general so it’s probably not unintentional.. Anyway, Tool is known for creating a lot of dissonance both musically, lyircally, and emotionally in their songs, so using such an unusual meter is not surprising for those who often listen to the band. However, the effect it creates is fascinating – combined with an almost eerie tension, the stresses are placed on words we might expect to be unstressed under normal circumstances.

For instance, within the first line – “I know the pieces fit,” Maynard specifically stresses “I,” “the,” the second syllable of “pieces,” and “fit” – with particular attention to “the first and last words of the line (a recurring pattern throughout the song). We also see this in the second line of the second stanza (NO fault, NONE to BLAME, it DOESN’T mean I DON’T deSIRE) – there is a clear emphasis on the speaker’s perspective and on negativity.

To fit with the unsettling tension, the entire song is actually about tension between two lovers. From a modern perspective, we automatically assume that the song is about an unhealthy relationship involving Maynard – the band’s primary lyricist and lead singer. However, as seen in Bates’ article, we cannot automatically assume that this is about Maynard’s actual failed relationship – but perhaps it is simply a story he created. However, the likelihood that this song wasn’t written by Maynard to vent his feelings and ideas is slim.

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