Demographic Imperialism

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Snardbafulator
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Demographic Imperialism

Postby Snardbafulator » Thu Jan 20, 2011 07:58

Sterbus wrote:No need to justify !! I find this music good even in demanding mood, if in this particular case I'm looking for some good analog sounds, fat bass, mono drums...


But why would someone "look for" these things in a vaccuum? I do understand analog keyboard sounds, just as I understand tube guitar amps, but these things in themselves have very little meaning. The most luscious guitar sound in the world can't redeem a shit solo. Jon Lord of Deep Purple used a deliciously fat, overdriven Hammond sound from a miked Leslie speaker though a Marshall stack -- but he's still Jon Lord and not, say, Dave Stewart. (Mike Ratledge used a completely shit Lowrey organ sound and yet his solos are still somehow musically original.) My music's realized in mono on a 16-bit sound card but I didn't intend it that way. These things happen to be sonic artifacts, but anything good about my music is good in spite of these things, not because of them.

Yes, Emanuele, I have an enormous bug up my butt about this, but it's precisely the same bug that Zappa had (same species 'n' everything) and let's leave aside for a minute how this relates to rock music forms (because Zappa had nothing at all against primitive rock forms per se) and just talk about sounds. It's one thing to make an argument for the warmth and emphasis on even harmonics of tube amps or the keyboard actions and unique sound-generating strategies of classic 70s analog keys. It's quite another to fetish tank reverb and one-mic drum recording just because it was used in the 60s (they had no other freaking choice!) or those wacky comb-filter effects (flanging/phasing).

The only reason a musician of today would waste a microsecond of his or her time intentionally recording a totally crap drum sound is this: nostalgia. And on one level that's fine; people are entitled to their memories and no doubt a certain generation would find the thought of safey pins in their noses nostalgic, too. The problem here that goes beyond a simple "live and let live" is that there are way more people out there (at least in the developed West) for whom the High (and we do mean "high") 60s evoke these sorts of memories than there are of anybody else living.

These horrific human specimens, the Baby Boomers, for whom tank reverb and mono drum tracks evoke Oneness with the Universe (or at least a communal wine drunk in a muddy field), while currently kicking and screaming their way into retirement (at last!) still have their withering claws sunk deep into the cultural apparatus, just as they have had for their entire lives. The punk movement was a genuine Generation X attempt to rebel against the cultural hegemony of having one's big brother's music forced down one's throat, but the Boomers were already young professionals, so punk was almost instantly co-opted. You'll notice that every new music scene that has emerged since then sounds vaguely the same? Ever wonder why? Ever wonder why it's taken so many years for math rock to find a youthful following, emerging from the same garages (maybe it didn't sound enough like the Boomers's past)? Ever wonder why a 19-year-old kid in a band like Tame Impalas would think it's the coolest thing in the world to sound like his grandfather's music?

It's called Demographic Imperialism.

Bob
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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby schlep » Thu Jan 20, 2011 14:11

It's - - it's Trans-Generational Ventriloquism!!

It's an outrage! :lol:

Sorry. I should leave well enough alone. I really don't care which music you hate! Seems like an awful lot though.
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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby eadric » Thu Jan 20, 2011 16:25

Well it could be nostalgia, but it could well be just /really liking that drum sound/. You can call it uninspired pastiche, I suppose, but personally I don't demand authenticity from my music : just that it sounds good. As it happens, Tame Impala do nothing for me, but then neither did the bands they sound like.

I don't think it's anything baby boomer, so much as every style of music gets disassembled and repeated, and some become popular and some don't. The pervasiveness of certain sounds is more to do with the enduring appeal of 'white boys with guitars' (as John Peel said). What we see as repetition probably says more about *us* than anything else - there are entire genres just not on my musical playlist. Give it 10 years, the kids will be complaining that everything sounds like Tinie Tempah or something.

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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby Snardbafulator » Thu Jan 20, 2011 19:40

schlep wrote:It's - - it's Trans-Generational Ventriloquism!!

It's an outrage! :lol:


Touche. (I really need to stop posting after two cups of coffee drank in quick succession.) It really isn't trans-generational, though. I'm not attempting to speak for any particular generation. Young people who are influenced by baby-boomer music to the extent that they try to cop a technically flawed drum sound and do everything else they can to evoke the sound of a late 60s recording studio at the dawn of the multitrack era would consider this influence the way a fish considers water (not at all) and would consider my words that of a raving and possibly dangerous lunatic :eeeek:

schlep wrote:Sorry. I should leave well enough alone. I really don't care which music you hate! Seems like an awful lot though.


People thought Zappa hated an awful lot of music, too. (He was given a blind test of progrock in 1970 and responded "Real intellectual with ugly chords and a lousy beat.") I'd rather be seen as too discriminatory in my tastes than too promiscuous. It's way worse to have been caught cheerleading for something that, at the end of the day, turns to have been nothing but pure hype after all.

Bear in mind also that all those lovely young fans of Tame Impala would have a monstrously difficult time assimilating some of the music that you and I take for granted, and there happens to be a set of reasons for this that go beyond people merely choosing to love Tame Impala and hate Fred Frith.

Whether or not I have the uncanny ability to come across like a frothing lunatic in these arguments, that the particular tastes and experiences of the baby boomers continue to exert an enormous cultural influence on the entire public is merely a commonplace in cultural studies programs.

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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby Foma2 » Thu Jan 20, 2011 20:04

The most fun I had in my four years running a recording studio was miking up the drums, eighteen of the buggers being my preferred approach, on a good day. I'd have bands coming in asking for that lo-fi sound and was often left wondering why they didn't just record themselves at home with a four track rather than paying me. My "problem" was that I would generally approach the recording of a given tune based on its own merits - something inherent in the song and the way it was played by the musicians. Any attempt at contrivance would leave me floundering and the band generally unhappy with the result. Maybe I just don't get "that sound", but I tend to think it's more to do with faddish tastes than any real musical aesthetic. Having said that, our "Great British Spring" reverb was a thing of beauty.

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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby Snardbafulator » Thu Jan 20, 2011 20:39

eadric wrote:Well it could be nostalgia, but it could well be just /really liking that drum sound/.


Point taken. Lenny Kravitz had a thing about capturing that enormous, reverb-heavy drum sound of John Bonham, and granted -- that's a really great drum sound. But all other things being equal, mono drum sounds are inherently limited in the ways a producer can apply them to the context of a song.

eadric wrote:You can call it uninspired pastiche, I suppose, but personally I don't demand authenticity from my music : just that it sounds good.


Pastiche is a formal criticism, uninspired is an inference, neither necessarily having to do with "authenticity," which I agree with you about. What I have called the Cult of Authenticity is precisely why we'll never be rid of bands like Tame Impala -- because what matters to their fans is not originality, not formal structure, not genuine insipiration, but whether or not the sound is "authentic" to the spirit of a truly "authentic" god of rock music, namely John Lennon.

eadric wrote: As it happens, Tame Impala do nothing for me, but then neither did the bands they sound like.


I don't know if I can go that far. I don't think it's wise to dismiss the psychedelic-era Beatles or John Lennon completely out of hand, or even some of their imitators at the time. I'm not against the psychedlic era per se. It had and I suppose deserved its moment in the sun. My argument is attempts have been made down 40 years to keep it alive or revive it, and it's not like it's even a particular style of music that can be revived. It's just a set of attitudes and a vocabulary of sound design.

eadric wrote:I don't think it's anything baby boomer, so much as every style of music gets disassembled and repeated, and some become popular and some don't. The pervasiveness of certain sounds is more to do with the enduring appeal of 'white boys with guitars' (as John Peel said).


Well, but the enduring appeal of "white boys with guitars" has a lot to do with the immediate postwar era and the newly vast amount of leisure and income which turned manufacturing, distributing and marketing round, flat bits of plastic with holes in the center wrapped in cardboard to young people into a veritable get-rich-quick scheme. That the music of this era became so enduringly popular and set the template for all rock music to come has everything in the world to do with how many of these young people there were relative to everybody else.

Again, as I said last message, this is only a commonplace in cultural studies classes.

eadric wrote:What we see as repetition probably says more about *us* than anything else - there are entire genres just not on my musical playlist. Give it 10 years, the kids will be complaining that everything sounds like Tinie Tempah or something.


Nahh, repetition is objectively measurable and the idea of doing so much of it is a trance music thing, related in spirit to Minimalism. If you looked at the second Tame Impala video, it was synched to images of a Space Shuttle launch and docking, really long-wave sort events for a music video. Obviously the legacy of this is listening to music while spaced on acid (D'oh!) but it also can be considered a meditation aid or just a form of "mood music." That's how people would defend this stuff, and there really is no broader, non-aesthetic argument against that use of music per se.

I just went off on the late 60s trappings because personally, I'm over them already. As a smaller-cohort, late boomer myself ('59), I carry the extra-special resentment of the younger brother ...

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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby Snardbafulator » Thu Jan 20, 2011 20:44

Foma2 wrote:The most fun I had in my four years running a recording studio was miking up the drums, eighteen of the buggers being my preferred approach, on a good day. I'd have bands coming in asking for that lo-fi sound and was often left wondering why they didn't just record themselves at home with a four track rather than paying me. My "problem" was that I would generally approach the recording of a given tune based on its own merits - something inherent in the song and the way it was played by the musicians. Any attempt at contrivance would leave me floundering and the band generally unhappy with the result. Maybe I just don't get "that sound", but I tend to think it's more to do with faddish tastes than any real musical aesthetic. Having said that, our "Great British Spring" reverb was a thing of beauty.


Thanks. Those are precisely the points I tried to make; I appreciate a practical hand illustrating them. The recording always needs to follow the inherent needs of the piece of music itself.

Bob
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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby Giddy » Sun Jan 23, 2011 16:52

Snardbafulator wrote:I'd rather be seen as too discriminatory in my tastes than too promiscuous.


What an extraordinary sentiment. In my experience, music lovers who care about how others view their tastes more often see a fondness for lots of different genres / styles / bands as a positive, some kind of badge of honour of how all-encompassing their tastes are and a sign of just how much more they love music than anybody else ("Hey man, I really dig the second LP by the Groovy Feckers, the one with the Oompah Loompah covers played on combs with paper"). Of course, these eejits are usually extracted from their own backsides by somebody pointing out that it's all just tunes.

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Re: Demographic Imperialism

Postby Snardbafulator » Tue Jan 25, 2011 02:00

Giddy wrote:
Snardbafulator wrote:I'd rather be seen as too discriminatory in my tastes than too promiscuous.


What an extraordinary sentiment. In my experience, music lovers who care about how others view their tastes more often see a fondness for lots of different genres / styles / bands as a positive, some kind of badge of honour of how all-encompassing their tastes are and a sign of just how much more they love music than anybody else ("Hey man, I really dig the second LP by the Groovy Feckers, the one with the Oompah Loompah covers played on combs with paper"). Of course, these eejits are usually extracted from their own backsides by somebody pointing out that it's all just tunes.


I almost edited that line when I read it after posting; I thought it might push some buttons and it isn't really quite what I meant. I'd rather be seen as a music lover, period. But I do believe it's impossible to love anything without a judicious dose of discernment. I came of age loving progrock -- which is a lot less deliberate of a choice considering prog was all over the airwaves and critics were falling all over themselves to praise it and call it the future of rock music. But there were always prog-haters, even in the early 70s, and even then they made up a numerical majority.

So I internalized the idea fairly early that loving really good music pretty much required going against the larger crowd. You start learning about music history, how Bach was considered insane for putting organs through their paces, that Mozart died a debtor, that Beethoven's late quartets were called "ugly," that bebop caused a huge war with the jazz old guard ("That's not jazz, that's Chinese music!" -Louis Armstrong), that Stravinsky's Rite of Spring was pelted with tomatoes, etc. etc. And then you become a Cardiacs fan and encounter the same kind of terrible mass reaction.

We've been discussing the "it's all tunes, innit?" comment over on the Leader of the Starry Skies / A Loyal Companion thread, and I agree very much with eadric that the comment wasn't made so much to call Cardiacs psychedelic pop as it was to cast doubts on the whole idea of labeling music: "It's all music, innit?" seems more like the sense of what he's saying. And absolutely, labels are a shorthand we all understand, but they're also debilitating; people hang them on their badges of identity and soon you have fistfights between death metalers and grindcore fans in bar parking lots. We should all just love music and not let label-borne expectations get in the way.

But that still doesn't short-circuit the notion of a cultivated taste. I don't love what is called "prog" on the progrock sites per se, as an end in itself, but I do savor the progressive in all forms of music, and I also see how the priorities of getting one's music out there can get in front of the creative aspect. But because I love what's progressive, the inevitable corollary is that I do wind up caring less about music that's not so progressive, "progressive" defined by objective musical criteria.

Does that go against the current trend to be multi-culti in the name of diversity at all costs?

Yes. But I'm selecting music I love, not hiring people for a job.

Bob
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