Posts Tagged ‘music appreciation


Escaping boring music

  It’s funny how different types of music can either excite us or bore us. There are so many different facets to appreciating music, so many reasons why we appreciate music and a lot of the time it’s not just the music, it’s the image and the associations and the lyrics etc…

That’s why I’m skeptical about music ‘scientists’ trying to find a formula for why some music is ‘good’ and other music is ‘not good’. Music appreciation is more than just listening to a bunch of notes and ‘aural vibration’, more than just ‘the C chord’ followed by the ‘F chord’ with a nice melody thrown in.

That’s kind of what punk rock proved back in the 70’s -anyone can pick up a guitar, any kid can join a band and rock out. And they became popular not so much for their musicianship but they clicked with their audience. In fact, rather than the puncy rock stars who became separated from their audience, they were part of their audience.

And that’s important for youth -searching for your identity and people you can connect with. I was from the ‘grunge’ generation but personally I connected more with Jimi Hendrix and the 70’s punk bands, and kids today still get into Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

But now as I’m well into my thirties I’m searching for new types of music, such as traditional Asian music. That’s a completely different appreciation -I don’t have any relationship with the musicians as such because I don’t know who they are, but I relate to the music from living in Asia and getting into things like Taichi.

Since I like songwriting I find I’ve got to keep exploring music to find inspiration, whether it’s bebop jazz, 80’s pop, hiphop, post-rock, Taiwanese indie bands etc…There’s so much out there to explore and learn, and I think it’s important to have an open mind.

Besides, rock just gets boring after a while. Unless the songwriting is good or they’re exploring interesting harmonies or bringing in an outside influences, most rock bands are boring. Especially commercial rock where they churn out the same safe melodies -they’ll be catchy for 15 minutes then thrown on the waste-pile of wannabe hits.


Cynical in the age of digital recommendations

This idea of the possibility that computers can analyse or take in certain input data of that last few decades of hits and then use that to determine whether new songs are hits or duds leaves me a little doubtful.

Isn’t one major part of art all about the search for something new and different? If you rely on computer-analysed data to determine a ‘hit’ song, it’s going be limited by the previous input of the past which surely can only produce something that will sound generic and done to death.

That’s why when we describe hit music as a kind of ‘formula’, it’s got a negative connotation. Like the Stock, Aitken and Waterman hits of the 80’s. OK, they did sell, but they don’t carry the same credibility as bands/artists that write from the heart, not from formula.

Isn’t what we look for in artists and their song things like inspiration, honesty, courage and the vision for something new and insightful? Will computers, based on past hits and music be able to recognise such qualities?


Searching music online…

2:24 pm

As a fan of music, it’s overwhelming how many bands and artists can come at you these days. It’s crazy. And it seems to be one of the biggest problems at the moment.
Piracy may seem like a problem -that probably is for established acts who sold in the millions when everyone was buying CDs. But for the majority of musicians it’s the monumental task of helping music fans and consumers connect with the artists and types of music they want.
This is what I’m reading and picking up from books like “Net, Blogs and Rock’n’Roll” and music industry bloggers -but I’m experiencing it more acutely. Particularly because I’m fussy about my music, and it’s often not genre based. I once came out of a CD store that had a sale with Groove Amada, 2Pac and Ice House -that raised an eyebrow from the shopkeeper.
But aren’t most music fans like that? By the time we’re into our twenties, anyway, because we’ve been through several stages perhaps -the pop stage in early teens, then classic rock, or punk, then emo, then maybe some form of metal, or hiphop, then 80’s pop, then singer-songwriter -then if you play an instrument you probably dabble in a bit of jazz or fusion etc… Because for many of us music is about exploration.
But the net has opened up so much choice -it’s both good and bad. I know there are some bands and artists out there that just suit me to a tea, but how do I find them? And it seems like every day, I mean literally every day, there are bands and artists coming at me both online and in the mainstream media that I’ve never heard of before, but journalists etc are telling me I’ve got to check out.
It’s a big world out there, and any band in any city that builds a following into the hundreds of thousands will be talked about -but the net allows them all to be talked about and it’s too much to absorb.
But is there an answer to it? Harking back to the old days of MTV, the problem was they had so much control to dictate our tastes -Do we want a monster like that? iTunes is handy for buying music from all kinds of artists and genres, but I wouldn’t want them dictating what I should buy -because then it’s back to the lowest common denominator, like Britney Spears and boy bands etc…
The way I’m coping is I write down any bands/artists I read about in the media that seem to be up my alley in a list throughout the week, then I’ll check them out (on Myspace, Youtube etc) and see if they’re what I might get into. The problem is, it’s often hard to say after one listen, and I can easily collect over ten bands in a week.
My theory is, for most music fans, they’ll become fans of particular artists because a) their friends are into it, then b) they see the band/artist at a gig or festival, and get into them from the experience. c) would be some form of radio -but these days it’s more like they would have to chose which radio -online or traditional etc… and that’s more up to the individual and perhaps whether they drive a car to work.


Comparing 2009 to 69

Interesting article I originally found in the Sydney Morning Herald, but the link led me here:

It gives the stats on the top sellers in music for these years with the observation of how dominant pop is. But the whole media environment has changed and it seems to be like comparing apples with oranges. The ‘top sellers’ mean less these days because people choose their own music and don’t have to follow the trends. This kind of pop seems almost irrelevent, like the remainders for those who just have no taste in music. If you aren’t particular about the food you eat, a big mac will do. It’s probably the world’s most eaten food item, but so what? It still sucks.


New Rock n Roll

Il4 searching music on internet


What is the new ‘rock n roll’? For me, I feel it’s anything that’s not shoved in your face by the music industry establishment. The net and social networking has empowered us to be more proactive and choosy about our tastes in music and I guess there are pro’s and cons to that.


I might’ve mentioned I’m going through a mini-crisis as to what music I’m getting into in my mid-30’s.  On the one hand CD stores are closing down with discount sales of all the standards from the past 40 years, and on the other the internet and new media are opening up such a vast array of new (but often mediocre) music it’s overwhelming. And I’m not helping either as a struggling muso putting in his own two-pence of original music.


It’s hard. And it’s not about genre anymore, because in whatever genre on the net you can find thousands and thousands to search through in that particular category. Who has the time to do that? I think the bottom line is we’re going to get into music that impacts us personally -a band we see down the pub, a bunch of CD’s we borrow off a friend or family member and perhaps via people we connect with online. Depending on circumstance radio will still play a role but it doesn’t have to play a dominant role.


There’s been many a time I get online thinking ‘I hope I can find something I’ve never heard of before, music that I can really get into’, but I end up getting swamped, bogged down and overwhelmed. I feel I’m at an age where I don’t know what I want, or that I’m just not going to be passionate and emotionally involved with music the way I was in my teens and twenties. (Most of my peers are focused on having kids, paying mortgages and listening to talk-back radio). I did discover Lar ‘en ciel, the Japanese band, via Youtube, but they’ve been a big band for decades -like the Japanese ‘Cure’ or ‘U2’.


Maybe that’s why we seem to be in the age of the reunion and comeback tour. You hear every old band from the 70’s up to the 90’s reforming and getting back on the road, because it’s easy for generation-Xers like me to get excited about the bands we grew up on.


Ironically, if the new ‘rock n roll’ is really Myspace, Facebook, ipod and Twitter, then I feel the 30 somethings are participating just as much as the gen-Yers. Some older people seem to think these things just belong to high-school kids and they’re all living in their own world with their own ‘texting’ language posting dodgy photos and comments on Myspace, and twittering to thousands of their friends about whose parent’s house they can meet up en masse and trash, but I believe it’s revolutionizing things on a far greater scale. I mean, if Kevin Rudd is twittering…


Next round

I’m going to start a new serious of music and songwriting appreciation with albums that I’ve bought in the past but for some reason or another, I just haven’t got into. There are a lot of great bands -Stereophonics, Dave Matthew’s Band, Fishbone etc as well as some singers like Alicia Keys and Norah Jones that I hope to gain a new bout of fullfilled appreciation from. First up will Incubus’ “A Crow Left of the Murder”.


Taste in music is personal…

There are many bands and artists that I feel I should be into, who are obviously great songwriters and musicians, who have achieved great success and repect in the music industry, but for some reason didn’t click for me. And this has brought me to the realisation of just how personal our tastes in music are and that they don’t just vary from genre to genre or category to category, but between artists and bands themselves. In the 90’s I was into Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but for the life of me I couldn’t get into Stone Temple Pilots after I rushed out to buy their album because it was a “must have”. They had great songs etc…, but for some reason it just didn’t click for me.

The same happened with The Dave Matthews Band, REM, Incubus, Sarah Mclachlan and several others. I purposely bought their albums because I considered my self a “serious muso” and therefore, I must be into these bands like other “serious musos”. But alas, there was no connect made, no passion fostered, and after a few listens, they’ve stayed on my shelf collecting dust. That’s no to say things can change. I may put one of the CD’s on one day and it suddenly hits me or there’s something about it that sparks an interest -the mix, certain  melodies I previously missed, the quality of the voice, the feel of the rhythm and bass working together, who knows? Our tastes change, we evolve and mature.

Who says music appreciation even has to be bassed on a logical factor -even personality, image and attitude can either appeal or repel a potential fan. And sometimes there’s peer pressure to be “into” a band or scene because everyone else is, or you can feel like a “serious muso” like I wanted to…