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Austin City Limits - Decemberist

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by JoeJoeMan, Oct 13, 2007.

  1. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    The Decemberist appeared on Austin City Limits the other night.

    If their performance wasn't proof enough that R&R/Pop music has run it's course I don't know what is.
    Pop music has turned into a scene where any kid down the street with a guitar, who is barely able to find a pitch let alone keep time qualifies as an act, well you know it's over. Even the stage antics are painfully predictable.
    Maybe it's just me but "music" by it's very definition implies that you can do it in time and somewhat in pitch, and for elevation to anything out of the ordinary that you do it with some degree of talent.
    If R&R had started out with what is reguarded as talent today I should say that it would never had gotten off the ground.
    The distant in talent between the likes of Elvis, The Beatles or even Roy Orbison verses Decemberist is so great as to be unfathomable.
    As hard as it is to imagine the masses continue to eat it up.
    But then again maybe I'm just expecting to much to actually expect somebody to know how to do something at least fairlywell before climbing on a stage.
    Sorry to be such a critic, but if I can just turn one young person's head around and realize what junk they are being feed well I guess my time was well spent.
  2. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    If you want to see what "music" is all about try and watch all three hours of the Sir George Martin's BBC series on the "Rhythm of Life" it is a very eye and ear opening experience. It is usually on a local PBS station or on the Ovation cable network about once a month. I watched it last night and was overwhelmed by the interviews and the depth of the program.

    Today music is not what it was about 20 to 30 years ago. It is all about NOW. As you said people can barely play their instruments they can't sing on pitch they don't know how to properly tune their instruments and they think that by doing something really goofy on stage like dropping their pants and mooning the audience will get them noticed.

    Listen to music from the Police, Genesis, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel, Paul Simon and any other number of real musicians and then compare that to what passes for music today and you will be shocked. Back in the good olde days they knew how to write a song, perform the song and sell the song with the lyrics and a rememberable theme that you could not get out of your head. Today IMHO it is all about volume and who is the loudest not who is the best.

    I hope this is just a phase and good listenable music will return some day.

    If you want to hear some really well played well recorded music pick up a copy of the Wailin' Jennys Firecracker album and prepare to be amazed.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    While I agree that current music has a lot of problems, I don't think the problem is with the people that don't have technical ability. I think the main problem is the way that people with TONS of technical ability are being used. Pop music is being is bing turned out by rigid recipes that make the production of Kentucky Fried Chicken look like a masterpiece of culinary improvisation. All of this is being aided by studio musicians who are better than John, Paul, George, and Ringo ever dreamed of being.

    The problem isn't the lack of technique - it's the lack of any freshness - any sense of inspiration. When I express my boredom any of the 35 flavors of metal currently being played, I hear, "You're old, you don't understand." Problem is that I'm old and I DO understand. It's the same stuff that I played back in 1973.

    I worry that with the huge access that the internet gives us to all kinds of music that people will lose any sense of discovery and newness about music. Remember the story of the Beatles putting the 6th chord at the end of "She Loves You" and George Martin saying that it was corny - too Andrews Sisters. Well to the Beatles (and the people who bought the record) it sounded fresh and new. They had REdiscovered it, but it didn't matter. With the internet and 500 cable channels, is that kind of thing going to be possible in the future?
  4. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    Thanks guys for the feedback and confirmation on my thoughts. I was hoping that my thoughts wouldn't be taken as just angry disgruntled bashing of a pop group. But more of a critique on pop music as it exist today.
    In a sense I feel sorry for the youth of today, in that they are being feed all this stuff. There is so much more to music than the cheap stage antics, mindless melodies and excessive fuzzy guitars, just to name a few not so redeeming qualities of today's music.
    I believe that music as in any art form is a reflection of the human spirit in that it reflects our collective ability to use our senses (sight,hearing,etc) to interpret and use the world around us to make things that don't normally exist in that world, and that inspires awe, wonder and entertainment. And how well we do all that is a measure of our intelligence and how far we have come as a species. When we as a people, the general population that is, starts losing its ability to collectivly recognize the finer elements in art, well it's an indication of where we are and are headed. In place of intelligence and sophisdication to enjoy music it degenerates into cheap tricks, instant gratification, self indulgence and the like.
    Well so much for philosophy, I just wish/hope the youth can get past this mess we've wrought on them.......R&R was a slippery slope just like the 'great' generation told us it would be.....great music yes, no doubt when it stared out, but it did have the ablity to slip and slide and degenerate into what it has become today and drag the minds of the youth down along with it. Let's hope they can recover, not for our sake, we'll be dead and gone, but for their own sake.
  5. [To begin with, I mean none of this with disrespect. I love Roy Orbison and am slightly anal about intonation in my own pursuits.]

    It's easy to see that a market of 12-tone music where everyone performs at pitch and metronomic perfection will get tiresome to some. The misconception that everyone wants to hear vocalists "hit notes" is an antiseptic way to look at music as an art. Our most untrained of senses desire what's emotive, and using off/blue/bad notes, shouting, and speaking can be an effective way to convey a feeling that singing tonically cannot.

    While the market is currently lousy (i.e. oversaturated) with bands The Decemberists--of whom I am not a fan, should this all sound like a defense--represent, it feels like a time for rebuilding our thoughts on what's acceptible in commercial music. I agree with what BobRogers said: what's artistic about a rock-by-numbers way of writing and producing music, which puts most emphasis on making a product accessible? This to me is much more threatening than artists who may or may not put entire emphasis on becoming virtuosic over their instruments and voices.

    I know musical art and visual art, much as some may disagree, are not completely analogous, but the picture may fit here: not many people today would protest a painter who uses more than 12 colors, or one who doesn't paint everything entirely to scale. Maybe these are gifted because they were never capable of creating as their peers did.
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Well-Known Member

    I worked in a Conservatory of Music. Lots of the composition faculty wanted their students to write music that was non melodic or very Avant-garde coupled with some very non traditional ways of of performing it. It was interesting to see and hear what they could come up with but many of the other professors and staff referred to their music as "whistle fart" music because that is exactly what some said it sounded like.

    I would go to concerts that had mixed classical and electronic music on the same program (mostly student recitals) and more than half the audience would get up and leave as soon as the electronic stuff was played. The same thing happened when an Avant-garde piece was played.

    Many people today think classical music is passé. Many people love classical music. Many people will listen to heavy metal and think it sounds GREAT but would not go to a classical concert if their lives depended on it! I would be willing to be that both of those groups (the ones that like classical and the metal heads) would be the first ones that would walk out on an electronic music or Avant-garde concert just because it was something different than they wanted to listen to.

    People today are very tied into "THEIR" music and don't really like to just listen to music but only what they consider to be the REAL STUFF.

    Being a mastering engineer I get to hear everything from Bach to Rock and find all music interesting and most is worth listening to. My interns find my CD collection very eclectic and can't believe that I listen to the wide variety of music that is represented in my CD collection. I have everything from Gregorian Chants to New Age to heavy metal. I simply like music in all its forms and find that every variant has something to say to me. Music is all about communication between the player and the listener and if you can't get the communication going then you lose your intended audience. It is too bad that today that some people refuse to listen to certain music because it is not their "thing".
  7. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    Bethel Wrote:
    Good Point - we are all creatures of habit, aren't we !

    To address another point brought up - speaking for myself I'm not really looking or suggesting that an artist needs to be a virtuoso or have perfect pitch, as the poster specified alot of great music comes without such virtue. And I agree. But I think that an artist does owe his/her audience a certain amount of proficiency, it seem that the audiences of today are so ready to pour on aduration and worship to any person that happens to find themself on stage for whatever reason. To me alot of current pop just sounds like the kid down the street who isn't really very good at what he does, nor took the time to be so, or was even in the least bit heavenly gifted, but just happened to put on the right look and image and got lucky in the business for whatever reason.
    It seems to me that it is the gulibitily and low standards of the audience more so making the star rather than the talent of the performer.
  8. MediaMurder

    MediaMurder Guest

    Try this one on for size, The Beatles are the Decemberists of their time.
  9. Let's not conclude that because an artist doesn't sing scales, that he or she isn't proficient. Calculating fractions requires a great deal more skill than rounding to the nearest whole.
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Too snug around the waist. (But then I have a lot of cloths like that.)

    If you are saying that forty years from now there will be Decemberist tribute bands, Decemberist cover albums, etc....well....good luck. If you are saying that the Beatles were not classically trained vocalists and not virtuosi on their instruments, you may have a point. However, they were very experienced pop entertainers. They had been a cover band playing hundreds of songs for up to eight hours a day in Hamburg. They did that for a couple of years. We've all talked about the problems of live music today. Bands have a tough time getting forty hours of live performance a year, let alone in a week. They had to learn cover tunes by listening to records and picking them apart note-by-note. No TABs in Guitar Player. No instructional DVDs. No music teachers trained at Berkelee. Altogether a very different and to my mind more rigorous training.
  11. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Nobody is going to remember most of these type of bands 5 years after they stop making music. There will be no Decemberists Muzak, and orchestras throughout the world will not be playing tributes to them.

    Whatever the Beatles were as far as musicians (and I dare you to play the majority of McCartneys' bass lines accurately), they had a feeling for the pulse of the world that to this day, has not diminished. All the songs, both trite and serious, were crafted with an abilty that we've not yet seen again.....and YES, they will be played to your greatgreatgreatgreat grandchildren....much like Mozart and Bach and Beethoven continue to be played today.

    And whatever the state of the music is today, and whether or not you like it or agree with the direction, or whether it makes you ill, THANK GOD we have music and are able to approach it with whatever take we wish.

    Freedom is like that..........no?
  12. cathode_ray

    cathode_ray Active Member

    This is a GREAT thread...
    Some points;
    Art and Product must not be confused - thought they may overlap.
    Most people consume/buy product - because they identify with it. Hence the constant "re-invention" of music.
    Art is timeless - for those that can can grasp it. Most confuse product(what they like right now!) with art.
    Art is best appreciated in it's social context. The Beatles were as good a group of communicators as ever was - they didn't need to be classicly trained. Neither do the Decemberists.

    If they "have something to say"(please take that phrase very figuratively...) OK. The art part comes in when you asses the proficiency you use to convey it. Most artist go through a journeyman's phase of learning the techniques. And it's that process that seperates the artists from the crowd.

    Artiste's that say technique gets in the way of they're expression are self-deluding(not to mention self-agrandising). And Artiste's that criticize non-classicly trained musicians are no less self-delusional in they may miss the true inspiration some of us are lucky enough to have.

    "It ain't easy. If it was everybody would do it..." anon
  13. cathode_ray

    cathode_ray Active Member

    I value my opinion so highly....

    I posted it twice!
  14. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    patrick wrote:
    I agree, if one knows anything about 'natural' pitch, they are quite aware of that. But my point is that some musicians just don't have the stuff to hit notes whether it be right on or slightly off for the affect.

    Sure musicians can become famous for anything, whether they can hit a note or not, so to say. But there is such a thing as musical ability (proficiency), some may argue that, but just let some smoe get up on stage with them that can't keep time and bring havoc to their performance and watch how fast they run'em off the stage. All of a sudden ability is an issue.
    I guess my point is that there was a time when musical ability was what got you on the stage. Today, and I think most would agree, it's so much more about image, the 'message', the 'feeling' (whatever that means)....if you get my drift. And my 2 cents is saying that that is to bad because the youth is losing its appreciation of music, which is really to bad for the musicians....
    OK, you're a musician, you work you butt off, get your act together, then go look for a gig, but they hire the kid down the street, who really can't play but, jumps around alot, has lots of cool tatoos, but basically sucks, measured by any standard you or anyone chooses to pick......So then you're wondering why did I bother, musical ablity doesn't matter, so what's the point of practicing, what's the point of have a guitar in tune, what's the point of building a good instrument, what's the point of producing a quality record.....so the guy who is really willing to push the limits of ability is pushed aside for schtick, well the art form is what really suffers.....he could have been the next BB King, Billy Joel, not only does he suffer but the audience does to in the end. Course the audience doesn't really care or know the difference, which part of my point.
    So I guess, yes, you can call anything art, some art just takes more ability than others, and the less ability it takes the more people can do it, until you lower the bar far enough to call everyone an artist, and when everyone is an artist then no one is and so much for that art form.....now apply that notion on a sliding scale....and my point is that that scale is in a downward direction, and fairly close to the bottom, in terms of pop music. Yes as someone said it is "Product"....not "Art" and I guess, yes, I'm fine with that, so lets not pour any intellect onto "Product" its just that "Product" like a, well, a Big Mac..... Pop music Big Mac, Decemberist...it's all the same.....and I could go on with an analogy but I'm sure you are already thinking of them. :lol:
  15. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    OK, you're a musician, you work you butt off, get your act together, then go look for a gig, but they hire the kid down the street, who really can't play but, jumps around alot, has lots of cool tatoos, but basically sucks, measured by any standard you or anyone chooses to pick......So then you're wondering why did I bother, musical ablity doesn't matter, so what's the point of practicing, what's the point of have a guitar in tune, what's the point of building a good instrument, what's the point of producing a quality record.....so the guy who is really willing to push the limits of ability is pushed aside for schtick, well the art form is what really suffers.....he could have been the next BB King, Billy Joel, not only does he suffer but the audience does to in the end. Course the audience doesn't really care or know the difference, which part of my point.[/quote]

    The guy "who's really willing to push the limits of ability" had better be prepared for the heartbreak of this business. It aint no rocket surgery but it takes some real heart to weather the ups and downs. And yeah...theres a lot of truth in the fact that there are those who make it who dont have a musical clue about whats what....But they still work hard at whatever it is they do. You'll NEVER make it without the effort. NEVER.

    Thats not just in music but in all aspects of business. Most of the business heirarchy is a fraud...its all about who you know and all that. I cant tell you how many times I have been passed over for positions that I was the MOST qualified and a perfect fit for by others who were simply in a bit deeper with the boss. Never made me less than what I am.

    The only prisoners in the music business are those that have made it without talent.

    ART is a perception of talent by the beholder.

    Comparing one type of ART to another is like trying the light switch over and over again while knowing the bulb is burned out.

    Appreciation of ART is what makes us more human than animal.

    The ability to appreciate any type of art we choose to is what makes us FREE.
  16. JoeJoeMan

    JoeJoeMan Guest

    I gotta' agree with ya' Davedog.............But...you know there was a 'but' coming so but...anyway

    I went to see a group the other nite, with two really fine players who had toured nationaly and did that kinda' thing....and who was there?, ah a couple folks, at least it was quite and made for good listen....some friends suggest we head over to another joint and catch another local act doing basically the same type music or more like trying to do it.....I was reluctant having seen them before, they're really not very good, especially in comparison to what we were already listening too, but anyway so we head down, and the joint is packed....why......well for all the reason we've been talking about...the right pants, the cute chick singer, dah dah dah.....hey it's all cool and that's what it's about ....but in the end the audience is losing out and the good players get more discourage by the day, not that they are gonna quite, like you say...but............we (the audience) just make it tougher on them.
  17. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Nothing really new with these complaints

    Iris Mountbatten: Well, he told me that he'd been to see these young men in a dark cellar.
    Narrator: Yes.
    Iris Mountbatten: He was always very interested in young men.
    Narrator: Oh, yes.
    Iris Mountbatten: Youth clubs, Boy Scouts, that sort of thing.
    Narrator: Yes.
    Iris Mountbatten: But these, he said, were different.
    Narrator: In what way?
    Iris Mountbatten: Their hair, and... their presence... and their music...
    Narrator: He liked it?
    Iris Mountbatten: No, he hated it.
    Narrator: What did he like?
    Iris Mountbatten: Well, em... the trousers.
    Narrator: What about their trousers?
    Iris Mountbatten: Well, they were, eh, they were very, em... tight.

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