Thursday, January 06, 2005

Musings, how to use this blog, other musical URLs of possible interest..

There is this theory of art criticism that discusses the 'intentional fallacy'. What this says in a nutshell is "what the artist meant to say don't mean squat. What he/she ended up conveying is what is meaningful". This refers more to 'fine art' one prequisite for this being (as near as I can tell) that the artist be dead but that the work outlives the historical/cultural context and also the audience for which it was created.

As far as this particular theory is concerned, music is mostly not real art. It is "amusement art" where various base sensory devices are employed to provide an ephemeral stimulation-- it is fries and a shake compared to the elegant textured cuisine and rare aged wine of "fine art".

So all of that is ok by me. It is the rare individual who can dive down to the core of human being-ness, surface to the rest of us and somehow exhale that essential universality so that it might touch us and generations of us to come. People who play most music nowadays should not liken themselves to these extremely rare and usually highly tragic conduits of sacred knowledge. On the other hand, it's not exactly chopped liver to come up with songs that people like out of nothing and perform them well, and on the other other hand, it's definitely "craft", such that it is formulaic to a degree.

The music discussed here is done for fun. It's done for expression, for amusement, for exploration, for challenge and for experimentation. You have to take yourself a little seriously, to provide some direction to what become your artifacts, but you're not painting freakin' Starry Night fer cryin' out loud.

Ok, so how to use this blog: it's about how one musician, genre "electronica", recorded and released an independently produced CD.

So start at the start and read thru. Also, here are some blanks filled in:

The music is largely improvised, then honed (or not-- see what you think, you can have a listen at this site where you can stream and/or download MP3s.

The improvisation occurs using loops, programmed drum machine, guitar melodies, keyboard melodies, vocal melodies and also effects. A few measures at a time might be built from beat through bassline to chords or melodies up to embellishments, like a single square slice of lasagne, or it might be built a layer at a time over the whole time of the song, like a whole pan of lasagne.

I play guitar and love to jam with a good live drummer. Drums are difficult to record well, it must be really nice to be the kind of a recording artist that can afford to have a skilled engineer set up mic'ed drums in a studio and be able to jam with the drummer to come up with a song. Drum loops are well recorded drums, midi drum machines can be used to trigger good drum samples, and midi drum machines can sound good as themselves also. Computer recording coupled with these loops and samples makes it, if not simple, very not difficult when compared to what you have to do in the studio to get a good sound.

So maybe you ask how much different is that from one of those synthesizers with the speakers that you can get for $200 and press the 'Rock Pattern #4' drum button and then some other buttons that fill in chords? Aren't you closer to doing that than being in a band that plays originals?"

Well, in terms of the mechanics of the activity in question, yes, you are: you are not meticulously, intently and passionately fingering an instrument that has taken you years to learn in concert with other musicians following the song plan of your mutual design.

But in terms of the process, no you aren't: you are being both something less and something more than a band that plays originals if you have the flow of what you're doing right, you are improvising on multiple instruments at once in lockstep, not preset patterns but actual totally original musical phrases along with some other more familiar riffs that can provide grounding and context. And because you are using a computer to do this, you are creating a high quality digital recording at the same time, you can go back and refine it. Also, because you are doing it on your own you can really stretch and bend and flow,incorporate instrumental sounds, found sounds and theoretical sounds that would not be possible otherwise: because the system is 'taking notes' for you, you don't need to remember how you got to where you are in the composition, you just need to go where it leads you.

So it's more than a little fun and interesting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, really, can't any idiot do what you're doing-- you just need some software and a computer, right?

11:21 PM  
Blogger Utenzil said...

Not only can any idiot do it, but they are.

11:22 PM  

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