The “diarrhea” of “an awful lot of” contemporary “pop/rock” music
Do you know what happens when you live on a diet of processed entrees and fast food? When never a fresh fruit or vegetable passes your lips and your fiber count is measured in “mgs” instead of grams?
You guessed it: that horrible “D” word. Also known in medical circles as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) --
So what’s up with the computer spew of 75% of most contemporary popular artists (mostly rock/pop) They, say the song is dead; well who killed it? Was it the independent label music movement? Certainly NOT! Was it rap, punk, or grunge or whatever? Was it Madonna who first put the crack in “The Wall” that the forties, fifties and sixties generation so carefully began brick by brick? I don’t know -- for you, but for me, it’s been a downhill ride since 1984.
And I was one, well that was at “the roots of rock” sort of speak (thanks to an older sister who took me to the Fillmore East in New York City at age 14) – I was naïve enough to ask about that “funny smelling smoke” in the air and those funny looking cigarettes) BUT I later thanked her, for I saw “Santana” live there when their second album (Black Magic Woman) hadn’t even hit the shelves.
I saw PINK FLOYD at that venue a year later when they were still called: The Pink Floyd and they had an opening act play before they came out (i.e. later when fame hit: Pink Floyd ALWAYS played alone because of their massive WALL of speakers and equipment.)
I saw bands in New York city that are now relics of the sixties and seventies: Procol Harum, Jethro Tull’s first incarnation, YES, Bob Dylan WITH “The Band”!! – even Black Sabbath after their 1st LP, and, “Mott the Hoople” touring their FIRST LP (remember them? --an LP is an old vinyl record that was played on a turntable. YOU didn’t “use the turntable to scratch! – you just plugged it into an outlet and speakers and when you PUT the NEEDLE down on the grooves it made music – and crackling and popping sounds. LONG LIVE THE CD! And the mp3 as well I guess) But, I digress…
So where is this blog heading??????
Today, you can record and cut a CD in your bedroom, then (IF you have enough friends and a gig someplace – or JUST USE U-Tube) you can SELL CDs to a brainwashed market, or YOUR FANS, if you can GET ENOUGH, you’ll even make money: MAYBE. It can all be done on your HOME Computer. And why, because YOU are a musician(?): “Frankly NOT my dear” as Gable used to say. (Gable who? say the young readers?) It’s all virtual marketing after that…
BUT in case you are still naïve as to how IT is done that so many of today’s artists may not need to know almost anything about music, let alone, may not need to have spent years playing an instrument OR singing and yet get on the “Virtual Airwaves” and perhaps even end up on the Today show spot soon, along with the “singing babies” that periodically appear on the internet sites and on “U(you)-Tube”. Well it doesn’t even take “R.C”s [read Record Companies] to do that (perhaps just a shrewd “Boomer or GenX” Mom/Dad Manager)… Yep, it’s so called “Performance Now” and there’s very little music to worry those Artists about. But the R.C.’s still can get their cut and have absolutely NO REASON to complain!!! - about the “Indie and Virtual Music artists” wrecking their profit.
THEY helped “build the beast” they fear everyday (and I hope it does eat their Creator like a type of “Cannibal Baby” gone wild).
And THEY profit everyday by the existence of the youth-culture fueled “Music” industry who’s “Heart & Soul” is made up of the “clinking, clacking, metallic empty banging” of a musical palette of sounds that is “as Soul-LESS” as the heart of the “King Beast” himself (you know that Devil “Sam” who is lurking behind everybody’s dream of a “musical-career ‘Garden of Eden’) –
And as far as those “Singing Babies” and “Parading Sex-Toy Imagery of “Twelve-year+ something” girly-woman, parading across the video screens of Virtual and TV America (every so often) THEY and those nice Boomer+ parents are just hoping a couple will spell “C.A.S.H.” (make that “BIG cash-out”) - This is of course, once their product(s) “Go Viral…”
And so many of u“Y\you-tubers,” (particularly) the older viewers will be “fooled-again” – having, (in anemic mental-lapses) forgotten the “Anthem of YOUR Youth: “We Won’t Be Fooled Again” (Who?); and, all those “smashing guitars” instead of “Smashing ‘those damn’ Pumpkins” (now Geriatric!)…
All BECAUSE “U” don’t have the “dog-damn” SOFTWARE that I just have to throw in the garbage! (I made a resolve NOT to swear lately, I don’t want to break my will just yet) – nothing against “dog’s really! – Though I am sort-of “one of those cat-guys”…
Please don’t message my email, I LOVE animals with four-legs and some with two. (It’s spiders and insects with multiple legs that have been giving me the creeps lately, but then I live in a “real FOREST”…
It came in MARCH: The last “music equipment purchaseI knew I was going to be able to make for quite sometime unless, - MY CD goes “Viral” - (highly unlikely as I don’t own a Video camera or even a digital camera) It will be tough to get on U-Tube or even MySpace Music with my “old-fashioned music-making way” (and so MUCH profitless Work – not to mention that! – Unpaid labor, hardly worth it) - but that’s aside the point:
In March (as I said), I bought with my last savings, a $100 desktop “plastic” 2-octave Midi Controller” keyboard (2 octaves means that it only has 25 black & white piano-looking keys) and along with that came (from this “kraut” company) the: “Virtual Music Starter Desktop Composing Package” complete with 50 of the “Latest” Digital Virtual Sounds and Samples that I thought my music was lacking(?!) – Or perhaps, I had a series of moments of “faithless” self-doubt and collapse of my initial musical resolve formed so long ago in those many long hours and days behind “My Old Black & White”…
But again, I digress:
So although the keyboard will be minimally useful at my computer desktop for editing and notation work, those wonderfully and cleverly named (and they really are!) modern sound samples have yet to be able to even be tested out with this “rat-like” maze of a software package! “They” (the Kraut company) sent me for my $100 apparently a bunch of “demo-software” that ‘They” (the Krauts) never even paid for – unfortunately you can’t do much with it! - If only after loading the .dll files I could hear the damn things on a reliable basis. But yes, I do like the names: i.e. “Delay Lama”, B-Asault, AManalogWar, etc – endlessly creative really!
So when I finally got a few to sound after much frustration the musical use was questionable, (for me I mean); unless you are purposely avoiding any musical references. But most of all, there was this “ambience of artificiality about them all” – This is the “so called musical world” we are abandoning our youth to, (I philosophically reflected, as I endlessly clicked and re-clicked the samples with my mouse trying to get them to sound). “This is a world where a real guitar or piano is mostly a “prop” –
Somehow every sound seemed to me the equivalent of “those frozen-processed entrees”
Once in a while, a nice touch to a busy life and schedule; eat them regularly and “disease” is sure to get deeply-rooted with time.
OK so I’m not too fond of today’s musical sound palette, but it’s not just that:
The “composing software and the music software” that is the foundation of so much of the rock and pop that even comes out of the big studios today is not something that “miffs me” (believe me, I AM NOT that “old fashioned” I just like old 40’s movies!)
I understand it only too well: way back in the 1980’s when many of today’s young artists where still their “daddy’s sperm” just beginning that long swim up their “mother’s canal”, I spent untold hours hunched over then “modern synthesizers” creating such effects and sounds; BUT by myself, with only the good old tech manual and use of dials, filters, oscillators… and so forth.
Today’s gig>>>NOT that it’s easy to learn any of these music softwares (it actually isn’t), BUT where and what is the SOUND SOURCE? It is NOT YOU, (and definitely NOT “U Soul”) but those engineers’ wills that you are manipulating. Those fellas (whoever they are, probably pretty young) who put the package together. Every sound in the package is an artificial “clip” or a downloaded segment already pre-formatted, including all the beats. (And have you noticed just how much of today’s hits are only beats with “singing” and that’s it! Singing is sometimes missing as well!)
You no longer compose music (especially from “your musical soul”) you download and merge the “pre-found” clips and beats included in the package. A “Souless” and “Joyless” process in my opinion BUT not necessarily an instant, easy one.
The “Result”? Everything you create has this “virtual stamp” on it and sounds like every other “voice in the box”.
True, you shape it but hardly worth the learning curve to me.
As (the) PINK FLOYD predicted way back in 1974 with their song: “Welcome to the Machine” ) from the album: “Wish You Were Here” the machine is now as a voice and its soul is in the “box” even if you try to musically think “outside the box”…And believe me: I LOVED MY PINK FLOYD… and English bands in particular. Their foresight is now come to pass (meaning: it is now true in reality what was fantasy in their lyrics)…
“Welcome to the Digital Soul”
So from the “soul-less” world of contemporary modern Desktop Composing, I now fondly bid you adieu…
I and “my lonely soul” like a musical “Henry Thoreau” at some far-away “Walden” on a frontier from the “modern world” return to my “Digital Piano” that at least has 88 “real-action” keys and perhaps later tonight to “MY OLD BLACK & WHITE” (still resting peacefully in my kitchen foyer).
I played the theme to my song: “My Old Black & White” on it the other day, she sounded pretty good considering “she” hasn’t been tuned since my then 86-year-old, piano tuner died (I think in 2002) “She” was last tuned on Sept. 11th 2002 I think…
My old black and white, Greets me with silence, every night.
And whenever I walk through that door;
She’s been my friend now since ‘74
She’s still my old black & white
And though her keys no longer shine so bright,
She’s kept me company (through) many a lonely night.
She’s still my old black & white
But, I now play the “real music” of “MySoul” on my digital grand piano as I have to record it. So tonight I am working on the theme from my new “old” piano improvisations on an “old” Appalachian Mountain Song, called: “The Old Apple Tree.” I actually composed this tune, (without any “desktop computer software”) years ago based on a study and fondness I had for “old southern country folk tunes.” It is my own tune but inspired by those older songs that still live in the voices and throats of some of Appalachia’s old country musicians… and of course occasionally appear in artists like “Mary Chapin Carpenter” and those blues and bluegrass musicians of “Rounder Records” and other country labels not in today’s limelight anymore.
But the piano music I did on it was recorded in the studio on 7/19/2008 here in Ocala and it IS an inspired take and will probably be used for my upcoming CD. It has a nice folky but NewAge flavor and actually uses real instruments like a piano, although I admit it was a digitally sampled one (I can’t afford a Real Grand Piano yet!)
You’ll like it when and if you buy my new CD, “IN MEMORY ONLY” coming out this fall, dedicated to “my greatest generation parents” and on which there will probably NOT be any of my synthesizer music BUT I may slip in a few jazz tracks.
AND, Yes that pic above is me in 1984, (though I AM still the same weight and have long hair, my face is a little more weathered.) Why do I publish this portrait?
I posed for this picture the day of a concert I played for over 35 people in a log cabin, called “The Music Shed” in Cummington Mass., A nice open-air mountain town of New England.
I was 30 then and I remember it as passing as briefly as a “summer day” in New England. The last year my body would be unmarred by “the needles of dialysis” and the ensuing struggle of the next twenty years of poverty and struggle to keep myself, faithful to my chosen goal and commitment: to learn to play a REAL PIANO.
So that day, long ago on JUNE 21, 1984; I got up on the little stage in the “music shed” and played that good old Grand Piano (one that unfortunately had weathered a few too many New England winters). Still, despite the fact that I was rather unknown, I played a full hour and a half of all my own compositions and improvisations to a very respectful and thoughtful “crowd” of listeners who thankfully, (I had the foresight to get slightly “relaxed”) on the Wine and beer I provided. They didn’t really clap at the end of every piece but I was given a rousing reception and told they enjoyed my concert very much.
I thought it was just the beginning of long and fruitful career doing this…
But I hadn’t seen my latest blood reports…
It was a glorious June Day in the New England mountains and I played a Grand Piano, very well indeed…
Thank you for reading… best, Michael “Guy” L’ecluse
PS: for those interested in my upcoming CD of keyboard and piano music and my now published CD entitled: August Ocean Overture; PLEASE see my recent AD “News” posting and click on my Bio for Links to my music…
LINK TO Hear Excerpts of every track from my CD: August Ocean Overture at CDbaby
HEAR PREVIEWS of tracks from AUGUST OCEAN OVERTURE at AMAZON.com and Download MP3s