Saturday, 16 March 2013

Is it wrong Part II

So, got a karaoke machine. Actually had a small party and hired a machine for the night. Was a lot of fun.

A good stress relief as well.

Machine arrived during the week and just setting it up now

So, now I am the kind of person who has a karaoke machine in their house . . . not sure if I saw that one coming. Although I guess on every level it was somehow inevitable.

Need to take guitar lessons as well now . . .

Monday, 4 March 2013

Learning to Love . . .Jazz

Back again, am getting into the hang of writing a bit more regularly and I hope you are liking it.

So Jazz, yes I know, Jazz

I had a look but was unable to find the specific reference, but I am sure that I am on record saying that I hate Jazz. The Ruminator hates Jazz, doesn't quite have the same ring to it as Johnny hates Jazz does it?

Why did I hate Jazz and what has changed? Well , to me Jazz typifies that worst part of the musical snobbery. The type that looks down its nose at the 2 minutepop song, and laughs at the teenage angst of punk, sneers at urban agression and sniggers at metal. It sits there, all smug and satisfied and says, you know I am music for adults.  Except that of course it doesn't, because it is music and whilst we can argue all music has personality, it does not have attitude in itself, because it is just squiggles on a piece of paper.

Music gets its personality from the people that make it and the people that listen to it. After all, if no one ever hears a piece of music does it actually exist? (no smart arse comments about blogs that no one reads please)

Try this, it is an endurance test

On youtube that is called 'Sexy Smooth Jazz' . Now I am sorry but anything that has to describe itself as sexy, isn't, and smooth? Well if by smooth they mean really boring and unadventurous , then I guess it is smooth. The point being that people that need to be told this are as bad as the people that need to describe it as this. Anybody who needs to be told what mood to be in when they listen to a piece of music is clearly taking a short cut to thinking for themselves. So, as you can imagine they are not the people I would like to discuss music with. Although it is fun to be mean to them. Like teasing a dumb dog. (so who is a snob now? I get the irony)

The thing I found about the people that like it was that they always seemed to have an affection for it because they thought that was what they were supposed to do. That is what it meant to be a sophisticate. There is nothing sophisticated about painting by numbers, nor listening to music by numbers.

My introduction to came about because my Dad loved and still loves traditional Jazz, Trad Jazz. Think along these exact lines.

Now please do not get me wrong. I am not saying that is a bad piece of music. It isn't. But it really doesn't appeal to me in any way. It comes from an age I have no relation to. It , to my ears anyway, lacks a passion or an intensity. I guess that is a time thing as well as I imagine when it first came out it was fresh and new and maybe intense. At least in some way, otherwise we wouldn't still know about it today.

To my ear, a lot of Trad Jazz sounds pretty similar. Although, to be clear, I am not talking about the jazz singers. The singers are able to inject the music with a heart. Think Ella Fitzgerald. You listen to that not because the music is great. But because her voice and the sadness and triumph in it is so amazing.

So, disliked Jazz, disliked Jazz people. Enjoyed the jazz singers but only sporadically. Left it at that. I was fine with it, and the universe seemed to be as well.

I was looking for a music documentary to watch. I love a good documentary as you know. There is a great one called ' 1959, The year that changed Jazz'. It of course went through 'Something Blue' by Miles Davis. Which of course had crossed my path at times. I actually listened to it this time though. it is very good. But that is obviously the most obvious part of 'modern' jazz.

It also went through Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus. Listen to this

That is the first track off the album. That is cool. that has some swagger and it appears to have a heart as well. It went into a little detail about Charles Mingus. Who was basically appears to have had one of the best musical tempers of all time. His widow describes with some boredom how people come up to her the repeatedly and describe the amzing loss of temper they saw. It seems to be mainly over what he thought should be happening in music.

They also went through Dave Brubeck, you will have heard this

I am not sure exactly how to describe the reasons why I like that track. It has something of a 60s film in it. I am sure a search would reveal the film, but that is not the point. There is a light in the music. Something that is both airy and serious at the same time. I think that the passing of time has made it a bit ubiquitous, but is still sounds very fresh.

The last album that they talked abut was this one, and it is much more challenging. Ornette Coleman's The shape of Jazz to come.

Whereas Dave Brubeck was all light, there is a much seedier, dark undertone to that piece called Eventually. All the stuff I love.

So, I found four albums that I like. It turns out these are about the four most famous Jazz albums there are, excluding jazz singers again.

What does it all mean? I guess if there is to be a moral to this little story it would be start things at the beginning. Or perhaps it is a case of let the experts separate the wheat from the chaff for you and then start getting involved. I think that I am perhaps a little more interested in these albums because the documentary gave me some insight into the people and their passion for the music. It also helps that it is ground breaking and inventive music in many ways.

I can not sit and listen to this music for long periods of time. Not like I can to Tool , Opeth, Aphex Twin, or other similarly intricate music. After I listen to it, I still hanker for something faster and a little more modern. But at least I am not turning it off now. I guess that is as good as it is going to get with Jazz.

It will have to do for now.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Is it wrong?

Is it wrong that I bought a Karaoke machine?

Is Karaoke cool? Does it matter?

This was going to be a 2 line post. But now I am a little intrigued , why? Well because it taps into the very heart of music.

Should participating in music, albeit at the most basic, primitive level, have a cool or not sticker on it? Look, I get that singing karaoke has nothing to do with being a musician, or does it have anything to do with creativity. But, if you can sing a song note perfect and properly phrased, then surely you are more musical than some one who can't. (this is not me by the way, I am told I can sing a little bit. My idols are people like Bruce Dickinson - however I can't and will not ever be able to sing like this)

The point being, many many of us have sung into a hairbrush, or in front of a mirror , or something similar. Many more of us have sung along at a concert. What is the difference if you supplant yourself into the lead singer role? I guess the reason for not doing this is because we make such an awful hash of it.

However, there are people that can sing like that and do at Karaoke, should we cast our derision on them because they are not cool? Well to be honest if they go on X-Factor or Pop idol yes. That is only because it is the music industry using a 15 minute fame idea to re-hash old songs and make money and has nothing to do with moving music forward. The people that do this and expect to be anything other than a short lived singles chart name are delusional. That said, there is that girl that one an Oscar isn't there?

I guess the other issue is, should being perceived as cool have anything to do with what music you like? Or in this case, like to sing? Obviously it shouldn't. Do you think though that someone who is note perfect in a Sonic Youth song is cooler than someone who is the same in a Michael Bolton song?

Hard to argue for that one isn't it? We know it shouldn't matter. I know you read the first part of that and said to yourself that of course you do not judge people on their music taste. But really? honestly? you don't?

I do. I have to say that because there is so much evidence of it in the 100+ posts on this blog.

Anyway, as I said this was supposed to be a short post. I am looking forward to getting Karaoke machine for the house and who knows, I may even sing Khe Sahn and some Beatles songs.

I will expand on this topic in the learning to Love series, but for now I would appreciate your thoughts.