Archive for April, 2008

When a big pizza pie hits you in the eye, that’s extremely painful and should not be compared to the moon.

Especially if there are anchovies.

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More about music

Lately I can’t seem to stop thinking about music.

This is not all that surprising; music has played a central role in my life for a long time now. I have listened to it. I have played it. I have written it. On multiple instruments, in many genres, for countless reasons.

I have frequently expressed the desire to make a career of music. When I first started to play the guitar, I wanted to be a rock star. Some time later, playing in front of people lost its shine for me, but I felt I could perhaps write songs for others to play. This eventually faded, but the passion for music lived on. Perhaps I could teach it, help others discover the same love of music that I found. That too seems now to have fallen by the wayside. I recently expressed an interest in writing score for movies or television. I’ve never attempted this, but it’s something I am still considering trying my hand at. Perhaps not as a career goal, unless I manage something pretty darned extraordinary, but maybe as an occasional commission thing.

I think perhaps much of music lost its shine due to my studying it too much. When I hear a song that seems to be aching for the performer’s lost love, and I can analyze it as an unresolved dominant seventh chord, it loses its shine. It becomes technical, sterile. I’ve studied music theory since the age of five, though, and as a result it’s something that I can’t simply turn off. I can frequently listen to a song the very first time simply for enjoyment, but thereafter when I hear it, I dissect it. I cut it open and find out what makes it tick, despite realizing that I am tearing its heart out in the process.

Those of you who know me well enough to have a sense of what I do and don’t like in music may well have noticed one common thread between songs – I’m a sucker for an intelligently written lyric. It doesn’t really take a genius to come up with most of the chord progressions used by Carbon Leaf or Barenaked Ladies or Guster, but their lyrics are usually pretty darn good. It also helps, of course, that the level of musicianship with these bands is very high, but it seems to be the lyrics that catch my attention the most these days.

I have always heard how there are no new ideas left in music. It’s true, at least for the twelve-tone system used in Western music; it’s been beaten to death. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t still great songs being written occasionally. It’s just that there’s very little about the music that’s new. The English language, I have come to realize, is a much more flexible tool. There is still infinitely more that has not yet been done. This is probably why I am deriving much more enjoyment from writing than from music lately.

I’m not abandoning music here, nor do I expect that I ever shall. I do think, though, that it needs to recover its shine for me somehow before I can be in a position to appreciate it as much as it deserves.

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