Please Don’t Do That


Someone over on facebook did an edit of a music video, and – in thoughtless and talentless homage – accidentally shat all over it. Don’t re-favorite it.

The video clip is of Prince and starts with the title “Prince shreds over Tom Petty.” See what I mean?

That performance is a great performance. It’s an epic performance. It is not merely some competitive bump in Prince’s path, it was a special moment for him, for the audience, and I dare say anyone who’s ever watched it. It was the kind of performance that anyone who was actually there will periodically brag to their friends, “I saw that live. I watched the St Crispians’ Shred.”

New York Times even had an article about how that performance happened. [nyt]

On March 15, 2004, George Harrison was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As part of the ceremony, an all-star band performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” Mr. Harrison’s best-known Beatles song. The group featured Tom Petty and two other members of the Heartbreakers, as well as Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood, Dhani Harrison (George’s son) and Prince, himself an inductee that year. Marc Mann, a guitarist with Mr. Lynne’s band, played Eric Clapton’s memorable solo from the album version of the song. But Prince, who essentially stood in the dark for most of the performance, burned the stage to the ground at the song’s end.

That’s a good summary except “burned the stage to the ground” is faint praise.

The obvious thing – which is why I am ranting this ranty little rant – is to just watch the whole performance. Don’t worry, I’ll link to it at the bottom. The stories about how it happened are cool, and funny.

JOEL GALLEN (producer and director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony) My dream right from the start was, imagine if I can get everybody up onstage at the end of the night to do “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and Prince comes out and does the guitar solos. I wrote basically a personal letter to Prince, care of his lawyer.

I got a call from one of Prince’s guys, a week or two later, saying that Prince was in L.A. and he wanted to have a meeting with me. He said, “You know, I got your letter, I liked the idea, I’m going to listen to the song a few times, and I’ll get back to you.”

A couple weeks later his security guy called me again, and said, “Prince would like to meet with you again.” He said he definitely wants to do the song, he’s definitely going to do it. Both in the initial meeting and the second meeting, he did talk a lot about what we’re going to do with the music, who’s going to own the music — he was concerned like, if he does this, who’s going to own the performance? He wanted to make sure that his performance was not exploited without his knowledge.

It was never Prince “shredding over Tom Petty.” Like any other guitar master with a shred of comprehension, Tom Petty did not get competitive. Great musicians have this way of competing when they jam together, which is competing with themselves and each other to bring out the best. It’s win/win when that magic works and it’s lose/lose when some tired old Eric Clapton phones in a lackluster ‘jam’ in a benefit concert conga line.

TOM PETTY (shared lead vocals with Jeff Lynne on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”) Olivia Harrison [George’s widow] asked me if I would come along and induct George. I was told, “Well, Prince is going to play too,” and I was like, “Wow, that’s fantastic.”

I just think, when I see that stupid facebook share, that someone actually went to the trouble to truncate that performance and try to re-frame it as competition, when all they needed to do was post a link to the whole thing, and let it scream and howl for itself.

That is the “mic drop” of all mic drops. I am endlessly amazed that the end happens so smoothly and perfectly that many people don’t even catch what happened. Prince was so amazing that he did something amazing and mis-directed the audience so they wouldn’t notice how amazing it was. That’s third-degree amazing.

Prince’s jam is showmanship of the highest order – it would be possible for someone who doesn’t even like rock and roll or guitars to go, “OK, yeah, that was pretty amazing.”

------ divider ------

My St Crispians’ rock and roll moments: I was just 11, and we were coming back from France in the summer of 1973 via Icelandair, took a connecting taxi from Kennedy airport to 34th St Penn Station and got stuck in this insane crowd around Madison Sq Garden. We had to get out with our luggage and haul it to catch the late train to Baltimore. And I remember asking my dad “What is a ‘Led Zeppelin’?” Since it involved popular culture, dad naturally had no idea either, so we mushed on. Wish I’d gotten dad to buy me one of those T-shirts… The other time was in 1997 when I was raising $ for my startup, and had investor pitches to make in NYC. So I took the metroliner up in my dapper suit with my snappy metal briefcase and it was raining and I was wearing my old Burberry and my vintage Borsalino (yes, Le Samourai) – I had a 5 block walk over to the investment bank and cut across by Radio City and there was a fucking crowd blocking the sidewalk so I just shoved right the fuck through. I’m a New Yorker, after all. I broke through the other side and then I was thinking “WTF that gomer I told to ‘get the fuck out of my way’ was wearing a velvet fucking English schoolboy outfit?”

Comments

  1. Ice Swimmer says

    Tom Petty did vocals and rhythm guitar, Prince did the main solo and some other lead work without drowning out Petty’s vocals even when he continued the solo under the singing. Both, as well as the rest of the musicians played their parts great. It’s co-operation, not competition.

  2. says

    Ice Swimmer@#1:
    It’s co-operation, not competition.

    Exactly.
    I am quite sure everyone on stage was going, “wow, it’s awesome for me to be on stage with all these amazing guys!”

  3. consciousness razor says

    Honestly, it’s good, but I’m not impressed. (Sorry.) If it’s any consolation, it was never my favorite Beatles’ song anyway.

    It was never Prince “shredding over Tom Petty.”

    I think you might be misunderstanding that. In the last half or so, Prince had the lead guitar solo, while Petty was playing one of the many subordinate parts. Prince’s guitar was “over” Petty’s in a textural sense, and Petty’s vocals were also basically just background support for the solo. That’s just a statement about how it was arranged (which instruments/players were doing what), not a comment about competitiveness, comparing Prince’s skills to Petty’s, or something like that.

    But guitarists do have a weird fixation on using “shredding” to indicate awesomeness or whatever, so it may seem like it’s only fair for Petty to get some awesome word of his own in the description. And I do get why you could read it that way, if you’re not thinking of one part as being metaphorically “over” another in the sense I described. That probably wouldn’t be a very obvious interpretation for most non-musicians.

  4. says

    consciousness razor@#3:
    Honestly, it’s good, but I’m not impressed. (Sorry.) If it’s any consolation, it was never my favorite Beatles’ song anyway.

    Not my favorite song, either.

    And that’s one of the fun things about art – it’s so subjective that “let’s agree to disagree” is not merely rhetorical tactics. Your unimpressedness is notable to me, but we’d have to do a bunch of unpacking to get enough understanding to figure it out. (We’ve done that sort of thing before; this time maybe we shouldn’t?)

    I infer from your analysis that you are more familiar with how music is done than I am, since I appear to have bent some terms of art and not understood what was going on there. I love this kind of stuff but I don’t understand it very well – I don’t want to deconstruct it because I’d rather just listen to it. Though, as I noted in my piece on John Kelley’s breakdowns of Beethoven, one gains new appreciation of great art when someone who understands a piece breaks it down and shines little spotlights on the awesome bits. That’s probably important, come to think, because that way you don’t wind up like I did in the 90s: shocked to learn that “auto tune” was a thing at all. Suddenly I had a whole new axis to analyze things on that went from “is good” to “sounds good” – I felt like I had just learned that people use dope in sports.

    Have you ever heard “there’ll be some changes made” off Mark Knopfler/Chet Atkins Neck and Neck? That’s another piece I suspect is full of inside jokes and guitar player magic that simply flies right over my happy head. I would appreciate if someone could confirm or deny that theory. (I am so musically blockheaded that I didn’t realize Peter Schikelie was making musical jokes. “What? You can tell a joke with music?!”)

    (Edit: perhaps one could prop up another elusive definition of “art” based on that it’s something we can only argue about subjectively! I.e. if you can ask yourself ‘is it art?’ it’s art.)

  5. says

    Oh, yeah, I forgot one of my other rock and roll moments.
    I used to playtest wargames for Avalon Hill down on Read St, and I’d usually haul ass on my bicycle, cutting up by the Lexington Market and down Howard St. Which took me past this place called The Marble Bar which where all the punks and rockers played before they opened up Hammerjacks and the bar closed. Anyhow, so I am asshauling past the Marble Bar and there is this smoky-eyed cheekeboned and bob-haired vision of gothrocker goddessness smoking a cigarette outside. So I was staring when I slammed into the parked car and flipped over the roof onto the hood. Pat Benatar observed this performance and went “heh” and sashayed back inside and I didn’t even feel any pain at all.

  6. starskeptic says

    consciousness razor @3
    That was my first impression and understanding of the use of ‘over’ as well…

  7. jazzlet says

    At the wedding of a friend we were seated at a table with maybe six or eight others most of whom were a lot older than us, but there was one couple nearer us in age and we get talking to them, including the “so what do you do for a living?” question all round.
    The bloke says “I’m a drummer”
    Mr Jazz “Anyone I’d have ever heard of?”
    Bloke “The Animals?”
    Cue acute embarrassment on the part of Mr Jazz particularly as he did know one of our mates’ uncles was in the Animals. Nice bloke, we spent most of the rest f the day/evening with him and his wife.

    Oh and I once apologised to Lee Brilleaux of Dr Feelgood for a very drunk friend of mine who was pretending to shoot him with cocked finger. Then thanked him for the great gig the night before in Hammersmith.

  8. consciousness razor says

    I infer from your analysis that you are more familiar with how music is done than I am, since I appear to have bent some terms of art and not understood what was going on there.

    Yes I am, and that’s perfectly understandable. It’s not exactly a technical term of art that would be useful in a serious analysis, but it’s part of the slang in more informal discussions.

    I love this kind of stuff but I don’t understand it very well – I don’t want to deconstruct it because I’d rather just listen to it. Though, as I noted in my piece on John Kelley’s breakdowns of Beethoven, one gains new appreciation of great art when someone who understands a piece breaks it down and shines little spotlights on the awesome bits.

    Well, try to look at it as you do computer science. I only dabble in some very simple programming here and there, but I don’t think my perspective is too far off the mark. Using computers/programs is nice and all, but making them and understanding how they work is certainly fulfilling all by itself. That also makes you better at using them than others — no doubt you’ve known a lot of people who have no clue what they’re missing. It’s more than passively consuming some awesomeness that somebody else produced, because you can also recognize a poorly designed program, correct mistakes that pop up in your own work, compare the performance of different programs at accomplishing the same or similar tasks, apply your knowledge to design ones that are going to be well-suited for certain tasks or users, and so forth.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever make a convert out of you, but you might talk a lot less about subjectivity in art (or ethics, etc.), if you start to see how objective things like that fit into the picture. Those are the critical bits and pieces that people actually need to make or do any of this stuff, and whatever remaining subjectivity there may be at the very least doesn’t have the far-reaching implications some people tend to assume. It often gets confused with the idea that context matters (one program will be good for this and not that, etc.), but at the end of the day, once all those cobwebs are cleared, you and I being different subjects has very little to do with any of it.

  9. John Morales says

    cr:

    I don’t know if I’ll ever make a convert out of you, but you might talk a lot less about subjectivity in art (or ethics, etc.), if you start to see how objective things like that fit into the picture.

    FFS. If art ain’t subjective, then nothing is.

    (But hey, let’s avoid subjectivity. Music is nothing more and nothing less than noise that is made by people)

  10. says

    consciousness razor@#8:
    I’m sorry – I really screwed the pooch with my explanation, there. Let my try a more comfortable angle.
    In the late 90s I began to realize that I had thoroughly mastered C programming, the BSD kernel, unix networking, and a few other topics I started branching out and exploring whatever I was interested in. I discovered that I could deep-dive a field pretty thoroughly in about 5-10 years but then I began to realize I was running out of time. And, worse, when I started to deep-dive over here, I began to get rusty over there. 2005 or so was when I realized I had to plan my attention strategically because my brain was also getting less nimble and my memory was getting shorter- that was when I proactively decided to maintain my focus in a few key areas at their peak levels (mostly, my professional consulting and analysis, business processes, security) so I could keep the bills paid, and be a deliberate, hardcore dilettante with half my remaining time and to keep 2 focused “serious hobbies” at any time. So I’ll pick up soap-making for a year or two and then it’s “whatever” and I start to squeeze the fun out. Then I move on. It’s painful for me to admit to myself but I just can’t be very good at all the things, and have to manage a small set of things.

    All that said, there are a few fields like music and performance and dance that I am perfectly confident I could do OK at, if I merely invest a decade of working at them. I have had to make a conscious choice not to invest my time and attention on some things, and to choose to remain mostly ignorant, because I have decided to get better at ${whatever} instead. It’s a painful resources management problem and it’s even more painful because I see the end of the main resource, Time, looming in the distance, now. It seems to me that when we have the time and energy, we don’t have the awareness that we need to resource-manage them – until they are both running out.

    Anyhow, shorter version: I’m deliberately a lot ignorant of music, by choice, unfortunately. One cannot do all the things. I choose to engage with Prince’s music at the “well, I’ll be damned!” level and not much deeper than that.

    Music is interesting, too, since it seems to me to lean heavily on our language-processing abilities. There appears to me to be a critical period in which a child can learn to talk with an instrument and, if missed, it’s a slog to make progress. (Much of my thinking about this is from hanging out with a friend who was one of the Suzuki kids and can literally use his violin to chat with people) I played trumpet when I was a kid, and wound up getting to 1st chair in my high school band until the band-leader discovered I had never bothered to learn to read music. Whups. I missed that critical period. I can pick up a programming language very fast (though it has become emotionally painful) and I assume my brain ought to be able to go “music is a language, let’s learn it” but … it just doesn’t get excited by that idea.

  11. John Morales says

    Marcus, if you’ve truly grokked The Art of Computer Programming by Knuth, then I am in awe of you.

  12. John Morales says

    Marcus:

    (Much of my thinking about this is from hanging out with a friend who was one of the Suzuki kids and can literally use his violin to chat with people)

    “Literally”? I very much doubt this, metaphorically. And, obviously, it’s not literally speech coming from his violin.

    (Also, what exactly are “Suzuki kids”?)

  13. says

    John Morales@#12:
    I only focused on Sorting and Searching; the other stuff wasn’t interesting to me (I especially thought he was being silly with TeX and metafont *yawn*) I grokked him thoroughly enough to realize that he was an academic who was building a “museum of programming” and, yeah, have fun with that. It was great to be able to drop in and pull big swathes of ideas from it, though. But when I wanted that, I usually just asked myself how the VMS kernel handled that kind of problem and I’d go see what they did and learn from that. By the way, if you want to get your coding rocks off, take a look at the firmware code for a firewall/switch running in an Octeon processor. That stuff was all designed by old school hardware guys who write stuff of jaw-dropping beauty.

    Knuth was fascinating for years, though. It was like he was a collector of implementations of occasionally interesting things. Let me put it this way: some people collect baseball cards and other people play poker. I was all about taking some theoretical computer scientist’s implementation of something and doing a version that was 1/10 as complex, 20 times as maintainable, that never crashed, and ran 200 times faster. I dunno, I’m weird about that.

    You master the tools you need to use to do all the stuff you want to do, right? If you need B+trees and not Patricia trees you still can’t invest the time to learn the Patricia trees for entertainment because then you’re ignoring K-D trees. (I did have to redo a K-D tree implementation for some star data database search stuff, that had horrible parallelism problems, and I tapped out. Quit that job in 6 months and drove off yelling “nope! nope!” Cool idea but the implementation was so horribly pooched it could only be repaired by nuking it from orbit to be sure)

  14. John Morales says

    Thanks for that, Marcus.

    You master the tools you need to use to do all the stuff you want to do, right?

    Not really. Mastery is not necessary; good enough is sufficient.

    FWIW, my last paid coding was with Borland’s Delphi about 15 years ago — but I did make sure there was no memory leakage or unhandled exceptions. I was (IMO) better than average, but most certainly no master.

    Point being, I’m not comfortable with consciousness razor’s equating programming with musicology. A program is the very opposite of subjective.

  15. says

    John Morales@#13:
    “Literally”? I very much doubt this, metaphorically. And, obviously, it’s not literally speech coming from his violin.

    (peers into the rat-hole)

    Let’s say I can speak French, and English fluently. And by “speak” I mean that my intent to communicate concepts and emotions and ideas is conveyed through my speech center and out through mechanical processes to make air vibrate. Sounds to me like “violin” could be “speech” – it’s going to be pretty awkward to use to tell you about how to secure your network. But violin is probably a better language to tell you about a nice summer day than C is, etc.

    I’m not literally arguing it’s speech, of course. But I think that, were I feeling argumentative, I might. I do think that it is using the same brain subsystems – though I suppose we won’t know if that’s true or not for a few more decades.

    (Also, what exactly are “Suzuki kids”?)

    D T Suzuki was a Japanese music teacher who developed a system for teaching violin to kids that basically involved: give kid violin really early and make them fiddle with it a lot until it becomes an extension of their will. It’s basically the same idea as, you know, give Eddie Van Halen piano lessons at 6. Suzuki was teaching the kids of New York 60s elite, and was able to arrange recitals at Carnegie Hall, and so forth – so his method became a big deal for a while. My friend (who, to put it mildly, plays a violin really well) says it was a process of early exposure and reinforcement. There are a lot of areas where we see “child prodigies” are exposed to something very early on and they adopt it at a very profound level.

    Edit: D T Suzuki had a Gom Jabbar. ;)

  16. says

    John Morales@#16:
    I’m not comfortable with consciousness razor’s equating programming with musicology. A program is the very opposite of subjective.

    I’m firmly on the fence about it, myself.

    I think I agree with consciousness razor’s oft-stated position that we can talk about our experiences and we can triangulate on objective definitions we’re comfortable with and that’s as “objective” as we need to get. A lot of this stuff about how we think is (obviously) fascinating to me, mostly because it’s a complicated problem. And I do think that we can figure it out, or close enough.

  17. John Morales says

    OK, I get it. Suzuki’s method seems to me to be ideal for autistic people. Me, I find violins very annoying due to their high pitch. But yeah.

    But violin is probably a better language to tell you about a nice summer day than C is, etc.

    What? Are you being serious?!

    In C, I could write printf("It's a nice summer day.").
    What is the violin equivalent?

    (And don’t get me started on movie soundtracks; they mostly annoy me — yeah, I’m sufficiently acculturated to know whether it’s supposedly triumphant or sombre or suspenseful or whatever music, but I’d much rather experience my own emotions without prompting. Nevermind when it interferes with dialogue)

  18. oldmanbynow says

    While the shredding at the end was technically impressive–and Prince, ever the artist, thankfully did build slowly into the shredding–it was just too many notes. To me, Prince’s outro solo totally failed to capture the mood or lyricism of the song. It was much more about Prince than about Harrison, or even Clapton. And, thank you, but Prince’s guitar was not weeping gently; not at all. Very sad, when you think about it, that so great an artist could miss a chance to capture such a moment; but Prince was not about other people’s music; he was about his own. By contrast, even with all his ego, Clapton was about other people’s music. So, he knew his opportunity when Harrison invited him to play: and he made the fills, and those solos, into a Sistine Chapel for George Harrison. Now that was a real tribute.

  19. consciousness razor says

    John:

    FFS. If art ain’t subjective, then nothing is.

    (But hey, let’s avoid subjectivity. Music is nothing more and nothing less than noise that is made by people)

    I know you value consistency, and on the surface, it seems like you can’t decide which is true. At any rate, you’re not presently offering a method of making that determination. I bet we’re closer to agreement than you might think, but let me just say that I don’t believe it’s an all or nothing choice. There are subjective elements to it, certainly, but we shouldn’t blow that out of proportion and let it eat the whole thing for breakfast, because that approach doesn’t help us understand much of anything. That means it just isn’t practical or productive. It may not be your concern, which is perfectly fine, but I want explanations and a framework that I can take seriously, which will be useful for making more of it.

    Marcus:

    I played trumpet when I was a kid, and wound up getting to 1st chair in my high school band until the band-leader discovered I had never bothered to learn to read music. Whups. I missed that critical period. I can pick up a programming language very fast (though it has become emotionally painful) and I assume my brain ought to be able to go “music is a language, let’s learn it” but … it just doesn’t get excited by that idea.

    I don’t think it’s very much like a language. Just an idle suggestion, but it can help to think of Western notation as having more in common with a graph, not as something with the kind of semantic content that can be “read” and understood, as in natural or programming languages. It’s very stylized and based on a lot of rather arcane/arbitrary conventions developed centuries ago, but musical events are represented in two dimensions, frequency and time, corresponding to vertical and horizontal on each staff system on a page. That’s where the notes live, so to speak,* and a score is a way of depicting them, not a way of telling something like a story.

    The other bits you see, like dynamics and articulations and such, simply overlay additional info that is independent of either. And for example a new tempo indication recalibrates the time/horizontal dimension. In another sense, it’s a series of instructions: the composer is the programmer, and the performer’s job is to carry out the instructions, which are represented as I just described. I think many people, including very experienced musicians, don’t often appreciate that notation was designed to give (human) performers more or less what they need, only by looking at a score (not by privately knowing beforehand what the composer wanted, etc.); it’s not designed for the theoretical purpose of understanding/explaining what’s happening or how people experience it. The many peculiarities of our notation system often just get in the way of the latter task, so it helps not to become too caught up in that.

    *I don’t want this to become too technical, but the theorist in me isn’t happy with what I had said above. The kicker is that pitch-class space, AKA the frequency dimension, is actually circular like the integers modulo 12, given octave equivalence. So “up” and “down” are going around a circle in either direction. There’s an important sense in which notes don’t live perceptually on a line segment, like the left end of the piano to the right end, since we human beings hear an A-flat in a particular octave as being “equivalent” (not identical) to all of the other A-flats. That’s also related to physically significant facts about sounds, not just something our wacky brains happened to make up one day which doesn’t correspond to anything real. (Your trumpet’s harmonic series, if you remember anything about it, is an example of how objects actually behave under certain fairly ordinary circumstances, not something we’re merely imagining or inventing.)

    Anyway, there are just different shapes or patterns in abstract spaces like that. The visual/spatial parts of your brain have lots of information to play with (even though you’re not normally seeing anything as a result), in addition to areas usually concerned with language and so forth. In that way, it’s analogous to visually-oriented activities like drawing or sculpting.

  20. Holms says

    There is nothing stopping a musical instrument becoming medium for communication, even a replacement for speech. Speech after all is simple a collective awareness that certain phoneme arrangements equal words with a generally accepted meaning, which can be pieced together to express more complicated thoughts. The same can be applied to musical notes, in that notes can be arranged in varied ways analogous to words and can have meanings associated with them; this sequence ending on this note means ‘today’ but if it ends on that note it means tomorrow etc. etc. Is that the sort of music = language you are referring to, Marcus?

    That said, claiming “there is nothing stopping” this process is probably being a bit disingenuous. There is nothing that makes this process literally impossible – we are ‘simply’ swapping one sound medium for another – but the sheer impracticality of it renders it far too difficult to bother with, and for no gain whatsoever.

    (And don’t get me started on movie soundtracks; they mostly annoy me — yeah, I’m sufficiently acculturated to know whether it’s supposedly triumphant or sombre or suspenseful or whatever music, but I’d much rather experience my own emotions without prompting. Nevermind when it interferes with dialogue)

    Dear god yes. The little flute trills to punctuate a ‘funny’ gag in particular are sure to render it less funny than before; when it is blatant, a musical score may as well just be a ‘laugh now / gasp now / groan now’ sign blinking on to tell you what the scene is supposed to evoke.

  21. says

    Holms@#22:
    Is that the sort of music = language you are referring to, Marcus?

    Yeah, and you said it better than I did; thank you.

    That said, claiming “there is nothing stopping” this process is probably being a bit disingenuous.

    I wasn’t trying to be disingenuous but I’ll plead “guilty” to first degree awkwardness and flailing around at ideas.

    Underlying most of what I have been saying in this conversation is the idea that other animals sing and communicate and it seems suspiciously obvious that human use of language is a radically superior construction atop the basic gear evolution gave other animals. Then we’re into the rathole of the degree to which language and cognition are so inter-dependent that they are (are they?) facets of the same thing and we’re off to the … uh, Rathole500 race.

    I think about this stuff and I start going, “is a whale’s vocalizations a ‘song’ or ‘speech’?” Obviously, I want to just ask the damn whale.

  22. Owlmirror says

    Music is nothing more and nothing less than noise that is made by people

    And people are featherless bipeds. With broad nails.

    (Not sure where I’m going with this, or even if I am going anywhere.)
    Although I should probably ask: What, if anything, is birdsong?

    And another thought: You could probably program a computer/music synthesizer such that it outputs completely random notes or sounds at first, which over time become more and more structured, either becoming a specific existing tune, or using Markov chains or similar to become something that is recognizably like a specific genre of music.

    Would anyone argue that the sounds at the beginning are the same as what it changes into?

    One more semirandom musical question: Does anyone else hear the lyrics in this multipiano midi?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY6h3pKqYI0

    (Really not sure where I’m going with any of this)

  23. consciousness razor says

    Would anyone argue that the sounds at the beginning are the same as what it changes into?

    They couldn’t be the same, since by hypothesis it changes. But that’s not an objection to the claim that aleatoric music and the like is “real” music, if that’s what you’re aiming for. That’s not what changes from beginning to end.

    Those kinds of works just don’t share certain features with ones of the more definite or predefined variety that you’re accustomed to, which isn’t a matter disqualifying one or the other. Without realizing it, you might even be familiar with some forms of chance or indeterminateness or what have you, works that float in and out of it in various ways, and you may even like it.

    For example: Mingus, The Shoes of the Fisherman’s Wife Are Some Jive Ass Slippers.

    And of course a lot of noise in all sorts of electronic music is more or less random…. Even the timbre of a distorted electric guitar in more traditional music ought to count, no? At some level, even the sound of something as simple as snapping your fingers is never literally under your complete control. We just can’t do that sort of thing. It doesn’t seem like it should matter whether it’s controlled or intended or predictable, since in practice that’s always going to be a matter of degree anyway.

    One more semirandom musical question: Does anyone else hear the lyrics in this multipiano midi?

    The vocals are part of the massive number of MIDI tracks, so presumably some of that information remains. But if I didn’t already know the song, I’m sure I couldn’t transcribe the lyrics accurately.

  24. John Morales says

    cr,

    John:

    FFS. If art ain’t subjective, then nothing is.
    (But hey, let’s avoid subjectivity. Music is nothing more and nothing less than noise that is made by people)

    I know you value consistency, and on the surface, it seems like you can’t decide which is true. At any rate, you’re not presently offering a method of making that determination. I bet we’re closer to agreement than you might think, but let me just say that I don’t believe it’s an all or nothing choice. There are subjective elements to it, certainly, but we shouldn’t blow that out of proportion and let it eat the whole thing for breakfast, because that approach doesn’t help us understand much of anything. That means it just isn’t practical or productive. It may not be your concern, which is perfectly fine, but I want explanations and a framework that I can take seriously, which will be useful for making more of it.

    First of all, I want to make it clear that I personally enjoy music — where I was going is that there are entire genres I don’t like, and others that I only accept as music because it’s a form of art and others are happy to call it music. The arrangement of sounds that have been called music include the elements mentioned in other comments, but also things like “found sounds” such as traffic or machinery noises.

    So that’s where I come from about its subjectivity — what is music to some is not to others. I grant that when it comes to particular genres then there are certain rules that apply, so in that sense it’s objective.

    In passing, I share oldmanbynow’s sentiment. That guitar was not gently weeping, it was screaming.

  25. Ketil Tveiten says

    That solo was pretty much what all of Prince’s music has always been to me: the guy is clearly very good, but *shrug* mneh, doesn’t really do it for me.

  26. jazzlet says

    Marcus #11

    Bloke “The Animals?”

    (chokes on his tea)

    Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction as I didn’t know our friend had an uncle in The Animals. Though I think it was beer. Luckily by the time this happened we’d already been chatting for a while or I’d probably have been that annoying fan when he was at a family do.

  27. Holms says

    #23

    That said, claiming “there is nothing stopping” this process is probably being a bit disingenuous.

    I wasn’t trying to be disingenuous but I’ll plead “guilty” to first degree awkwardness and flailing around at ideas.

    A slight amendment to my line that you quoted: replace ‘disingenuous’ with ‘glib’ or perhaps ‘overly reductive.’ This way the connotation of intentional dishonesty is removed.

  28. Desert Son, OM says

    Anyhow, so I am asshauling past the Marble Bar and there is this smoky-eyed cheekeboned and bob-haired vision of gothrocker goddessness smoking a cigarette outside. So I was staring when I slammed into the parked car and flipped over the roof onto the hood. Pat Benatar observed this performance and went “heh” and sashayed back inside and I didn’t even feel any pain at all.

    This is one of the best rock and roll stories I’ve ever heard.

    Thank you.

    Still learning,

    Robert

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