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Last post Author Topic: What modern music (today) is considered to be both pop AND intellectual?  (Read 9334 times)

Edvard

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I think when music tries to be intellectual, it takes away from itself musically. Intellect and music don't really mix. Lyrics can be intellectual, but even there I'm not so sure - I guess it depends on your definition of 'intellectual'.

Prezactly.  BUT; I think if you're a natural thinkin' feller, your music is going to reflect that no matter if it's a smooth pop hit or banging two pans together.  Witness: Daniel Johnston.  He had pop musical genius in bucketloads when the mood hit him (if a bit err... roughshod), and it's easy to tell from his lyrics that he gave them a think or two before penning them down.  Also, early punk-turned-something-else bands like Husker Du and Firehose had plenty of acumen to go around, and sounded downright sweet when they put it in gear.  

One of the big problems I have with the "Alternative" scene especially beginning around the '90's is that the word itself was in reverse, a negative. Supposedly people wanted "Alternatives to crap" ... but what if the alternative to "overpolished stadium rock crap" is ... "semi-melodic uncrafted crap"?

Nailed it.  Except you may forget that the '90s also had the major labels in a feeding frenzy for the stuff, and so along with the contract came the professional studio and (heaven forbid) a real producer that smoothed a lot of edges and made for more listenable stuff, IMHO, even as the bands themselves lost some street cred because of it.  Yes, there was a lot of crap, but a lot of gems too.  The trouble was the gems needed polishing.

Quote
I took the music program Audacity and chopped up "What does the Fox Say?" and re-spliced the verses minus the raucous chorus and wound up with something that is surprisingly listenable.

I found the song "surprisingly listenable" all the way through.  The point of the whole song was that it was a parody of pop music.  Take the stupidest topic you can think of, dippy noises and all, and craft it into an ultimately listenable, danceable, viable POP song, because that seems to be exactly what the voices on the radio are doing.  I think they nailed it.

That's pretty much how the best band I was ever in worked. We had somebody (the lead singer) who was very creative and original - but totally clueless. He was our wild-card factor. The rest of us would take his good ideas and chord progressions (he had made up his own chord shapes - which he played badly)  and turn them into workable songs. We used to call it "the process" - or "assaying." It was a good symbiosis. A neat (occasionally brilliant) idea he lacked the knowledge to do something with got turned into a complete song. And we got that oddball riff or idea we might not have come up with ourselves since we knew better. It was a workable arrangement.

Cool story, and reminds me A LOT of the dynamic (as told by other band members) between Syd Barrett and his compatriots in Pink Floyd.

One of my quiet little hobbies is taking a song that feels "promising" but not quite right for me, and doing about one to three easy mods to it, such as chopping out an annoying part, then fiddling with the tempo and pitch. I end up with "my song". No once else has to agree with the result, though I'm sure seven people in the world would. Because once the song is given to me, I get to share in the experience. I get the artist's vision, but then their control leaves.

Congratulations, you're a "re-mix artist".  Seriously, there are some folks making careers out of the stuff.  If you come up with anything that really tickles, let us hear it.  :Thmbsup:

Go Chris! :Thmbsup:

Dude, Chris Squire's bass sound was what sold me on Rickenbackers back in the day.  Not that I could actually afford one, and I never really like their looks, but 'Roundabout' was the first song I remember actually noticing the bass sound on.  Nowadays, I know enough to know it wasn't just the Rick, but... damn.

Also, I think Elvis Costello has had a corner market on 'smart pop' for a while now.  I know he's not 'modern' anymore, but you gotta admit the guy has some pretty smooth tricks in his sleeves.

40hz

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Dude, Chris Squire's bass sound was what sold me on Rickenbackers back in the day.

In my case it was Greg Lake and a Gibson L9S Ripper. (Couldn't afford one of those either - but I bought one anyway in 73!) ;D

gp-sep74.jpgWhat modern music (today) is considered to be both pop AND intellectual?  1973-gibson-ripper-b.JPGWhat modern music (today) is considered to be both pop AND intellectual?

I really like the Ric sound too. (Even if I'm not wild about the build quality or workmanship as this repair guy's vid discusses.) But funny thing...it's the only iconic bass of that era I've never had in my collection.

rick_guitar.jpgWhat modern music (today) is considered to be both pop AND intellectual?

If I ever did get a Ric, I'd hold out for a 4005 hollowbody. And since they're now going for $10k on average in playable condition, I think I can safely say I'll never own one. Especially since Guild has reissued their Starfire Bass which provides a very similar sound and vibe (plus a much better neck) for around a grand. 8)
« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 09:23:31 PM by 40hz »

40hz

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Three more additions for intelligent pop: Cat Stevens, Nillson, and Harry Chapin.

And add in some intelligent pop ladies: Loreena McKinnet, Kate Bush, Chrissy Hynde, and Margie Adam. (@SB -check Margie out here.)
« Last Edit: June 05, 2014, 10:14:16 PM by 40hz »

Edvard

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Nilsson!!  I've always considered him a "fifth Beatle".  Incredible vocal range and brilliant songwriter.  :Thmbsup:

TaoPhoenix

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One of my quiet little hobbies is taking a song that feels "promising" but not quite right for me, and doing about one to three easy mods to it, such as chopping out an annoying part, then fiddling with the tempo and pitch. I end up with "my song". No once else has to agree with the result, though I'm sure seven people in the world would. Because once the song is given to me, I get to share in the experience. I get the artist's vision, but then their control leaves.

Congratulations, you're a "re-mix artist".  Seriously, there are some folks making careers out of the stuff.  If you come up with anything that really tickles, let us hear it.  :Thmbsup:

Heh not really, it's more like "with an audience of one you can't fail". I just smashed out versions to loop during work just to help me concentrate. Basically my tastes run towards speed and tempo down from the originals, so I can't tell what would be any runaway hit.

A better way to do that is to make a new thread of people wanting to do that to songs and we can trade notes.

I also have to say I don't have any attention to the fine crafting, so it's more like a musical version of a pencil sketch.

But per my point, parody or no, "W-D-F-S" has some three or four melodic themes in the verses and bridges, so it's a little bit like "if your parody is too perfect, it becomes the thing." Certainly lyrics like "The secret of the Fox, and ancient mystery..." isn't any less valid than "real song" lyrics of hundreds of staple songs we can all come up with!


TaoPhoenix

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Nilsson!!  I've always considered him a "fifth Beatle".  Incredible vocal range and brilliant songwriter.  :Thmbsup:


Sometimes you can "back into" a great singer from a cover. Nilsson's re-arrangement of "Without You" is one I first learned about through an Air Supply cover. ("Semi-RIP" Russell Hitchcock. Back as a youngster when I used to follow this stuff intently, I think he got ill or something because he lost about half an octave on his range in about two years and this was the last song he could nail his signature tenor.)

The Air Supply version:
http://www.youtube.c.../watch?v=IjxEB-oM2WQ

Which led me to the Nillson version:
http://www.youtube.c.../watch?v=_bQGRRolrg0



« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 06:34:35 AM by TaoPhoenix »

40hz

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For Nillson I still think he reached his creative apogee with The Point. Great little tale. I loved his illustrations, and the music was marvellous. Especially the songs: Polli High (vintage Nillson that one!) Are You Sleeping and the Point of View Waltz. I particularly like the opening line in the P.O.V. Waltz:

And suddenly
The strangest things are happening...
I hope it's not the last time


Not a bad philosophy IMO.



Last I looked, somebody had the full animation up on YouTube. (This one with Ringo Starr. God knows why. The original with Dustin Hoffman as the father and narrator was far better IMO.) Might want to watch or grab it while you can.



 :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 09:27:00 AM by 40hz »

40hz

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Since I'm on a Nillson jag, also check out his album Pandemonium Shadow Show. I'm impressed at how well this holds up considering RCA Studios penchant for overproduction and cathedral-esque reverb on vocal mixes back in that era.

I personally think his cover of the Beatles She's Leaving Home and his interpretation of Without Her are easily as good as the originals. Not a small feat when it comes to a Beatles song. And on the original front 1941 and Sleep Late, My Lady Friend are spot on brilliant despite the over the top production.
Lyrics for 1941
Quote

Well, in 1941 a happy father had a son
And by 1944, father walks right out the door
And in '45 the mom and son were still alive
But who could tell in '46 if the two were to survive

Well, the years were passing quickly but not fast enough for him
So he close his eyes through '55 then he opened them up again
When he looked around he saw a clown and the clown seemed very gay
And he set that night to join that circus clown and run away

Well, he followed every railroad track and every highway sign
And he had a girl in each new town and the towns he left behind
And the open road was the only road he knew
But the color of his dreams were slowly turning into blue

The he met a girl, the kind of girl he wanted all his life
She was soft and kind and good to him so he took her for his wife
And they got a house not far from town and in a little while
The girl had seen the doctor and she came home with a smile

Now in 1961 a happy father had a son
And by 1964 the father walks right out the door
And in '65 the mom and son were still around
But what will happen to the boy when the circus comes to town?


Quote
Pandemonium Shadow Show was the first product of Nilsson's three-year, $50,000 recording contract with RCA Records, and was recorded in their Hollywood studio. Unlike virtually all his earlier records, Show employed the full potential of Nilsson's voice in the recording studio, turning him into what was described as a "chorus of ninety-eight voices". The album debuted to little public attention in the US and England, although it was an immediate hit in Canada, where "You Can't Do That" was a top 10 hit. Beatles publicist Derek Taylor heard "1941" on his car radio waiting for his wife at the supermarket and, enjoying the track, ordered a case of copies, sending them out to various industry people he believed would be interested including The Beatles, who later invited Nilsson to London and helped further his career -
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 09:31:56 AM by 40hz »

Vurbal

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That's why we turned them into rules - sort of a crutch for the creativity impaired.

FWIW I think some "rules" are actually liberating. And creativity by itself is vastly over-hyped in my opinion. A musical idea is cheap. Most of us can crank out a dozen or more on demand. Finding one that's worth doing something with, and knowing how to do something with it, is an altogether different thing. Therein lies (to me) the difference between creativity and art. Creativity is just the raw material - not the finished piece. Or the process leading to it. You need both. But music isn't just about being creative.

I suspect you and I are using different definitions for "creativity" and "rules."  :)

Perhaps it's simpler if I explain in terms of writing rather than music; simpler because music really has one set of rules for the masses and another for musicians. At any rate, when it comes to writing I can't really keep up with language rules because I do everything based on my internal "ear." My oldest daughter is the same way, as are my other kids to one degree or another.

I've always told them not to sweat proper grammar except when the rules say they have to. Otherwise, I say, "the rules are for people who can't hear the music." For the most part things like not ending a sentence with a preposition or beginning a paragraph with a main sentence are just what makes the most sense.

However language, much like music, is infinitely malleable. It has rhythm, melodies, harmonies, and almost everything music does except (when written) you can only hear it in your head. When I write it's almost a stream of consciousness based on how I "hear" things in my head. As it turns out, prepositions at the end of a sentence are often the best way to make a point clearly and concisely. Also supporting sentences leading up to a main point typically makes your argument more cogent and convincing.

In terms of music, there are the rules for the masses of children in classrooms around the world, but also rules musicians adopt for themselves based on their musical training and experience. I think of those less as rules and more like an imperfect, but hopefully expansive and ever expanding, understanding of the common experience of music the same way people create their own rules for basic interpersonal communication. In the musician's case, that understanding is heavily tempered by the people he plays with. While I do tend to view my own experiences as rules of a sort, it's the same way I view my writing style. They aren't the rules, just my rules for myself... in particular situations... except when they aren't.

I was referring to the more basic and general rules though.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

Vurbal

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Three more additions for intelligent pop: Cat Stevens, Nillson, and Harry Chapin.

And add in some intelligent pop ladies: Loreena McKinnet, Kate Bush, Chrissy Hynde, and Margie Adam. (@SB -check Margie out here.)
Nilsson!!  I've always considered him a "fifth Beatle".  Incredible vocal range and brilliant songwriter.  :Thmbsup:


All I can say is listen to the song Coconut (as in Put the lime in the...) and it's hard not to call Nilsson a genius. In lesser (even very capable) hands that song would be a steaming pile of excrement. In his hands it's a thing of beauty.
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven't got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The MC5

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ''crackpot'' than the stigma of conformity.
- Thomas J. Watson, Sr

It's not rocket surgery.
- Me


I recommend reading through my Bio before responding to any of my posts. It could save both of us a lot of time and frustration.

40hz

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When speaking of "rules" or "inspiration" and the dynamic between the two it's important to define terms. And it's something I don't think I can do with any hope for accuracy. It's another one of those "a hundred of things need to be said all together" things for me. Possibly because I'm too far into it, and it's become so embedded in my thought process, I no longer have much hope of being able to still experience or understand music from the perspective of a non-musician. I've "passed into The West," so to speak.

However... :)

Bobby McFerrin :-* refers to what I'm calling "rules" by the term "expectations" - which I think may be much closer to what passes for "rules" than a "rule rule" would. At least in music.

So Mr. McFerrin? If you would be so kind:



 :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 12:53:47 PM by 40hz »