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Posts Tagged ‘music

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”*…

 

5cb4e4cf-2aa0-4ea9-b13f-ee069ea497bf_cert_musicBusiness

 

I would like to begin this talk on the future of “popular” music with a few cautionary notes about our ability to see into the future clearly. The fact is, it would appear we are not very good at it. Somewhere back in our Savannah DNA, we got very good at reacting to danger when it presented itself — say a lion or tiger. However, it seems we are less capable of looking ahead to avoid danger. In other words, we are a reactive rather than proactive animal. The contemporary analogy in relation to climate change is that we are similar to the frog in a pot of hot water who does not have the sensors to recognize the increasing temperature and the fact that he should get out of the boiling pot.

Yes, there have been a handful of futurists – H.G Wells, Aldous Huxley, and given the state of many current governments I would grudgingly include Ayn Rand. Probably the most successful futurists in our lifetime may have been Marshall McLuhan and Stanley Kubrick, but even so, all of these writers and film makers have been only partially successful gazing into the crystal ball. Given that the past is no more fixed than the future I begin this conversation with you.

What I hope to discuss in this time with you is the relationship between technology, the gift of music and the commodification of that gift and how that gift and the commodification of the gift has been eroded in the digital age, and as I see it, could continue to be eroded well into the 21st century…

A provocative talk by Ian Tamblyn, a pillar of the Canadian music world, on popular music and its uncertain future: “A brief history of why artists are no longer making a living making music.”

TotH to friend CE.  Image above: source.

* Hunter S. Thompson

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As we pay the piper, we might recall that it was on this date in 1969 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono were married in the British Consul’s office in Gibraltar.  “We wanted to get married on a cross-channel ferry – that was the romantic part,” Lennon said in the Beatles Anthology documentary.  “We went to Southampton and then we couldn’t get on because she wasn’t English, and she couldn’t get the day visa to go across. They said, ‘Anyway, you can’t get married. The Captain’s not allowed to do it any more.'”

John and Yoko source

 

Written by LW

March 20, 2019 at 1:01 am

“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”*…

 

Lyrics

 

From Glenn Macdonald (in his capacity as Spotify’s genre taxonomist– or as he put’s it “mechanic of the spiritual compases of erratic discovery robots that run on love”)

This is a mapping of genres to words, and words to genres, using words that are used distinctively in the titles of songs. A genre’s words are ranked by how disproportionately they appear in that genre’s songs’ titles compared to all songs. A word’s genres are ranked by the position of that word in each genre’s word list. 1525 genres and 4712 words qualify.

Visit “Genres in Their Own Words”  And while you’re there, explore the genre map and the other nifty resources at Glenn’s site, Every Noise At Once.

* Bob Dylan

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As we slip on the headphones, we might spare a thought for Sir George Henry Martin; he died on this date in 2016.  A record producer, arranger, composer, conductor, audio engineer, and musician, Martin began his career as a producer of comedy and novelty records in the early 1950s, working with Peter SellersSpike Milligan, and Bernard Cribbins, among others.  In 1962, while working at EMI/Parlophone, Martin was so impressed by Brian Epstein’s enthusiasm, that he agreed to record the Beatles before seeing or hearing them (and despite the fact that they’d been turned down by Decca).

Martin went on to produce 23 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 19 of which were by The Beatles.  Indeed, Paul McCartney referred to Martin as “the fifth Beatle.”  He also produced chart topping hits for McCartney (“Say Say Say” with Michael Jackson and “Ebony and Ivory” with Stevie Wonder), Elton John (“Candle in the Wind”) and America (“Sister Golden Hair”).

220px-Beatles_and_George_Martin_in_studio_1966

George Harrison, Paul McCartney, George Martin, and John Lennon in the studio in 1966

 

Written by LW

March 8, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Turn left at Greenland”*…

 

 

FSA photos

 

After a series of setbacks in the courts that repealed many of the First New Deal’s program, President Roosevelt pursued a new set of initiatives including the Resettlement Administration in 1935. It was charged with aiding the poorest third of farmers displaced by the depression and particularly focused on resettlement on viable lands and providing low-interest loans. Directed by Rexford Tugwell, a Columbia University economist, the RA came under immediate scrutiny. Realizing the battle for public opinion had begun, Tugwell hired his former student Roy Stryker to lead the Historic Section within the Information Division of the RA, which in 1937 was moved to the FSA.

In order to build support for and justify government programs, the Historical Section set out to document America, often at her most vulnerable, and the successful administration of relief service. The Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) produced some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression and World War II and included photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein who shaped the visual culture of the era both in its moment and in American memory. Unit photographers were sent across the country. The negatives were sent to Washington, DC. The growing collection came to be known as “The File.” With the United State’s entry into WWII, the unit moved into the Office of War Information and the collection became known as the FSA-OWI File…

Now, from Yale, a web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing 90,000 of those 170,000 photographs created by the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) from 1935 to 1945: Programmer.

* Ringo Starr, in response to the question “How do you find America?,” asked in a Beatles press conference on the first U.S. tour

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As we look and see, we might recall that it was on this date in 1931 that Cab Calloway recorded “Minnie the Moocher,” the first jazz record to sell one million copies and the song that cemented the popularity of “scat” singing (which had been first popularized in 1926 by Louis Armstrong’s “Heebie Jeebies.”)

 

“Rock and roll is here to stay”*…

 

HardRockPark

 

Hard Rock Park, a 50-acre rock music-themed amusement park just outside Myrtle Beach in South Carolina… billed as the world’s first rock and roll theme park, opened its gates to the public in the spring of 2008. One of the first things visitors saw when they walked through the gates was a giant electric guitar—rising 90 feet over the park’s central lagoon, the statue loomed into view as park-goers strolled past the bell towers of the entry plaza, modeled after the buildings in the cover art of Hotel California. If they looked down as they approached the water, they would realize they were standing on the frets of another guitar, set into the pavement.

The Gibson statue was iconic, but it wasn’t the park’s largest structure. That was Led Zeppelin The Ride: a roughly 150-foot tall rollercoaster designed in partnership with the band and synced to its 1969 hit, “Whole Lotta Love.” Riders boarded inside a life-sized airship, and speakers blasted the song’s breakdown as they were cranked up the lift hill; the iconic guitar riff kicked in as the train hurtled out of the first loop.

Across the water, a huge mural beckoned visitors into a Moody Blues-themed dark ride called Nights in White Satin: The Trip, designed to evoke a multisensory psychedelic experience. The adjacent concert arenas hosted artists like the Eagles, Kid Rock, and Charlie Daniels; after sunset, the lagoon erupted into a nightly fountain and firework extravaganza choreographed to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Lasers shot from the head of the guitar statue during Brian May’s solo, before a sparkler-covered kite was towed around the water during the song’s final bars…

Hard Rock Park closed after just five months, amid the 2008 financial crisis.  Learn its (fascinating) story and take a stroll through what remains at “The Spectacular Failure of the World’s Only Hard Rock Theme Park.”

* Neil Young

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As we wave our lighters, we might recall that it was on this date in 2010 that Gordon Lightfoot (one of the fathers of folk-pop and “Canada’s greatest songwriter”), driving himself home from a visit to his dentist, heard on the radio that he had died.  “It seems like a bit of a hoax or something,” the then-71-year-old singer said at the time. “I was quite surprised to hear it myself.”

(As it happened, then-CTV journalist David Akin had posted on Twitter and Facebook a rumor that he’d heard that Lightfoot had died… without qualifying that it was a rumor.)

220px-GordonLightfoot_Interlochen source

 

Written by LW

February 18, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Full Metal Jacket”*…

 

metal jacket

Heavy metal is a vast and complex subculture, with supremely elitist followers and heavily codified attire, impenetrable to those outside of its fanbase. As heavy metal’s influence continues to spread throughout culture, from Justin Bieber’s Purpose Tour imitation of Pentagram’s logo to Tommy Genesis wearing Toxic Holocaust merch,  Melchior Tersen’s timely and impressive book, Killing Technology [here], documents the frontline of its symbolism: patches and patch jackets, DIY garments that fans build up themselves, sometimes over many years. Patches are bought at festivals, on merch tables at gigs and from record shops and online distros. Sites like T-Shirt Slayer exist both to trade in rare items and, more importantly, to show off collections of rare items. The breadth of the genre is overwhelming, but most true metal fans would be able to size you up immediately by the patches you wear on your jacket…

metallica

Metal style was a fashion in the 90s. Now we are in an era that’s more based on reblogging than pure avant-garde creation.  Still, metal visuals fascinate a public that’s not necessarily into metal as music. A consideration of the form– and more photos– at Paper Journal‘s interview with Tersen: “Killing Technology.”

* (the title of a Stanley Kubrick film)

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As we get loud, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958 that Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” become that first single to enter the U.K. pop charts at #!.  The record (the B-side “treat Me Nice”) would stayed on top for three weeks.

220px-jailhouse_rock source

 

 

Written by LW

January 25, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is”*…

 

FreqPlot_beer_and_truck

I’ve started working on a textual analysis of popular country music.

More specifically, I scraped Ranker.com for a list of the top female and male country artists of the last 100 years and used my python wrapper for the Genius API to download the lyrics to each song by every artist on the list. After my script ran for about six hours I was left with the lyrics to 12,446 songs by 83 artists stored in a 105 MB JSON file. As a bit of an outsider to the world of country music, I was curious whether some of the preconceived notions I had about the genre were true.

Some pertinent questions:

Which artist mentions trucks in their songs most often?

Does an artist’s affinity for trucks predict any other features? Their gender for example? Or their favorite drink?

How has the genre’s vocabulary changed over time?

Of all the artists, whose language is most diverse? Whose is most repetitive?…

John W. Miller dives deeply into Country lyrics: “Trucks and Beer.”

* Willie Nelson

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As we parse the pain, we might recall that it was on this date in 1970 that Loretta Lynn’s epic “Coal Miner’s Daughter” hit #1 on the Billboard Country chart.  It mentions neither truck nor beer.

 

Written by LW

December 19, 2018 at 1:01 am

“To suffer the penalty of too much haste, which is too little speed”*…

 

Johann-Sebastian-Bach

Pop and rap aren’t the only two genres speeding up in tempo in the breakneck music-streaming era: The quickening of pace seems to be affecting even the oldest forms of the art. Per research this weekend from two record labels, classical music performances of J.S. Bach have also gotten faster, speeding up as much as 30 percent in the last half century…

The fascinating details– and a hypothesis as to what’s going on– at “Even Classical Music Is Getting Faster These Days.”

*Plato

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As we pick up the pace, we might wish a harmonious Happy Birthday to Aaron Copland; the composer, writer, teacher, and conductor was born on this date in 1900.  Known to his peers and critics as “the Dean of American Composers,” his signature open, slowly-changing harmonies– e.g., in “Appalachian Spring“–  are typical of what many consider the sound of American music, evoking the vast American landscape and pioneer spirit.

220px-Aaron_Copland_1970 source

 

Written by LW

November 14, 2018 at 1:01 am

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