(A few notes on the current state of my music making, mostly to put my thoughts in order but of course you're invited to read in case there's someone out there.)
Sometimes I feel like I'm a tool, a "transmitter" for all those songs who want to be born into the world. This would explain how a rare delicate creature like me, against all odds, has made it to his forties in the middle of this ugly rotten dumpster called human kind. I'm somehow kept around because "I'm useful" (from my human point of view it is called "motivation"). The day all of the songs have been put out there, are living their own life, I will be discarded like an empty pod.
If such poetic premises happen to be true, I have to hurry a bit more or I'm going to live 1,000 years or so... But I prefer to think about all the advance I've already made, something that we often tend to forget, always on to the next thing, the next moving goal.
My previous main hurdle was that I couldn't mix my songs, for not having the minimum equipment necessary to do it reliably, and incapable of providing myself it because I was living in the middle of nowhere, with tremendous material difficulties (think limited food and water supplies).
Now I'm in a new location where those problems are solved; I've already got myself the minimum reliable headphones I needed for mixing (yeah, I know what all those excellent luminaries that flood the internet say about mixing with headphones, but I don't have a stable place to put my stuff in, you see, so everything I have must be ultra-portable). Two songs are right now in the pipeline for mixing, and will be published at some point not very far in time (as long as I remember not to go too Frusciante on things). Circumstances are far from ideal, and as I discussed before my mixing fuse is short, but not a single day goes by without having some kind of advance, so I'm happy.
However, it seems that the amount of bullshit in the universe is constant, so solving the mixing problems has now been replaced by a different kind of challenge...
(OK, scrap that, let's put it in a different way: maybe the shitstorm I'm going through with my gear is layer after layer of karma accumulated during my first 20 years of life, when I didn't give a damn about gear. Solved that previous layer of karma with the headphones, now it's time to dissolve this one, and I'll reach a new level of stability -hopefully karma events are one-offs-, on to my True North goal of "launching one song a day, with punk-rock album quality".)
Here's the new hurdle: besides those two songs in mixing stage, there are other two where I have to record again one voice and one guitar track respectively. After that, they go to mixing, mastering, and the album is done.
But I've found that this new location where I'm now is like the Mecca of electromagnetic vibration. My two audio cards are USB powered, and I get whining USB vibration sounds in all tracks. I've tried a different laptop, and the result is the same.
I've researched devices that cancel USB vibration, and found two kinds: a) the cheap model, whose manufacturers warn that does not work in audio interfaces with preamps that take energy supply solely from the USB (my case exactly). b) the expensive ones, silly solution because they would cost more than my audio interfaces themselves, plus with ground loops it is always a shot in the dark; maybe I go through the whole irritating process of purchase and delivery only to find that nothing changes (and then I would have to go through the irritating process of refund, etc...)
Add to that that my laptop does not have Firewire ports (and it remains to be seen that Firewire would cancel the noises better), so the perspective of manning up and getting a better audio interface isn't viable, either; what's the point of higher audio quality if at the end of the road nothing assures me that I'm going to get rid of that damn USB buzzing that sends all takes to waste?
So I'm studying options, there are still a few more things I can try, although all are remedial solutions by now, and it depresses me not being able to reach the minimum stability I need to just go to what is the actual value creation part for me: singing my heart out, more expressive, more content, more and better energy. Anyways, I remember that saying of "act in every situation as if you had actually chosen it", and for example, this irritating phenomenon has taken me to the gates of my first, rudimentary knowledge of electronics, something that I've always wanted to know more about. The album will go out at some point, one way or another, and in the end once they are out not even you the author remember all the effort behind those dreamy snippets of 2-5 minutes. Sigh.
Here is one of the songs I've been making with the excellent Wikiloops community. In case you don't know how that site works, goes like this: someone posts a track, and then you put something on top of it and post it, then someone else adds something more...
In this case I added vocals + a guitar solo to an already very mature and well crafted song. Everything in this site has to be done on the go; as with speed dating, that's all the fun of it; things must run snappy... and that's one of the things I like best about it. It takes a lot of effort out of the process, it reminds you that it's gotta be FUN!, and gives you the constant reinforcement of stuff getting through the door every other day.
This one is perhaps the most elaborated of my collaborations there up to date, and took me ~7 days in total. To provide a contrast, some of my solo stuff can take me easily x50 times that! (Fortunately, things are changing on that regard, I think.)
Other thing that I enjoy about this site is that it forces you to "go places", to try things you wouldn't on your own; I would never have thought I would sing a song in the style of this one in a million years. I have other, for example, in which I found myself trying to emulate AC/DC's Brian Johnson style (although a few octaves below)...
Whenever I stumble upon an article or video on "how to market your music", "how to monetize your music" or the like, I listen attentively, but get very little in return. These are only my thoughts on the subject, and bear in mind that I'm mainly a musician (composer, performer); a guild not very famous for being coherent or well grounded (perhaps because, in a way, we are in the business of "having weird thoughts").
When speaking of "marketing music", the first thing we'd have to determine is if there's an actual "market" out there. From what I know, since we were convinced, at the final decade of the 20th century and first of the 21st, that everything had to be miniaturized and pass through the computer, music goods have become not only more "virtual", and cheaper if they are to be purchased (with no portion of that drop in expenses passed as profit to the musician, btw), but we've also moved to a culture where people has come to expect to get the music for free.
There are exceptions, of course; music still moves some money. You can always resort to sieg heil Google or sieg heil Apple and put your music in their "services", but that's a bit as if I cultivate pumpkins and specialize in selling them to Mormons or Amish, because I've found they are faithful consumers; I draw a line and make my distribution specialized; each of those services are like their own "cult", there is no longer the single, equalizing, big thing that you had with vinyl, CD or cassette, where you could manufacture, buy, and play your "music token" universally.
(And of course, none of those new services pay you more than peanuts.)
Then there's the streaming services like Spotify, which according to musicians whom I trust, pay fees beyond the insulting. The great "alibi" here is that they are great for "promotion", but I'm yet to hear of any band that has gone one step upper in the notoriety ladder because they became "a Spotify sensation". Additionally, besides the lack of monetary appeal, as a musician I have to refuse to join a service like that from an ethical point of view too, for the same reason I would refuse to buy say oranges from a producer whose practices I know ruin the soils and will leave us without oranges in a few years; musical services that do not support musicians look like a suicide to me, but I guess the problem has to do with the fact that they are 100% run by IT people, with no music people, and IT people deal in megas, to them a mega is just the same if it contains Led Zeppelin or Leonard Cohen or just some generic interchangeable crap; a mega is just a mega and it shows just the same in their statistics, costs analysis, etc.
Until here my 50,000ft, non expert overview on the state of affairs on music distribution, given only to illustrate that the notion of a "market" itself is quite shaky when we speak of "marketing your music". But my original motivation to write this post was discussing something else.
A usual recommendation that is given often to "marketing shy" people is: "imagine you had discovered a vaccine for back pain; wouldn't you want to benefit as many people with back pain as possible, by spreading the news on a huge scale and letting them know the vaccine exists? By not doing so, you're condemning them to their pain..."
This is a great motivator (think value), and very certain for a huge range of products (car solves mobility, a good chair solves fatigue, a plumber solves water flow...); however, when you try to translate the analogy to the world of music, you find it only works within limits.
Music is way more subjective than any of those other products. Some of the music I listen to sounds like a trash grinder for other people. Some of the music other people listen to sounds to me like an impossible to swallow 3 cubic kilometers of cotton candy. Even within the confinement of particular genres, which should be "secure", everybody has their pet peeves, go-to albums that nobody likes that much, or on the contrary, bands that everybody consider great but you just don't "get".
There's simply no "one size fits all" when it comes to music. I remember vividly the aftermath of the concerts I used to play with my band, where the feedback with the attendants was so direct. Some people came spontaneously to congratulate us for the concert, and you could see in their bright eyes they had had a fricking blast and were going to be turned on for hours, and they said things like "this is dynamite!", absolutely blown away. On the other extreme of the spectrum, I remember a couple of cases where I prudently had to skip the question "did you like the show"; to such extent their faces showed awkwardness, I would say even repugnance towards what they had just listened to and watched.
So this is not as simple as going to the middle of the "market" and shouting "Hey everybody! I'm extremely confident of what I do, so I'm here to tell you that this is the be-all-end-all of great music, it's gonna improve your mood, it's gonna reduce your blood pressure, it's gonna take your sex life to new heights and will also give you x-ray vision powers...!" (Marketing speech tends to be a bit hyperbolic).
This would be analogous to saying "¡Hey! ¡Apples are good for you! ¡Like the apples! ¡You hadn't realized the apples, you fool, but check them out, they're perfect!¡You need them!".
If a guy enjoys apples, no doubt, it will be a good thing to tell him. But he needs little convincing; he tends naturally to eat apples. On the other hand, if apples make him sick, there's little convincing you can do, no matter how much strain you put into the thing. And if, yet another option, you are trying to target people who is confused or dimwitted to the extent that you can convince them that they "like" or "dislike" something only through colors and verbal juggling, then your business model is based on taking advantage of other people's weakness, rather than on providing value; this is not only an immoral stance, but a very bad business strategy, as the ties you will create with those customers won't be too intense, especially considering that the parlor tricks you use will also be available for competitors who decide to play the same game.
So where does this leave us, what's the best thing to do? Not really sure. The only thing I'm positive about is that my relation with the people who like my music must be a direct one. No middleman. A guy sings and the other says "hey, I like this". In my case it has always been this way. In fact in a lot of cases that I know, that's how it works. Lots of bands whose names for sure you would recognize, suffered outrageous attacks in their beginnings from all kind of "experts". Those bands didn't care, they kept doing their thing, and more and more people said "I like this", and that's why we now have their music (and the experts now consider them "classics"). One guy plays and another one says "hey, I like this". The rest is background noise.
Perhaps the problem with all those "market your music" articles is that 1) they take for granted we live in a (social, economic) system that works. I disagree. We're living in swindleland, and sinking fast. And 2) they follow the very extended practice of "blaming the victim": to put the focus away from the fact that musicians have been robbed (great loss for musicians, but also for a society that needs them), the narrative gets changed to "You're not being smart enough, you have to make more efforts, etc..."; regarding this last point, of course it is true that musicians can and must learn about more areas and own more of their chain; the Leonardo Da Vinci model is always a good one to follow. But please don't tell me that the dices are not loaded. Please.
(I had this awful realization yesterday; given that my publishing schedule is weekly ("one post within each week"), in a way, if I only wrote yesterday's obituary, I would be using Vinnie's death as "material". So, to avoid such a horrible perspective, here's one more post this week. Let it also serve as a gesture of trying to overcome bad circumstances, just like he did to overcome his brother's death.)
In its latest iterations, my process of voice tracking has "grown" an additional element that is turning out to be, not only very useful quality-wise, but also perhaps the most amusing part of the whole cycle. I call it the "vocal prototype".
Its need became evident when, after some tracking sessions, I noticed something missing. Everything was well configured technique-wise, the parts of the process rolled one into the next smoothly; gear ready, check, vocals completely composed, check, lyrics completed and in an easy to handle format, check. Well rehearsed, check. And yet, there was something still lacking at the moment of pressing Record.
Each song is its own beast, and I've mentioned more than once that I see a strong similarity between singing and acting (at least the kind of music I do). In each song you impersonate a certain "mood" and "character" that can reach very nuanced extents, and sometimes getting those details right will make or break the performance. And that was the missing piece in the puzzle; my very standardized process allowed me to start recording quickly, but there was a personal factor to each song that I was missing.
Enter the vocal prototype. This part of the process is located right after the vocals are fully composed, and before the burdensome gear and parameters movements that prepare to start recording are executed.
In a similar way to what I do in the composition phase, in this part I just explore the song, taking out of the picture things like clipping, room echoes, pop filters, etc, and focusing instead on which "character" the song demands from me, how much chest, how much mouth and how much throat, how much proximity effect...
I take an excerpt of the song that I consider representative, loop it and sing over it with the microphone trying all kind of stuff, even stupid stuff, especially stupid stuff. The "prototype" is considered complete when I have those 10-20 seconds of music recorded where the voice sounds in the way I want it to sound in the complete recording, plus I have a series of ancillary notes to remember do this here, etc...
It's a playful, spaghetti-on-the walls stage, where I try all kind of stuff disorderly, and I'm constantly coming and going, standing, sitting, checking on the Internet how this or that can be done, or listening to other songs I want to mimic ("That one hit wonder of the 90's... How did they do that growl...?")
It sometimes takes a lot of work until you nail what you want (again, it depends on the song; sometimes the mood you aim for is precisely "I don't care a shit about this technical stuff", and those are quicker :) ), but like I say, it's fun work, and "externalizing" this part is a great idea that I'm happy of having had; the alternative, what I was doing before instead, was putting all the experimentation during the full-fledged recording mode, which has a lot of things to remember, and therefore benefits from getting there with everything as decided as possible: in, out, boom, your done...
My processes are constantly changing, but I thought I'd share this one because maybe it can be useful for someone else out there, and also, it's great fun...
This one has caught me completely off guard. I should know better by now, but I didn't expect that this soap opera called life could send such a shitty chapter. When I read the news, I had a first surrealistic instant when I thought "What is this shit? I better reboot the computer so this goes away. It's just not possible."
Pantera was once a "fashionable" band, and I have a feeling it has undergone the fate of things that are "fashionable"; at one point, they "go out of fashion", to leave room for the next shiny thing. And then you see people hating on them with the same virulence with which they used to love them just a few days before. That's how mobs act.
But in my case it works different. Pantera left a body of work that was great then and is great now, original and risky music that helps me through the day, music that for me is still alive and kicking (just yesterday, as I was jamming, I played some riffs from them). They were also part of my musical formation, I consider them one of my sensei (and for sure many other people do, although they probably won't admit it). So when some of the people who have made possible such a refuge, such a "safe place" dies, accordingly, you die a little too.
My sadness yesterday when I knew brought an instant association with that moment in 2004 when I read that Dimebag had been shot. What a terrible collection of misfortunes has this bunch endured.
I also enjoyed Damageplan and HellYeah ("Blood for blood" is an album I've listened to a lot); I was happy for Vinnie when some time after the tragedy he decided to resume his playing, protected by a gang of buddies (as he referred in the "Under the belt" documentary, his friends kinda made his life a "hell" until he said "yeah" :) ...) It felt sad and wrong that his work and his talent had to be interrupted by some loonie with a gun. Although of course anyone would understand; being in his shoes, having had to witness that...
But he was tough, and full of good humor like his brother, and just moved on. He was a drumming powerhouse and an original musician too, one of a kind, like Nick Menza, like Cozy Powell. Like them, he's passed too soon. Thank you for the music and the inspiration, Vinnie. In moments like this I'd like to believe in some heaven where you'll be now meeting your brother and rocking out together again until the neighbors protest...
Here's an excerpt from a recent interview with Ian Gillan from Deep Purple:
"So we [said], 'Let's call it [their latest tour] 'The Long Goodbye',' and that way, we can make our decision later. Now, the fact is that everyone's feeling great now, and we've all got over those health problems and everyone's in good shape. So I think we're gonna be looking at writing some more material next year and maybe even possibly another album."
Here's another from Brad Whitford from Aerosmith, on the decision of calling their latest tour 'Aero-Vederci':
"I don't actually feel like we're gonna be shutting the whole thing down at the end of it. I think there's a lot more life in the band. But I guess you've got to start somewhere. So we're just starting to put the farewell label on things."
Another reference worth noting for my purposes is Ozzy Osbourne, who being the "goofball of darkness" he is, has called his 'final tour' "No more tours 2" -with part 1 having happened more than 20 years ago-.
Do I see a pattern here? Three rock musicians who are way past their... ehm... twenties hint that they're quitting but then add that not really. In other place in the same Gillan's interview, he compares making music to breathing, and everybody who catches the musical "bug" will concur to that feeling. So there's no reason to quit as long as it keeps feeling good.
Then why did they announced a retirement in the first place? Is it that they cannot stick to their own decision, a workaholic kind of thing? There may be some of that in some cases, those musicians that just get out there and go through the movements because it's better than staying at home watching TV; but I want to believe that there is also something else, a change in climate, a different perspective on things.
As I defended in my previous post, rock music is connected to a way of life, a way of understanding reality and engaging with it. For example, I like the way its energy channels violence in creative, non harmful ways. Think of all those trash and death albums full of convoluted riffs and changes of tempo at neck breaking speed; I'm convinced if some of those guys hadn't had the chance of expressing all that complexity through music, they would have resorted to less beautiful devices to make the energy flow.
I see rock music a bit like those scenes where a guy slaps his friend, and the friend goes "thanks, I needed that!". The energy of rock music, for us who like it, is the same energy that makes hearts beat. The roughness of a mosh pit is taking to a playful level the violence and abuse that we all have to endure in constant doses, more or less disguised as "everyday life". Etc.
This view on life and things doesn't have to be exclusive of young people, although young people is perhaps more prone to "get" its charms, as young people tend to see things with extreme, blunt clarity (just as old people do; on both cases they are close to the mystery, ones because just came out of it, the others because are about to return to it).
This view can be carried through all the ages of your life, but, like I said in my previous post on the matter, it cannot be a "slogan". If you're going to stiffen yourself up with automatic ideas, there are other stereotypes that will serve you better than rock music.
Young age is usually expected to stir the pot, to revolt. A lot of good things can come from that abrasive insolence (like, perhaps 75% of the music I love). But if you survive that age, at one point "This sucks" stops being enough. It has to be complemented with some form of "This sucks, here's what we're going to try instead". And if you're really really wise, you will even add "and if that doesn't work, we'll try this other thing instead".
There's been a certain tendency to associate rock movements to youth exclusively. And there's certainly a base to do that if we consider the many examples, but I don't think the relation is exclusive. In fact this rock->young association is one of those crude simplifications that the laws of market are so fond of creating ("Young rebelliousness! Get your young rebelliousness here!"). But it isn't always that way.
Some rock musicians have been happy in their youth to associate themselves to this Apollo ideal. "Young" as a name rather than an adjective. I think for example of Motley Crüe. It must be way easier to sing "Girls, girls, girls" when you're 20 than when you're 50.
For others, however, this youth is only a "datum" they carry in their career, accepting -because there's no reason not to do it- the social perks it entails, but when it fades off there's hardly any consequence because the focus was always the music. I think for example in Neil Young.
And Neil Young is obviously a good example to mention here, not only because he is also way past his twenties and still active and making relevant music, but because he is such an example in many things; I love the way he has now joined Promise of the Real, a band of young musicians (whose members include Lukas Nelson, Willie Nelson's son). An intergenerational band has an additional richness to it, just like when you have bands with several genders (that's one thing I've always loved of Sonic Youth albums: the balance you get between male and female voices singing gives the whole thing an extra dimension...)
People like him (never saw a case where the name became destiny more clearly) and Leonard Cohen (publishing an album 19 days before passing away, and winning a Grammy for best rock performance at age 82!) are paving the road and opening new ways of thinking and feeling music. I'm confident that new cases will soon follow, as the old models no longer work, the shoe just doesn't fit anymore.
So let's stop copying the past and start innovating. I'm in my forties, and if one thing I know is that my forties experience has nothing to do with what being in your forties meant for my parent's generation. And this sentence has validity for any decade of human life you're reading from. The only clear fact is that in 5 years we all will be 5 years older. So let's revere the past, let's learn from it, but let's not do it in servile ways. Let's use it to do something new with it. "The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating." (John Schaar)
I've always been a big fan, and I was kind of curious to know what my fandom would evolve into now that Leonard Cohen is physically gone.
At first I was afraid (he would have hated it too) of turning him into "The name you know", someone who must be praised periodically in the name of loyalty, instead of just affection and plain recognition of talent. So I just let the whole thing go for a while. Just as it is the case in the loss of someone in your close circle of acquaintances, I guess the only thing possible after the initial trauma was a period of silence.
Then, in a natural, beautiful way, this or that song started to visit me; I felt like listening to them. "Hey, how about that "dynamic" melancholy of Boogie Street". "Hey, my heart will feel warm now if I go to listen Democracy". A bit like a good wine connoisseur can say "I feel like Bordeaux '87 today". Perks of being a fan.
After some time of those visitations, I stumbled upon a surprise, a Cohen album I didn't know! "Recent Songs". I started to listen to it and I have to say that, although it contains wonders as usual (the haunting "My Gypsy Wife" is my favorite), it's the record I've found most close to "generic" in Cohen's discography. As if, after the "massacre" of "Death of a Ladies' Man", he would have wanted to go back to form by making "the most Cohen album he could make"... As if he asked himself on purpose "What would Leonard Cohen do?" Nevertheless the bar with Cohen is always high, the album contains more music and more soul than the whole discography of many renowned musicians out there, and the fact that some of the songs were written way back in time conspires against my little theory...
In any case; after some time listening to "Recent Songs", I moved to "You Want It Darker", his final work. And what a record. I have a feeling that Leonard Cohen took his materials from the Unconscious, from intuition, and such intuition seemed to become bigger, more intense, almost supernatural, in the final 3 albums. The way he skips steps in sentences, the things he knows+knows how to express... In "You Want It Darker", it feels as if he was almost writing from the other side already, as peeking out of a window as in the image of the cover. And some of his sentences cut to the chase like blasts of consciousness. One that always gets me, in the title song: "There's a million candles burning for the help that never came". The way of the world, the cruelty of humans, the cruelty of a god, if it exists, who allows such darkness out of human freedom.
I've later known that Cohen was very learned, and since his youth, in the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust. It is never mentioned explicitly in his work, and discovering it gives me in my view a big key to understand his elegant sadness, and his irony that never intends to hurt others, it's more like a wondering aloud, a shrug of shoulders, or a prayer.
Here's a man who sang with splendid poetry to the women he loved, to the friends he knew, and to a wish of peace and unity among his fellow humans (the word "people" always has a particular strength when he sings it, and in some of his lyrics, like the verse I've mentioned above or the song "Nevermind", he adopts a collective point of view).
Can there be a better legacy to leave for an artist? As I learn more about him, and revisit more deeply his work, my admiration just grows and grows. So look at me Leonard, one more time... which will not be the last.
Here's a problem they will never have at Toyota:
"What? You want me to build a Prius? Again? I can't, I just built one, so it's going to take a while until I even remotely understand what a Prius is anymore; I need some time out from everything Prius related. How about a Corolla, instead?"
The "cooling down" stage is a very important element in my creative process. For example, I may have some new idea that I've sung in a distracted moment, and found "hey, this would suit well in song X". So, when composition time comes, I fire up my gear, wear my beloved magenta Beethoven wig (just kidding), and start to let the old and new ideas mingle, and see if there's some chemistry there.
But after some time of such joyful process, I need to close everything and not think about it for a long time. I've completely lost my capability of judgement about the new developments of the song, and usually I reach out for anything else to do with the desperation of a drowning man, full of nervous energy (I once even started cleaning dishes, for god's sake...)
Such lack of judgment has played tricks on me in the past, and it can happen on both senses; I can leave the works of a song depressed by its awfulness, and then find while relistening later that my head starts spontaneously to bang -the ultimate quality test for me-. Surprises the other way round (ending the session with a feeling of triumph, but finding it only meh later) also happen.
The lightning rod analogy, one of my favorites, is of use here too; you've been conducting all that energy, and even if you have only been the conduct and not retained any, you don't remain the same, the iron must be cooled down, you need a rest.
This is perhaps the biggest obstacle towards applying one piece flow to song composition; distraction, doing other things, even multitasking, is a vital part of the process, and having several songs in the works at the same time, despite the many problems that increasing the amount of work in process causes, does help creativity; sometimes there is a funny game of synergies going on between the evolving songs: the way they "steal" things from one another... Since the night of times I've noticed that my songs have a tendency to come in pairs, a lot of them have a "brother" that is its complementary in some way; we used to joke about it in my former band...
I keep coming back time after time to this matter because PURPOSE is incredibly important as the starting point of any endeavor, and I've always felt there is tension between the two activities mentioned in the title, a tension that nobody else seems to notice or care much about.
I do because music is the big frickin' thing for me, I stand in that crossroads and cannot settle for a generic answer.
What do I mean by tension, you ask? Well, on one hand, for me, music is, or it can be in its highest moments, one of the most elevated things that a human being can experience on this planet.
On the other hand, however, I've been to plenty of concerts by now, and not everything that happens in those realms could be what someone would call "elevated"; on the contrary, some of the things that are prone to happen in those events, and some human specimens you find there, are base and with a filthy taste that is very connatural to them.
So we have two things that are opposite, and at the same time strongly connected, joined at the hip. Therefore, the tension.
It isn't either an intro-extrovert kind of thing, a la "the intro loves the detail of the records but gets exhausted by the massive, sweaty concerts". The exchange of energy that happens in certain concerts, with moments of actual communion, are nothing to be scoffed at (one personal favorite of mine: a band playing in the open, with the set starting as the sun goes down, so the music takes you into the night... One of the best ways I know to remind yourself you're alive).
Then what is it? I don't know for sure, maybe there's not a clearcut answer, but I found some clues in a book written only 25 centuries ago.
To my surprise and delight, Aristotle's Politics dedicates a huge chunk of the book's final section to the question of whether children should be taught music or not. He concludes that they must, but under certain conditions; he considers that music is the only art that resembles emotions (a melody can be sparse, passionate...), so its teaching can be useful to help people learn domain of the self, restraint...
When describing leisure, he distinguishes three possible finalities for it: relaxation, virtue ("benefiting leisure", so to speak), and recreation, and he considers that music has benefits in all three areas.
However, and here's the limitation, he warns that "paid musicians" are "often vulgar", because they don't practice music with an aim of elevation and self knowledge, but wanting to entertain a crowd, even at the price of resorting to the most servile resources, if the occasion requires it. Therefore, he concludes, young people must be taught music only to the extent to which they are capable to appreciate by themselves the merit of a good performance in others...
There it is again, the tension between sublime and vulgar, perfectly described by a guy who has been a speck of dust for the latest 2500 years -I guess that's why they call them classics-.
How do you deal with such contradiction? I'll have to resubscribe to my previous post; each musically inclined individual will have to find and draw his/her own private line on a different place. As for myself, the jury is still out; by now I know that I am not very big on vulgar (although I have my moments, like every one) and that I'd really like to be some day that guy up there on the stage, summoning the night for all the folks. I'd really like that, but not at any price...
I threatened with it a few posts ago, and now it's a fact: here's my first effort in the field of moving pictures at the service of rock and roll. I hope you enjoy it.
(I had to change to this URL format after bad experiences with the embedded video; sorry if the previous version autoplayed in your face as it does in certain browsers. I am also trying to resist as much as possible to upload to those YouTube swine...)
The song is included in Black Sheep Riot's self titled first album, which you can find here.
As for the new album, it is (*driving me nuts*) coming along nicely; I still find difficult to commit to a release date because my life in the latest times is like an army of butterflies bumping into my window every day, each of them causing their infamous well-known effect, what makes clarity and timelines an expensive commodity. But advances are being made...
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it