Tuesday 16 August 2011

The Waveform of Awesome

Time grows short, with Root Hill just four days away and 7 questions still unanswered.  And at this moment in time, I shall pick up on a question about time-based media, Question 3: "How would you describe your taste in music?"

The simplest way to summarise would be to say I like classical and neo-classical music, but that's a bit reductionist.  It ignores the fact that some classical music can be a bit boring even for those who generally enjoy classical, and there are some things I'd listen to quite happily even though they really stretch the bounds of neoclassical if not outright overstep them.  And then there are the things I'd call neoclassical but others wouldn't - e.g. Yanni apparently prefers to call his music 'contemporary instrumental', while others would classify it as 'new age', and although it has some classical traits, it's equally non-classical at the same time.

I enjoy music which has a meaningful melody and/or texture, emotional connotation, etc.  I have no time for the hyper-abstract arty-farty noises some people pass off as music, e.g. serialism (yes, techically very clever perhaps, but utterly meaningless to listen to), and at the other extreme I equally dislike the inexplicably popular genre of rubbish that seems to consist of a drumbeat, maybe two bars of melody on an endless loop, and some hollow, repetitive lyrics about a soured relationship (in other words, all pop music, and several other things too).

My approach to lyrical work may seem, at first glance, to be a bit self-contradictory, but there's some method in my madness.  Ideally, if there are going to be lyrics, then they should make sense.  This explains why the huge majority of lyrical work which I like is of Christian origin - so much easier to enjoy a song if you agree with what it's saying.  If you have to be familiar with something else to appreciate the song, that's fine - so long as I'm familiar with the other thing, of course - for example, Still Alive and Want You Gone would probably have lost me, except I already knew enough about Portal to get what they were on about.  Ditto the entire Trock subgenre, re: Doctor Who.  But then, there are other things I like where the lyrics most definitely don't make the blindest bit of sense at all, e.g. Adiemus.  The difference is that in Adiemus, the 'words' aren't real words at all, and they're only there for textural effect, so their non-grammatic nature doesn't bother me.  What bothers me is all that stuff in between, where there are real words strung together in some semblance of real grammar, and they seem to be 'about' something, but they're inaudible under the drums, badly-written, or both.  E.g. all pop music... again.

A lot of my music collection has some connection to the screen, partly because screen music is very often the type that I like anyway, and partly because listening to the score often brings on the same mood as watching the film / TV show, hence why I've got the soundtracks of the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy, and several CDs of Doctor Who.  (By the way, Hannah, I hope you're appreciating all these favourable mentions of your favourite show!)  I have a special soft spot for the scores Tim's written for my films.

And then there are the other ones.  The pieces which don't follow any of my usual criteria, but which I like anyway for various strange and obscure reasons.  Case in point: Safety Dance.  Basically, it's a pop song.  It doesn't make much sense at all.  Its obsession with dancing is completely at odds with my preference for not dancing.  But I like it anyway, because of the fact that I heard it for the first several times during Root Hill 2010, which means that I always associate it with, well, Root Hill.  And it's a happy song, even if it is somewhat deranged.

Sam's questions, #3: "If you could buy any car (money No Object) what would it be?"

Something British and sophisticated with a big engine and a leather interior.  Probably a Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar or Aston Martin.  Maybe one of each.

Time for stats:
  • Twenty Questions status: 14 down, 6 to go
  • Days until Root Hill: 4
  • Latest book read: Operation Mincemeat (nearly finished!)
  • Latest film/TV watched: Red Dwarf 1.3 and 1.4
  • Latest music listened to: Martian Medicine OST by Tim Johnston
  • Latest edible item eaten: Cadbury's Dairy Milk
  • Predominant colour of clothes: Grey
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Windows Media Player, Microsoft Office Word and Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1; Blogspot Dashboard; Blogspot Create Post)
  • Webcomics posted today: Cylinder and Miserable #1337; Fort Paradox bonus material

- The Colclough


  1. *listens to Safety Dance* Oh.Good.Grief... I'm scarred for life. As far as I could see, it was a classic case of "drumbeat, looped melody and pointless, looped lyrics". And the singer apparently was friends with PP (dude...), from the amount of C5 induced dancing involved. Ooh, and you'll be pleased to know it follows the same form as Trifle almost exactly, up to and including the random key change at the end.

    Apart from that, I'd more or less agree with your tastes. (Some) Minimalism is good too, mainly thanks to Koyaanisqatsi. And Haydn needs a mention in the Hall of Awesomeness. Just because he's awesome. And he wrote his last London Symphony. Which is (also) awesome. 8]

  2. i'm sorry, Tim. perverse, isn't it. if it's any comfort, i didn't choose to like it on purpose. it wormed its way into my brain under special circumstances, and won't go away. i'd never thought about the PP/C5 connection before, but i'd agree now you mention it.

  3. I ended up sitting through the whole of safety dance... and having a slight nostalgic moment... Also yay for lots of mention of Doctor Who!