Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Three reasons why people hate music, and why they're doing it wrong.

Subtitle - FLAME ME

Of course, always remember that these are my opinions. I believe in them myself, but they are still mine, and I don't necessarily believe that they should be yours. But I still think I have a point.

We've all heard these before, probably when telling somebody about your new (or long time) favourite band, or when getting to know somebody and the conversation turns to music.

However, they're all doing it wrong. This may be a long post...

I don't like it/them because:

"All they do is scream/shout/yell/etc"

As a fan of metal music I hear this a lot. Fans of hardcore, punk, post rock, even some emo, may also hear this a lot.

I guess on the most part, some people don't dig the aggression, and I have no problem with that. People like music for different moods, and some people don't really want to listen to anger all the time.

So why is it on this list? Its the people who think that they shout/scream/yell/etc because they cant sing or that they have no talent.

Its a common misconception that just yelling or growling into a microphone over noisy music is inherently easy to do and a result of lazy technique. This is ONLY true of those amateur bands where the singer yells really loud, causes the microphone to feedback, and then sounds awful for the rest of the set because he's damaged his voice box.

Getting a good screaming sound is very hard to do. And getting a good screaming sound that DOESN'T destroy your vocal chords and which you can sustain for a whole set takes a LOT of practise, discipline, focus and technique. I guess its hard to appreciate this if you're not a vocalist yourself, but take my word for it. These people work hard to be able to yell over that noise.

"All their songs sound the same"

This is usually said with a very dismissive, haughty "I'm better than you" tone of voice. And its true, for every band. In fact, the better the band is, the more true it is.

In fact, you probably like your favourite band so much because all their songs sound the same.

So why is it a bad thing? Hell, why is it a good thing?!

Well, its viewed as a bad thing because it implies a lack of creativity. And trust me, there are bands whose albums sound like the most dull repetition of the first 2 tracks over and over again. It implies that the band are a one hit wonder.

So why is it a good thing?

I always have 3 words I say to anybody who says things like "It all sounds the same" or even musicians who say "Every song uses the same chords".

Twelve Bar Blues.

If there was a world record for the chord progression most repeated and overused, the good old 12 bar would take it. People are still using it today, in new and innovative bands.

Every chord progression is the same. They're all tropes, they're all cliches, and they remain that way because they work.

Some people are surprised when I say that the chord progression for 99% of punk rock/pop songs today is exactly the same as the chord progression for 99% of the most epic film music you ever heard. Sounds unlikely? Try it. Its just that the punk pop band sped it up and put drums to it.

Anyway, I digress. Why is it a good thing for all your songs to sound the same?

Prog fans will disagree, and thats ok. I'm a prog fan too. I know that theres only 15 people in the whole world who listen to prog. Thereabouts. Prog doesn't sound the same, and thats because its prog. However, good prog still has some continuity and consistency to it. It still sounds the same.

How many more contradictions can I pile into this blog post? I'm talking about music. Its rife with contradictions. Bear with me.

How many classic artists are timeless because you can hear the first 5 seconds of any song and know its them? You instantly recognise that its them. Sometimes its a song off an album you haven't got yet, and you ask "Is this xxxx?". You know that because it sounds exactly like them.

Hell, maybe it sounds like all their other songs. You recognised it as them, right?

The best artists in history have all defined their "sound". Rage Against The Machine are a great example. Tool are probably the best example. KoRn, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Led Zepplin, Jimi Hendrix. The list goes on. Artists and bands like these have their own sound. You recognise them when you hear the first few seconds of the song.

And they have their own sound because all their songs sound the same.

"They sold out/are sellouts/are manufactured garbage"

I'm not saying that the X factor/American Idol garbage is amazing music that we should all appreciate. Most of the stuff on the radio is garbage.

But not all of it.

My argument here is with people who won't even listen to something because of the fact that it might have some sort of commercial association. And by listen, I don't mean background music. I don't mean listening to 10 seconds and making a decision. I mean LISTENING.

See, I have a lot of music in my library that people laugh at me for having. I got to a point where I'm not ashamed to have it. Its music, and when I put it on my speakers vibrate the air, these oscillations reach my ear and my brain converts it into signals and I like it.

Whether the music is manufactured, over produced, autotuned, sold out or played on the radio doesn't change this fact. If those vibrations in the air please me, then I will listen and enjoy.

Sadly, for a lot of people this process is different. As soon as they get the inkling that the band has sold out behind the scenes, they haven't written all the music themselves or that they're making a lot of money, an invisible wall goes up around their eardrums, and this wall turns every potentially good vibration into pure hate and disgust.

You know the people I'm talking about. I'm one of them. You are too.

I used to do this for everything that wasn't metal when I was 16. Then I reached a point where I realised something.

I realised that I love music. I love it a lot. And I want lots of it to listen to, so that I could just listen to music all day and never run out of music. And I realised that I was refusing to listen to lots and lots and lots of music for no real reason.

So my invisible barrier went down. I gave anything and everything a shot. Even if I didn't like it, I listened to it - really listened to it - and at least tried to see why other people liked it.

And I'm happier now. My music library is twice as big as it could have ever been, and its filled with all manner of wondrous music. And people say things like:

"You know they don't write any of those songs"

None of the performers at the opera wrote those songs. Elvis didn't write any songs. Does it mean that the songs aren't good? If you think it does, you're doing it wrong. I'm listening to a song, doesn't matter who wrote it, if its a good song then its a good song.

"The Lyrics are awful!"

Be that as it may, if they're written a beautiful cacophony of noise underneath it then I can forgive them that. Music is made of many, many elements, and I don't believe that you should dismiss an entire song just because one of those elements isn't up to par.

"They were just a one hit wonder"

Yes. But damn that hit was a good one.

The list goes on. One case in point that embodies everything here is t.A.T.u. Yes, the famous faux-lesbian video stunt people. I have all three of their albums.

Don't worry, I'll give you a minute whilst you laugh it off. You've probably closed the page and won't visit this blog again because my opinion is worthless now. Well, you're doing it wrong too.

You see, if you actually listen to t.A.T.u, they have a very talented team of songwriters, arrangers and producers behind the scenes. Its these people I'm a fan of. Sure, they have two half-decent girly singers as a pretty face and a voice. But as far as electronic music goes, they have some seriously overlooked talent writing for them. But 90% of non-russians won't ever get that far, because all they hear is a publicity stunt and two songs that were played to death on MTV.

Anyway, this post has been long enough. I'll do more later.

As usual, discussion is welcome. Flaming is not. Type in english please.

Keep loving music,

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