Thursday, August 14, 2008

Words please

I had a friend request on my MySpace yesterday from an Italian band called Mondrian Oak. As I always do with music requests, I listened to a bit of one of their tracks before deciding whether or not to accept.

On it went and it was okay. But it went on a little longer and no words were forthcoming. So I skipped ahead, and still no words. I checked out their band members: nobody credited as vocalist or singer.

I had to decline their request, cos I don't really understand music without words. I just don't get it. This is an opinion I have held since childhood. For me, it's virtually all about the lyrics.

I watch a film, and someone might say, "What a great score." And I'll go, "Really? Can't say I noticed." Occasionally, though, a score will strike me and I'll like it, like the one in There Will Be Blood. But that was like non-music -- like atmpospherics, industrial noise, and music all rolled into one. And that's different.

Equally, if someone said to me to listen to a particular piece of scoring, then I could listen to it and give an honest opinion of how it worked in conjunction with the film's images. But all too often I feel that movie music tends to manipulate me, the viewer, towards an emotion that the director was unable to take me via the acting. That's lazy scoring, and I just block it out, subconsciously.

A few months ago, I was at a nice lunch with some colleagues, and a piece of classical music was playing (don't ask me what or whom). One of my fellow diners got very impassioned about an upcoming part and urged us to pay attention. I did. But meh. I just ... I just don't know...

Maybe I'm a product of my time, like Marc Bolan, "a 20th-century boy".

And when I watch University Challenge and the music round comes up, I'm always gutted that they focus on classical so much. But the funny thing is, nine times out of ten, these kids, when faced with something "pop" or "rock" from the past 50 years, have no clue what it is they're listening to. That's just plain weird for me.



Anonymous hurling froootmig said...

spot on!!
when they do the music round, they play some part of a classical bit and ask them to identify it?
sorry, but one orchestra playing something sounds as alike as another playing something else.
i happen to like a bit of it, in moderation...i watched nigel kennedy play elgars violin concerto on the proms the other weekend, but mainly due to seeing him play, not the actual music.
it has to be said though, it is funny when the chinless wonders try desperately to name a bit of contemporary music.
as for university challenge itself, my record of questions answered correctly is 8. which i'm more than happy with as i've watched it when certain members of teams haven't answered ANY questions correctly at all!
not bad for a fat northern supermarket worker!

14 August, 2008 11:15  
Blogger Red said...

I like music with no words. I don't necessarily prefer it to music with lyrics, but sometimes it's nice to just listen to a nice piece of instrumental music. It doesn't have to be classical music, either. Are you telling me you don't like a nice Morricone score? Music on its own can be beautifully evocative, in a way that would only be cheapened by words.

14 August, 2008 11:46  
Blogger Milla said...

HAHAAHAHAHAHA!! Ahhhh I think they got your page from my own page.
This band is really very good, but obviosuly it is completely up to you if you want to decline or accept their request.

I like music without lyrics; sometimes you don't need words to go with the music (having said that: the majority of bands I listen to however have lyrics).
I agree with what Red says: Morricone, the score on david Lynch's films...just think about the body of work of Angelo Badalamenti...

14 August, 2008 13:19  
Blogger furiousBall said...

I 100% agree Johnny Greenwood's score was amazing in There Will Be Blood.

14 August, 2008 14:31  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

i'm with red. i love words, obviously. words are my life. but there's just something stirring about an incredibly well-composed and well-performed piece of music (classical or otherwise).

and i, too, adored johnny greenwood's score. it was so affecting. awesome, really.

14 August, 2008 17:30  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

Ok it has to be certain music with no words. I mean like this one song on NIN (Nine in Nails) that has no words but just the instruments is one thing but classical or anything other is harder to follow.

14 August, 2008 18:56  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Wonderful's great to read you in the form I come to expect ha!

I believe you are speaking of "post rock".

I was going to post about this music myself one day coming up.

I just loved this post. I miss you blogging terribly! I hate Facebook and MySpace for taking you and others away from writing on your blog!



No, I know you guys are busy, but what a great post!!!!!

15 August, 2008 18:26  
Blogger mister anchovy said...

I grew up with music that involved singing, and even when I became a teenaged blues freak, I rarely listened to instrumentals. That's something that has really changed for me.

First I started to really enjoy jazz players like Ornette Coleman and Monk and Sun Ra, and while some of those musicians had vocalists, I went to it for the music. Some of those players really opened my eyes to so many possibilities I hadn't thought about. As Sun Ra said, "There are worlds they have not told you of"

Then I discovered accordion music and fiddle music, and all kinds of ethnic folk musics and again, while singing is sometimes involved, often the music is all that is needed. Dewey Balfa, the Cajun fiddler once said something like, I like accordion but the fiddle, it can break your heart.

In pop music, what do the lyrics mean anyway. I love you I hate you you stole my baby I'm gonna drink lots of whiskey I ain't got no money I want you yeah yeah yeah. Occasionally the meaning of lyrics really resonates with me, but not always. At one time I didn't like to listen to music with lyrics sung in languages I didn't know, but now I listen to all kinds of songs sung in other languages-for example Cajun French. It's good to know what the heck they're singing about, but the music speaks to the content of the song as much as the lyrics do, so I don't feel I'm missing that much.

15 August, 2008 22:54  
Blogger lightupvirginmary said...

I take it you don't like any dance music then?

16 August, 2008 23:57  

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