Author Topic: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.  (Read 2785 times)

Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #30 on: November 17, 2011, 10:51:03 AM »
For me, it's the melodies and the harmonies, and just the general warm feeling I get from the music. It hits me on an emotional level, which most music doesn't do to that degree. I mean, it's nothing music if you don't like it, but that can be applied to any music if you look at it like that.

Yes, can't argue with that! It's all about where the music hits you, for whatever reason. I think maybe it's called having a different taste in music!

Oh, and for those keeping track, the "Chris Martin Plumbing" van has gone now...

NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #31 on: November 17, 2011, 10:52:35 AM »
While I agree with that as it applies to the artists under discussion, for me personally music doesn't always have to contain things that are new.  I certainly agree that as an art music should have a pioneering vanguard that keep moving forward, progressing and evolving the form.  I like the idea that it's there, I just don't always want to listen to it, and if I find a 'new' single that's evocative of a 1960s girl group or that sounds just like The Band I'm not going to dismiss it out of hand for its retro influences.

"New" for me is the most exciting element a piece of music can possess; hearing something the likes of which you've never heard before. Any other other discussion about how "well-crafted" or other such bollocks really doesn't cut the mustard in comparison.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #32 on: November 17, 2011, 10:55:47 AM »
Quote
Mostly all new music draws heavily on the (recent) past. It's something that is difficult to surmount at this point in time, as there aren't any virgin fields to go sowing, as there have been in decades past. No radical new instruments or social structures.

Mostly all new music 50 years ago did that as well. It's always the minority that creates something different.

Collage/field recording/sample based music is continually putting novel combinations of sounds together. Lots of pop music, even though I don't like it, does different things and is produced in a different way to 90s, and to 80s. I actually think that we have eventually ended up with a 21st century 'style' when it comes to mainstream pop production, not necessarily for the good, but definitely 'new'.

It's rock music that's in a rut. All sub-genres of.

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #33 on: November 17, 2011, 11:01:53 AM »
Quote from: NoSleep
"New" for me is the most exciting element a piece of music can possess; hearing something the likes of which you've never heard before. Any other other discussion about how "well-crafted" or other such bollocks really doesn't cut the mustard in comparison.

Entirely fair enough, but then that's something personal to you.  I'm not sure if any of the music that I like ever had the excitement of the 'new' associated with it - even the stuff I like from years ago.  Maybe a few bits and bobs - Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, early hip-hop, Dylan going electric, Chic, some NYC punk, etc. 

But when I look at some of my all-time favourite bits of music (say - Exile On Main St or Dusty In Memphis or Pet Sounds) I'm not sure if theye were at the cutting edge of anything when they were released.  Perhaps they refined previous innovations but I don't think any of them tore up any rulebooks - you could still level 'well-crafted' at them and mean it as a compliment.

NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #34 on: November 17, 2011, 11:06:10 AM »
Mostly all new music 50 years ago did that as well. It's always the minority that creates something different.

Collage/field recording/sample based music is continually putting novel combinations of sounds together. Lots of pop music, even though I don't like it, does different things and is produced in a different way to 90s, and to 80s.

It's rock music that's in a rut. All sub-genres of.

"Novel" isn't pioneering. It's all cut and paste; pop eating itself.
Mostly, for the last 50 years, music has coasted in the popular field, drawing on the real innovations of people like Charlie Christian (playing an electric guitar as an electric guitar, rather than as an acoustic guitar writ large), Les Paul (multitrack recording and the solid body electric guitar), Raymond Scott (electronic music) Pierre Henri & Pierre Schaeffer (looping and sampling, turntablism; all back in the late 40s), Elvis (opening up black R&B music to a young, white mass audience), Mitch Miller (creating [pop] music in the studio that was impossible on a stage). It's diminishing returns from thereon but there was plenty of potential new ground set up by those above (and, of course, there are others; they were off the top of my head).

Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #35 on: November 17, 2011, 11:07:15 AM »
I agree that it's exciting to hear something that sounds totally new, however it's only really exciting the first time you hear it (or until it stops sounding fresh). For me, The Smiths got the balance right because they genuinely sounded fresh (Marr's guitar sound borrowed from the past, of course but coupled with Moz's vocals/lyrics it was something totally new) and also had great melodies, dynamics, etc.

I'd actually be interested to hear how someone who has never heard music before, constructs a song if they were put in a room with every instrument. I think that could sound like something unique as it wouldn't be influenced by years of hearing the usual verse/chorus/verse, basic chords, guitar, bass, drums, etc. Or it might sound like terrible shit, I dunno.

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #36 on: November 17, 2011, 11:13:35 AM »
Isn't that pretty much how ESG started?

NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #37 on: November 17, 2011, 11:13:48 AM »
I'd actually be interested to hear how someone who has never heard music before, constructs a song if they were put in a room with every instrument. I think that could sound like something unique as it wouldn't be influenced by years of hearing the usual verse/chorus/verse, basic chords, guitar, bass, drums, etc. Or it might sound like terrible shit, I dunno.

I'm sure they'd heard tons of music before starting to create music themselves (principally as the soundtrack for their own films), but The Residents pretty much started from nil knowledge about how to play and it turned out to be a fruitful venture musically and in terms of originality.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #38 on: November 17, 2011, 11:29:39 AM »
Exactly- making new music is about combinations, not ground-breaking changes in how sound is produced.

Currently rock/indie music has the dullest overly-trodden, and stubborn combinations.


NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #39 on: November 17, 2011, 01:29:54 PM »
I don't know how "exactly" comes into a description of The Residents, given the unusual concept of the band; out on a limb.

I can't think of anything more boring than most bands' idea of "new" and the dull "combinations" that get accolades from lazy journalists, nevermind pinpointing "rock/indie". My original point stands; there is scant new ground to break. For me the most interesting music to find (i.e., new to me) is to rake through the history of recorded music for pioneers I've not yet heard. There's always something exciting about hearing "firsts" in all their embryonic glory. Others always come along and try to "clean up" in the name of "improving" on those raw original attempts, and their hallmark is always being the less interesting in comparison.

I'm not sure that the pioneering mindset is attracted to the field of music anymore. There's probably greater potential for challenges in other fields today.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #40 on: November 17, 2011, 01:40:59 PM »
New music baffles you = you are getting old.

I could have phrased it better.

New music doesn't sound as interesting to you = You're just getting older.

By 'New' I meant 'contemporary'. I'm always finding new electronic artists that interest me but most modern indie/rock does nothing really. In terms of rock/indie most of my 'discoveries' are past masters and people I'd written off because I wanted to look cool.


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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #41 on: November 17, 2011, 03:28:11 PM »
I'd actually be interested to hear how someone who has never heard music before, constructs a song if they were put in a room with every instrument. I think that could sound like something unique as it wouldn't be influenced by years of hearing the usual verse/chorus/verse, basic chords, guitar, bass, drums, etc. Or it might sound like terrible shit, I dunno.

That seems to pretty much describe The Shaggs (not using every instrument, obviously):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR9d4ESlpHY

NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #42 on: November 17, 2011, 03:47:50 PM »
Without commercial pressures, I'm sure the usual structures for songs (verses, chorus etc) would have been sidelined long ago. The most challenging music of the last 100 years has challenged exactly that. But the music industry likes something that can be repeated or reproduced consistently, as this is saleable. Too much pressure on music to "perform well" from a business point of view. It didn't stop some of the less trepid, thankfully.
But the emergence of pop sidelined what might have been the main event of the 20th century. The average pop record is still the the same length as the medium of the single side of a 7" vinyl record and the song is essentially a jingle to advertise itself. This brought about in the wake of advertisers (on commercial radio in the US) complaining about the music content of radio stations. People like Mitch Miller made records that these advertisers would only be too pleased to hear alongside their advertising jingles and modern "pop" was born. So much great music just wouldn't fit the bill.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #43 on: November 17, 2011, 04:02:05 PM »
Hmmm...I think you're overlooking the lasting popularity of simple, demotic songs with the general public. 

Music that is instant, memorable, reproducible and portable isn't just a by-product of the record industry - it's the music that people have chosen to listen to and perform themselves for hundreds of years - the street songs, folk music, nursery rhymes, hymns, broadsides and ballads that - more formal classical music aside - was Northern European music for centuries prior to the advent of the music industry.

If anything, developments in the 20th century have facilitated the recording/capture of more improvisatory, difficult and experimental music.  That's something that exists alongside the pop industry - I'm not sure if one has hampered the other or whether they've just naturally evolved in tandem, with some curious interactions borne of the symbiosis between the two approaches.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2011, 04:14:02 PM »
Hmmm...I think you're overlooking the lasting popularity of simple, demotic songs with the general public.

I think you're overlooking just how much our music is shaped by technology. This short lecture by David Byrne on that subject is worth a look:

http://www.ted.com/talks/david_byrne_how_architecture_helped_music_evolve.html

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #45 on: November 17, 2011, 04:19:27 PM »
Sorry - can't watch that just now, but if by 'architecture' he's referring to how choral music evolved to be performed in churches and things like that, then, yes, fair enough.

Not sure how that effects, for example, the continuing popularity of the Christmas Carols we'll be hearing from here until Boxing Day.  Technology probably has had an effect somewhere down the line - pipe organs and suchlike - but I'm unsure if the pop music industry/American radio sponsorship deals has had much of an influence.

Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #46 on: November 17, 2011, 04:23:13 PM »
I love Fleet Foxes, and so do a lot of other people.

No, you don't. You're just pretending to like it because it's not cool.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #47 on: November 17, 2011, 04:29:28 PM »
Sorry - can't watch that just now, but if by 'architecture' he's referring to how choral music evolved to be performed in churches and things like that, then, yes, fair enough.

Yes, that and more. I recommend it as one of the more illuminating 16 minutes about music you could watch.

Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #48 on: November 17, 2011, 04:32:08 PM »
That seems to pretty much describe The Shaggs (not using every instrument, obviously):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XR9d4ESlpHY

Interesting, and kind of how I imagined music played by people who haven't been influenced by typical conventions would sound. It has an odd charm and I'd certainly give the album a listen, but not something I'd want to listen to regularly.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #49 on: November 17, 2011, 04:33:43 PM »
Quote
I can't think of anything more boring than most bands' idea of "new" and the dull "combinations" that get accolades from lazy journalists

Neither can I. But they aren't a big factor in my life or a conversation about new music.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2011, 05:16:12 PM by Shoulders?-Stomach! »

Johnny Yesno

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #50 on: November 17, 2011, 04:36:14 PM »
Interesting, and kind of how I imagined music played by people who haven't been influenced by typical conventions would sound. It has an odd charm and I'd certainly give the album a listen, but not something I'd want to listen to regularly.

It does have a surprising charm, doesn't it? I know what you mean about regular listening, yet I now find myself humming their stuff to myself. I didn't even think I'd even be able to remember it when I first heard it.

BTW there's an interesting interview with The Shaggs by Jon Ronson here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lhfKJauQV4

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #51 on: November 17, 2011, 05:06:31 PM »
My final year at Uni, I played the Shaggs album more than any other piece of music. "Pardon me boy, pardon me man, was you with my girl last night?" That shit is etched into my mind.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #52 on: November 17, 2011, 05:14:40 PM »
Lumping Fleet Foxes in with Mumford & Sons may be convenient shorthand as they play 'real' instruments and strive after a certain type of sepia-tinged folksiness, but they're poles apart both in terms of content and talent.

Completely agreed, I thoroughly dislike Mumford & Sons apart from one song (which incidentally is mostly because it reminds me of Christmas during my first year of uni) whereas I think Fleet Foxes are a bit better. The thing with bands like FF and Bon Iver is that I other find them pleasant and ethereal to listen to but they often don't particularly hold my attention. FANTASTIC background music. I listen to them when I study.

NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #53 on: November 17, 2011, 05:36:25 PM »
Hmmm...I think you're overlooking the lasting popularity of simple, demotic songs with the general public.

AKA what is on offer to the general public via the music & media industry. Thanks to the internet this yields diminishing returns. Let Simon Cowell have his Christmas No 1; nobody cares.

Quote
Music that is instant, memorable, reproducible and portable isn't just a by-product of the record industry - it's the music that people have chosen to listen to and perform themselves for hundreds of years - the street songs, folk music, nursery rhymes, hymns, broadsides and ballads that - more formal classical music aside - was Northern European music for centuries prior to the advent of the music industry.

It would be hard to measure what may have been lost along the way; that which wasn't reproducable or written down in some form. What you say is self-fulfilling, analogous to the evidence we have of the stone age, i.e. stone tools and bones and lots of questions about all the stuff that rotted or decayed away. You have only to look at other cultures where music doesn't follow the pattern of the song to see that there may have been other forms in Europe. There is certainly a (folk) style of dance music from France that relies on a degree of repetition over a lengthy period with the musicians building the intensity for much longer than 3 minutes of a 7" single, and there were improvisatory styles of medieval music (noted in Derek Bailey's TV series On The Edge: Improvisation In Music). The last 250 years or so sees the advent of the publishing company (Purcell had a publisher, for example, and got ripped off by them, too), and so I think we're into the realms of the commercial model I was speaking of when talking about this period in Europe.

Quote
If anything, developments in the 20th century have facilitated the recording/capture of more improvisatory, difficult and experimental music.  That's something that exists alongside the pop industry - I'm not sure if one has hampered the other or whether they've just naturally evolved in tandem, with some curious interactions borne of the symbiosis between the two approaches.

Improvisation isn't a recent discovery, it's the prime source of almost all music (aside from a few deadly serialists). The recording industry wasn't built on the idea of anything other than making loads of money. As we've discussed in other threads, the record industry thrived via their access to the manufacture of the finished product; even small independent labels could only exist as an appendage of this larger business structure.
Of course, artists who depend heavily on improvisation have availed themselves of the recording medium, noting as they do that this is in contradiction to the nature of what they do (they're never "going for the one"), but it might lead to some more work further along.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #54 on: November 17, 2011, 05:43:27 PM »
Improvisation isn't a recent discovery

Absolutely. It's the development of the score and of recording that has allowed music to become more fixed.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #55 on: November 17, 2011, 06:01:10 PM »
Sorry - no time this evening to respond at length to your points, most of which I agree with, but I still think you're missing out on the importance of oral tradition here.  I wasn't thinking of Simon Cowell when I talked of 'simple, demotic songs' - the images I actually had in mind were things like my mother singing me songs like Green Grow The Rashes, O when I was a child or the small boy singing 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' through Scrooge's keyhole in 1843.

Furthermore, I'm aware that improv isn't a new concept.

Johnny Yesno

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #56 on: November 17, 2011, 06:44:02 PM »
Sorry - no time this evening to respond at length to your points, most of which I agree with, but I still think you're missing out on the importance of oral tradition here.  I wasn't thinking of Simon Cowell when I talked of 'simple, demotic songs' - the images I actually had in mind were things like my mother singing me songs like Green Grow The Rashes, O when I was a child or the small boy singing 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' through Scrooge's keyhole in 1843.

Sure, technology isn't the only influence on music making, but it shapes the sonic palette we have to work with and affects things like song length.

Music that has been passed on by oral tradition is subject to the limitations of vocal cord 'technology'. Vocal music tends not to be written with awkward jumps between the pitches, not for the sake of taste but for the sake of performance. Christmas carols especially so. They are popular, not just because they touch some popular aesthetic, but because you don't need to be a virtuoso singer to perform them.

Quote
Furthermore, I'm aware that improv isn't a new concept.

It's more than that, though. It's the origin of music making. Technology has allowed us to move away from this and become more prescriptive and make music more fixed rather than less, as you suggested.

NoSleep

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #57 on: November 17, 2011, 06:49:41 PM »
I mentioned Simon Cowell because what he does somehow validates the music described in the thread title (and a deal more than that) as some kind of alternative whereas it actually follows all the same structures as "all that" to a greater degree than it differs. I mean (for example) Rage Against The Machine aren't essentially very far (and fucking Nirvana even less) from the stuff Simon Cowell promotes. In the spectrum of (all) music they would be sitting next to one another.

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Re: "Boring" music, adult-contemporary, etc.
« Reply #58 on: November 17, 2011, 06:52:53 PM »
Thanks to my suggestibility and reading this thread I now have 'O tidings of Mumford & Sons, Mumford & Sons...' going round my head.