sabato 6 ottobre 2018

Most RAGING (to me) sentences of Music Usufructuaries

Hi to those who read me! 

Be careful!
Don't be too grateful to me for this new post in such a little time from the latest!
You may be one of those who usually scream out one of the sentences below!

As you know, quite often (I would prefer to say ALWAYS) I talk and chat about Music in several ways: Facebook (mainly), this blog (hopefully), Messenger (often), phone calls, Whatsapp, face to face conversations, dreams and slumbers, etc.

Well, sometimes it happens to me to slip into several sentences that I find shallow and disturbing to my ears (not necessarily to all ears!) for one or more reason.

Let's take a look at those sentences and to my explanation of my feelings!

1. Orchestration of rock music makes it better

In his famous (for those who usually read this blog) book The Music Instinct Philip Ball says (sorry, but I have the Italian Version, so I have to translate it back in English) (cfr. Italian version p. 273):
The most questionable aspect of orchestral versions in Rock music doesn't find place in the implicit paternalistic attitude, according to that it would represent <<true music>>, neither to the fact that rudimental harmonization of rock music is not suitable to a polyphonic orchestration. The matter is that Rock without its Rock specific timbre is like a vegan ice cream. It's useless to try to prepare food without its main ingredient. Following this way you could play 'Purple Haze' on a xylophone. Timbre is definitely the most intrinsic music property.
Well... I am deeply in accord with Mr. Ball!
Rock music without Rock pulsation almost becomes nothing!
If you don't think so, try to play Deep Purple 'Burn' intro with a xylophone or a violin and you'll realize what I'm trying to say!
Today I'm feeling a good boy, otherwise I would have chosen 'Fireball' intro!

But I add more to Ball's opinion: The whole thing sounds to me as a repentance.
When a rock musician comes out with an orchestral version of his own music, it sounds to me as he would say: "This is the good version, the other was made when I was out of money".
Why? Why add strings, brasses and so on to a song born with keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, that in the worse way would be removed? 

As another example more prog oriented, when I listen to a song like the following Porcupine Tree 'Even Less' I can't imagine the intro (apart the child smiling), but also the whole song, made by different musical instruments than those used there.

Where would you find the guitar sharpening effect, where the pounding effect of Maitland's drumming in an orchestral version? Nowhere!

Different is my approach to musical compositions born in a classical manner, as Concerto for Rock Band and Orchestra by Deep Purple or some Frank Zappa or Stewart Copeland work. I respect those brave works, but I have to be honest with you, my friends... I very hardly go and listen to them!
And more: rock operas born with orchestral inserts, played without orchestra become poor! So, if you realize you cannot bring an orchestra with you in the clubs where you usually play your music, it would be better to think different!

There are lots of Progressive Rock songs inspired by Classical music, especially in Genesis, King Crimson  and Gentle Giant early discographies, but in those compositions canons, fugues, madrigals and baroque choirs are generally used on a rock groove or intention, as you may realize by listening the following, astonishing beautiful 'Islands' by King Crimson

Or 'On Reflection' by Gentle Giant, where the voices play a great part, repeated in the second part of the song by instruments!

At the end of the game I say a little prayer to musicians: When a song is GREAT in its Rock version, please (If you could see me now... I am kneeled!) AVOID TO MAKE AN ORCHESTRAL VERSION! It will always sound as a pompous, arrogant version, impoverished in its evocative power, due to... guess what? Rock power, structure and composition!

I have to confess to you that I have almost the same feeling on several acoustic versions of rock songs.
Please notice... not acoustic songs, but acoustic versions of rock songs. In fact, in the famous album 4 Way Street I prefer the first part (LP 1), where Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young play originally written acoustic songs, to the electric second part.

2. Cover/tribute are a great way to renew Prog Classics

It's useless to come back on this item: if you want to listen to Prog Classics in the version you like, you only have to put a CD in the player or an LP on the turntable, wear your headphones and pump up the volume!
Every different way is a poor verisimilitude, referred to the original one.

If you are interested in my opinion on this argument, you will find something more extended in the link below:
3. If only nowadays there would be bands (or artists) as xxx

It's merely another way to say "In my times music was better".
Philip Ball (cfr. The Music Instinct) says this sentence finds place since Counter Reformation Age!
And obviously it's a false sentence, since it's frequently uttered by lazy listeners or people who are not really interested in music any more, but never will admit it!

If you turn around and listen, you will find a lot of very good and innovative music, mainly in jazz-oriented musicians as the two magical ladies Hiromi Uehara and Esperanza Spalding  (cfr., but also in Snarky Puppy (the funkiest big band in the world), Marbin (with balkanic influences), The Aristocrats, Special Providence (both with metal influences), but also in more prog-oriented music as Yugen, Not A Good Sign, Il Tempio delle Clessidre, Slivovitz (All great Italian bands), Pain of Salvation, Camembert, Discipline, Motorpsycho, Riverside (better not the 2015 Album, IMHO) and many many others.

Just to let you understand what I'm trying to say, here we have some examples!

'Heaven from Pennies' - Esperanza Spalding

Unfortunately on the Youtube the first song of this incredible album, 'Swimming towards the black dot' is missing, otherwise I would have chosen it since is more innovative and surprising. The above song is very intense and goosebumping!

'Grown Folks' - Snarky Puppy

Great groove and fantastic musicians! Their LIVE performances are very enthralling! You cannot avoid to dance and jump!

'Louisville Stomp' - The Aristocrats

Greatly talented musicians who can play and be funny in the same time!
Every gig is amusing and different, because they always improvise on stage.

Now, let's go on the prog side!

'Angel of Broken Things' - Pain Of Salvation

Intense, destabilizing music. Great vocalism and please, pay attention to the incredible guitar solo!

'Fecondee par un extra-terrestre' - Camembert

A little strange Canterbury attitude, sometimes Zappa-ish, great young band from France! They have two albums out and this song is from the second one.

'The Body Yearns' - Discipline

Great american band strongly influenced by Van Der Graaf Generator.
This is taken from their latest work.

Risultati immagini per bandiera italiana


'Cloudscape' - Yugen

Yugen (Milan based) are generally difficult to approach, but once you're in, you feel they're great!
I think the above is one of the best examples of modern Chamber Music in the last ten years.

'Open Window' - Not A Good Sign

NAGS (Milan based) are composed by great musicians. This song, taken from the second of their three albums, is dramatic, anxious and I always imagine someone who enters in a room with an open window, he is full of desperation, thinks to jump, then tries to change his mind remembering the good past things, but when he realizes that they are very few with the respect to the bad ones, he finally jumps out! 

'Onirica Possessione' - Il Tempio Delle Clessidre

ITDC (Genoa based) are greatly RPI influenced. Or better, they are the prosecution of RPI tradition, IMHO. All of their music is full of refined instrumental layering which gives power and sumptuous attitude.
This song is taken from the second of their three albums. It's intense, well sung and performed. Please notice how intense are the choir at the very end of this beautiful song!

'Mani in Faccia' - Slivovitz

Slivovitz (Naples based) are more jazz-oriented and their music is full of Mediterranean influences. Most of the song titles (and the rare lyrics) are ironic and mixed up with Neapolitan language. All young great musicians!

4. Their (His) music evolved in time

Quite often, when a fan can't admit the latest work of his favourite band or artist sounds too easy and predictable, generally adopts the magical formula above mentioned.

Who could say that Invisible Touch is an evolution of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway? Surely not the dear departed Kevin Gilbert!

(OK! It's a cover and by posting it, seems I'm in contradiction with the point 2, but it's so funny and explicative!)

You must remember that "fan" stays for "fa-na-tic". Never trust them, they are deaf, dumb and blind, worse than Tommy!

I have nothing against those who simplify their way of composing music to reach more audience, apart that happens that I'm not interested in this kind of change. I have something against those who don't want to admit it!

When the musical phrase becomes narrow, the repetitions more frequent, the search of something new is abandoned and the style becomes a bit foolish, it sounds to me as an involution, not an evolution. But maybe it's a problem of mine (and other thousands of music lovers!)...

Even the sentence "OK, but easy music made by him (or them) it's greater than by others" (if you only knew how many great musicians are behind easy listening songs!) sounds to my ears as "I can't admit I'm a bit disappointed" or "I must convince myself that this work is good".

Not my style. Even in the case of new works of my favourite musicians, I always listen before, judge and eventually buy them. It's a matter of respect to Music!

5. The Show was full of lights and visual contributions, the singer (or other musician) was cool, the musicians were pleasant!

When someone, coming back from a gig, gives me this kind of comment I always ask if he (or she) liked also the music they played, that should be the main reason to go and listen to! 

Sometimes (not always, don't put in my mouth words I never uttered) the more are powerful the lights and the visual contributions, the poorer is the music proposed. You know you have to catch the audience in some way!
Or better, I compare the visual contributions in music to make-up in a girl: sometimes it gives a false idea of true beauty, but when beauty is real behind make-up, you will notice it in any case. 
So if You would say: "What a beautiful lipstick she has"  instead of "what beautiful lips she has", the make up has played the greatest part. 
You know what I mean...
6. Better they play covers than their own music I don't like  
The most of my friends know what is my approach to covers: I use to play a lot of songs by Kansas, Gentle Giant, Spock's Beard, Brand X, Porcupine Tree, Genesis, King Crimson and so on after the study routines behind my  drumkit. It's challenging and very satisfying to realize you can play such difficult songs!
Moreover I always play it in my style, using the original chops and rhythm patterns  where I find I like them and a change would be a mistake.
But I always do it for myself. No one will ever listen how I perform them, good or bad they are!

So... it's important to play covers, because you realize your improvements through it and also you can notice some songs are easier than you have thought before approaching them!

But when you go out in front of an audience, I think it's better to propose your own music, good or bad to the audience it may be. No one should discourage it!
It's only in this way that Music can evolve in the future and give to us new shivers and emotions!

We wouldn't have the great Music we have, if no one had tried to subvert the preceding rules! And this comes only by daring to create new sounds, new harmonies, new melodies and so on!

An advice to young musicians (old ones are too anchored to old cliches): don't trust to those who say "all is already written". It isn't true. What still has to be written may be written by you!
I always dream that in some cellar, under a block of flats, there is a young gifted band who is creating The Music Of The Future. I hope I will still be here and quite open minded to enjoy it!

Phew! I reached the end of this post!
Unless it will come to my mind some other "raging sentence"!
Even if you know I always use to be ironic and irreverent, I know after this post I may lose some of my Facebook contacts, but never mind!
I always think that when it occurs for this kind of reason, it already lasted too long... hasn't it?

Thank you so much to those who reached the end of this huge post!
However it's full of good music, that someone could find unknown.
In this case I reached my goal to let you know something new!

Bye Bye until the next post!