Indablog // Opinion - Indaba Music
News, Sessions and oddities from the Indaba Community
Friday April 02, 2010 at 05:16 PM
Acoustic vs. Electric
In my opinion, ever since the first electronic musical device was plugged in, there’s been a love/hate relationship between the acoustic and electronic crowds. This debate has permeated into every facet of the music world, and whole billion-dollar industries have been built on these electronic inventions. From electric guitars to auto-tune, the argument of pro vs. con has been a fierce back and forth. On one hand, electricity has shaped the face of music more than anything else in the past, let’s say, 100 years. It’s given us recording, amplification, the theremin, DAWs, synthesizers, and VSTs. On the other, as purists would argue, it has tainted the purity of true acoustic sound.
I’m always trying to look back and read about classic performances and pieces written, and I can’t fathom how difficult it must have been before electricity to seek out and listen to new music. You really had to actively, everyday if you were serious, go out to concert halls and small venues to see live music. Budding composers and musicians couldn’t pick up an album from a store of iTunes and sample a large selection of music, they were stuck with what was local, or where they could travel. The closest they had to buying records was purchasing the newest sheet music which they would have to play on the piano, or get together into small chamber groups and local orchestras to try it out. Or else, they would have to venture outside to take part in parties and social events to learn the newest songs en vogue; music was not a bedroom affair. When is the last time you went out to hear a 100% un-amplified, pure set of acoustic music? No sound guy, no mixing board, no speakers, no microphones, but totally acoustic. Music where singers have to figure out how to cut through the instrumentation, and where musicians have to rise to the pinnacle of their musicianship to balance out the sound. In such performances, of course, the sonic quality is pristine; the sound waves travel direct from instrument to ear. To put it one way, the first time Freddie Green tried to plug in an amp, the rest of Count Basie’s band became extremely agitated.
Yet, in today’s world, this is never the norm. Amplification becomes essential especially when you want to play small ensembles in a large hall. However, the “hating” on acoustic music comes more from the purists who were turned off when synthesis and the theremin showed up. Maybe they felt like someone was treading on their holy territory. I think it comes down to purity. Personally, I wouldn’t trade a real piano for anything. The feel, the way the keys move, the sounds it creates based on the natural vibrating of a string. However, I love synthesis and developing different sounds. Having said this, I can relate to purists when I’m forced to play a piano patch on a keyboard, or a piano sample in the studio- it’s trying. There is no vibration, no overtones created by the lower strings, no action to have a push and pull against. In these cases, I always try to pull out my Rhodes patch and sit on that, which is usually bearable.
Things have become increasingly electronic. This is a good thing. Production in Hip-Hop (and especially R&B) seems, at least to me, to be moving from MPC, ASR-10 sample chopping to AU, VST synthesis and sample manipulation. This pushes the envelope. Even producers who would otherwise have just used an MPC, like Jim Jonsin, now use their MPC as a controller for Logic, and sometimes, like T-Pain, just nix the MPC all together in favor of a MIDI Keyboard/Laptop setup. Even live keyboardists, guitarists, drummers, and sometimes, horn players, are plugging in their instruments to their laptop to have greater flexibility over their sound. If any lasting good has come out of the fusion jazz era (which my friends and I refer to, jokingly, as the jazz dark ages. Though, not to say fusion itself was bad, acoustic jazz just went dark), it was the experimentation with new types of equipment in revolutionary ways, MIDI having been a very new invention in 1983.
Hopefully, experimentation will continue; however, I also hope the beauty of “acousticism” won’t be lost on the upcoming generation (or this one!).
Tuesday December 29, 2009 at 12:27 PM
When the baroque period came around, and all the “rules” of western harmony were etched into stone for the subsequent generations of musicians, art became surrounded by the need for strength and opulence. There was no room for the observation of nature when the newly threatened catholic church needed to show its grandiose by flaunting God’s power through the construction of monumental works like the St. Mark’s Basilica and Bernini’s design of the Piazza San Pietro. Then came the return to humanism during the classical era, when most art was focused on the ideals of the enlightenment. As all minds were set on defining the perfect position of man in the order of the universe, there was still no time for focus on God’s inferior creations.
Finally, with the rise and slow descent into senility and deafness that afflicted Beethoven, the most well respected and serious instrumental music composer in the world began to take nature seriously. Perhaps, and I speculate, Beethoven took his daily walks through the gardens and outskirts of Vienna to absorb as much of the world as he would lose as he became deaf. Or maybe, he was trying to reconnect with the joys of childhood and the outdoors. Well, whatever the reason, Beethoven began producing music to reflect his view of nature. It led him to write the 6th symphony, the Pastoral symphony, one of Beethoven’s pieces of programmatic music, about the country life. This symphony, the first symphony with titled movements, was premiered at the same concert as the more famous 5th, but was better received by the audience.
Beethoven’s dive into the sounds of nature gave future composers the courage, and more importantly, the precedent, to pay more attention to our tree and animal cohorts. Notably, Oliver Messiaen, the French modern composer and distinguished educator, created a piece based completely around bird song (check out Messiaen on birds here). Messiaen loved birds. He would even go out into the garden and transcribe the songs of individual birds.
Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine about David Teie, a Cellist with the National Symphony, who wanted to write a series of pieces based on the calls of monkeys. He recorded the calls of Cotton-Top tamarins, took them to his cello, and wrote pieces depicting their “calm” vocalization, and their “agitated” vocalization. Teamed with scientists who study the Tamarins, they found that the pieces had a serious effect on the tamarin behavior. As a control, they played the tamarins some human music, which they did not respond to (except for Metallica which had a calming effect). Then they played the music written specifically for the tamarins. These pieces came together as Teie hoped, the “calming” pieces relaxed the tamarins and the “agitating” pieces provoked nervousness (you can hear the pieces here.
Then, of course, there are the animals themselves. Perhaps the most famous composers in the Animal Kingdom are the Humpback Whales. They produce some of the most complex music in the Animal Kingdom. Their songs are remarkably complex, using repeating harmonics, rhythms, and movements- probably the closest to human music there is (check out this awesome repository of whale song). Yet, each animal has their own unique sounds. Has anyone ever auto-tuned a duck?
Thursday December 24, 2009 at 08:00 AM
The holiday season creates the ultimate nostalgia. Familiar decorations spring up practically overnight after the Thanksgiving weekend. Lights show up on houses throughout the neighborhood. In New York, the tree goes up at Rockafeller center and the Bryant Park ice skating rink opens up. Sometimes, if we’re lucky here in the North, we’ll have the first snow sometime during the eight days of Hanukkah, or even a white Christmas. But for me, nothing opens the holiday flood gates wider than the first holiday song. Also, for me, it means pulling the holiday repertoire out of my mental stores, in preparation for a multitude of piano requests.
For the music business, I think the holidays hold a special place. I always remember the Nick Hornsby book and movie “About A Boy”, where Will, Hugh Grant’s character, lives off the money generated by the fictional Christmas song “Santa’s Super Sleigh”. This movie probably marked the first time I ever gave thought to licensing and royalties. What was even more jarring for me was the story my father told me about growing up in Greenwitch Village. He was friends with a man named David Marks, whose father Johnny Marks wrote the holiday favorite “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. Johnny Marks was exactly like Will from “About A Boy”, he lived in his brownstone, quietly, and always in a bathrobe- or so says my father.
Where did this commercialization of the holidays come from? Songs in the standard repertoire are often recycled, even in today’s pop market, but none are more aggressively recycled than holiday songs. Everything from “Rudolph” to Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” go through different versions and are played reliably over and over again, year after year. For example, “The Christmas Song”, written by Mel Torme, but made popular by Nat Cole, has spawned more covers than I care to note. Some radio stations, after a certain date, play ONLY holiday songs.
I’m not trying to say that the “commercialization” of holiday music is a bad thing, merely that it happened, and the musical holiday output has been based around it. Music has always been an arm of celebration, it’s just that the tone of this celebration has changed through the years. Surely, early holiday music had much more to do with the “holy” than with the “money”. For example, the hanukkah song “Ma’oz Tzur”, written in the 13th century, is a song about the temple in Jerusalem and God as the “Rock of Ages”, a far cry from Adam Sandler. Likewise, songs like “O Holy Night” and many other like songs were directly about the birth of Jesus, and were written to spread the story of Christmas. What has happened is the replacement of the religious need for God by the secular need for holiday music without God.
I think what it really is, is what I touched on before. What people really yearn for during the holiday season is the need for nostalgia. When I hear that first holiday song, it reminds of family, of previous holidays, of home, of happiness, of getting presents as a kid, of the past. Surely, this experience is different for different people. Of course, these are just my thoughts on the state of the holidays, and I hope you out there in Indabaland will comment below on what the holidays and holiday music mean to you.
Monday September 14, 2009 at 08:00 AM
We’ve all seen the cheezy music on the endcaps at the local Walmart. Supposedly those CDs will calm you and, (more than likely), bore you into bliss. I can’t get behind listening to those discs, even for their theraputic properties. However after a bit of research, I’ve discovered that you won’t have to listen to Yanni to activate the healing properties of music. There has been a general awarness of music’s healing power since the time of Plato and Aristotle. Music is an integral part of people’s lives all over the world and is a universal language that has inherent abilities to stimulate the mind, body and emotions.
During both World Wars, doctors and nurses used the beneficial properties of music on patients suffering physical and emotional traumas. This led to the modern incarnation of the music therapy field. Music therapy, according to the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), is a well-established health profession similar to occupational therapy and physical therapy that uses music to address physical, psycological, cognitive, behavioral and social functioning.
“Music therapy is used to bring about changes within an individual and bring about personal growth,” said Dr Dellasega, professor of music therapy and coordinater of the Music Degree Program at Slippery Rock University. She said music therapists work in a variety of settings, including physical rehabilitation centers, psychiatric facilities, prisons, nursing homes, school systems for special-needs students, and general hospitals. Music therapy has been effectively used by professionals to treat people with myriad health problems ranging from physical disabilities, mental health disorders, chronic pain, cancer, substance abuse problems, AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, brain injuries, and learning disablitlies.
The hope with integrated medicine is that the least invasive medical practices will be tried first. Since music therapy and other alternative therapies are non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical, they are very safe treatments for patients because no surgery is performed and no drugs are administered, which eliminates the possibility of negative side effects from drugs, Dellasega said. Almost all Music therapists emphasize that music therapy is not just a passive listening technique, and works more effectively when using hands-on forms, such as making music, singing and composing. The positive therapeutic attributes of music lie in the emotional and neurological aspects people have with music. The associations we form with songs and music stay with us throughout life, and that plugs into the emotional responses we have. The sounds, vibrations, and rhythms of music create a whole-brain and even a whole-body experience that is effective in treating neuralgic disorders as well as physical disorders. Adding music helps stimulate the brain to be more active in sending electrical messages to the muscles and limbs in people with brain injuries and developmental disorders. The physiological properties of music like sound, vibrations and rhythm activate the body, mind, and emotions. Everybody has self-medicated with music at some time.
Monday August 24, 2009 at 08:00 AM
Concerts are great: the music, the people, the kids at home, wondering where mommy and daddy are. Yes, we all love a good concert but there are a few things that can really destroy the experience. Here, in order of least-annoying to most-give-me-my-money-back, are 10 real quick ways to ruin a good concert.
Much like I enjoy the idea of communism – that everybody has an equal amount and nobody is more important than the next man – but would hate seeing it come to fruition, so goes my thoughts for the idea of a sweaty pit of writhing bodies. When I think about being at a crowded, hot, humid concert I like to imagine myself lost in the music, my fellow revelers and I giving ourselves over to the power of dance and moving as one being to the beat. Of course, when I actually am at hot, humid, crowded shows I hate it. It may look good in an ad for vodka or as a pictorial in Rolling Stone but the reality of being packed into a dancehall like cattle with a few thousand other sweaty, stinking music fans is a little too much for me to handle. In those situations, no matter what the band or how much I like them, I have to make my way to the back of the venue, find a water and curse myself for being so fat and sweaty that I can’t even enjoy the show.
9. Crappy Bathrooms
Now, literally speaking every bathroom is crappy (PUN INTENDED!) but I think certain concert toilets go above and beyond disgusting. The fact that music brings out our primal nature to dance also apparently brings out some people’s primal nature when it comes to relieving themselves. Choosing a stall or port-o-potty at a concert is like playing Russian Roulette; at least one of the options is going to have a nice, fat turn laying on top of the seat or be flooded with pee from an overflowing pot. I don’t mean to be disgusting here, but it’s hard to enjoy a show when you have to wade through a sewer just to take a leak. And aside from the general filthiness of concert bathrooms, the simple lack of bathrooms is another frequent problem at most venues. As a dude I am not accustomed to waiting on line to use a toilet, so the prospecty of missing a three or four full songs all while waiting to pee is enough to make me consider peeing my pants and pretending it’s spilled beer.
8. Bad Weather
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, who cares what the weather is if the show is inside?” Wrong. While bad weather can ruin an outdoor show (or make it amazing. See: Woodstock ‘69 (not ’99)), it can do even more damage to an indoor show. Why? The baggage. If it’s freezing or raining or snowing or any other kind of weather that makes you leave home with more than jeans and a t-shirt, you’ll be lugging around some form of protective clothing the entire show. Have you ever tried to dance while holding a North Face Puffy Jacket? It’s not as easy as rappers make it look. Where do I put my umbrella? Can I really wear this winter hat the whole show without getting heat stroke? Is there really not a place here to put my snowshoes? Sure, you could check your baggage at some shows but then you’ll be enjoying an hour-long retrieval process at the end of the show while people outside snag every last cab in the city.
This is going to make me sound old but I swear to God I was like this as a teenager, too. We all love a thumping sound system when checking out band; that bass drum the kicks you in the gut, that guitar solo that cuts through the air like a sonic razor. But there is a certain volume – perhaps the mythical “11” – at which music is no longer enjoyable. Each crack of the snare is like a mini-migraine ripping through your eardrums and each off-key note bounces back and forth in your head like a tuning fork struck with a sledge hammer. If you fancy yourself a true metal head who can handle any volume, i dare you to stand in front of the monitors at a show, leave the show and then tell me if it was worth it. Concerts should be loud, but bleeding ears and two days of screaming everything you say isn’t the kind of loud most of us are looking for. Instead, how about a half hour of ringing ears and just some light spotting of blood?
6. Expensive Drinks
Ticket prices just keep rising as bands make less and less money from CDs and a lot of us will undertake a little travel to see a band we like. So already you’re probably a few bucks in the hole when you’re headed to see a band. The last thing you need is to part with an additional $10 every time you want a lukewarm, flat Bud Light. Nothing about going to show is going to be ideal, granted, but venues should be able to clear enough profit from the door without having to jack up the price of garbage beer, too. Come on, Mr. Owner Man, I NEED this beer. It’s the only way to get me to dance…
5. Seats (or No Seats)
I’ll keep this short and sweet, but doesn’t it always seems like the bands you want to be standing for play in venues with assigned seats and the bands you want to sit down for play standing room only shows?
4. Aggressive Security
Law and order must be maintained at shows for the safety of the crowd and the safety of the band. That’s a given. But I find that venue security guards often get it in their head that society has crumbled and they have been elected leader of a mighty non-governmental military. They push, threaten to evict you and order you to sit down. Much like a high school security guard or a small town cop, they are high on power and with few actual crimes to deal with, forced to exert that power on the innocent. I recall one show – a Billy Joel, Elton John double-header – where one security guard made three separate visits to my seat to “yell” at me for various things: standing up, putting my beer on the floor and standing near, not in, an aisle. Having your groove interrupted every few minutes by an aggressive security guard is bad enough, but it’s even worse when you paid Billy Joel/Elton John prices for the privileged.
3. A Bad PA System
I feel like I don’t even need to write about this one. Besides the general ambiance of a show, the music is what you came to hear and a show can be ruined quick when that music can’t actually be heard. This is mostly a problem with small clubs or bands that cannot yet afford expensive sound systems. Microphones cut out mid-lyric, speakers hiss and pop and feedback is so prevalent it might as well be it’s own song. Plus, a bad PA often requires constant patches during the show so everyone is the crowd is treated to the wonderful sight of a sound tech’s ass crack as he tries to figure out why the guitar is coming out of the bass amp and why the mic is only playing back in the monitors.
2. Annoying (Probably Drunk) Fans
It is your God-given right to get a little tipsy when you go to a show. That is half the fun and what makes concerts special treats as opposed to run-of-the-mill activities. But man, some people just can’t handle it. And when you find yourself seated near these people it takes every ounce of will power in your soul not to scream, yell, punch and kick them as they ruin song after song. Some common practices of these fans are the “scream-along,” where they scream every lyric to every song completely off key and directly into your ear; the “Pinball Dance,” where their dancing style is reminiscent of a pinball bouncing around between bumpers (hint: you’re the bumper); and the “fight you if you say anything,” where they challenge you to a fight if you even politely ask them to puke in the other direction. When you see a fist fight at a Dave Matthews show, it is this fan who is responsible. When you see a mound of puke on your seat, it is this fan who hocked it up. And when you find yourself sitting in county jail it is because this fan grabbed your girlfriend’s ass and you just had to hit him.
And the number one most annoying thing when you go to see a band is…
1. A Bad Opener
One time I had to sit through an hour and a half of Vertical Horizon. It was so bad I don’t even remember who the headliner was. I feel like that should be enough here, but let’s probe a little deeper. Whether it’s a local band who won a radio contest or a name act with only one hit to their name, suffering through a bad opening act is like purgatory; you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just don’t know how long that tunnel is. Openers can play anywhere from twenty minutes to a few hours, so if you catch a bad one just pray the headliner is eager to take the stage. Bad openers implore you to clap to the beat, to sing along to their songs you don’t know and to please, please not use the bathroom during their set. And, the true mark of a bad opener, they will always – always – instruct you to go buy their CD at the merch table.
Monday August 10, 2009 at 08:00 AM
Hey Indaba, happy Monday. Welcome to our weekly shop talking session. Now, I must admit I’ve been using this post selfishly from time to time to get recommendations for various instruments and equipment. This time, however, I promise it will be my last. I recently made a drunken and, perhaps foolish, choice to trade my acoustic guitar – a very crappy Indiana, whatever that company is – for a swivel TV stand. It seemed like the right move at the time and don’t get me wrong, I love my swiveling TV, but now I miss my acoustic guitar. I want to get a new one but I’m also not a fantastic guitar player meaning A) I don’t need a fantastic guitar and B) I don’t deserve a fantastic guitar. So, here is what I’m asking of you today: Could you guys suggest a decent acoustic guitar for somewhere between $200 and $500? I like steel strings and fretboards that you can glide over. So, what say you, Indaba? Can you help a wanna-be musician out just one more time?
Leave your suggestions in the comments.
Sunday August 02, 2009 at 11:59 PM
Hey Indaba. Normally on Monday I post a Monday showdown but this week is special so I am skipping it. Instead I want to tell you about my weekend. Why? Because I was hosting the comedy tent at All Points West, a big 3-day music festival in Jersey City. I say “two cities” in our title because the festival may have technically taken place in Jersey City but the backdrop to the whole thing is the beautiful Manhattan skyline.
I had never truly attended a music festival before. I have been to big concerts but they would only last a day and most were put on by local radio stations. This was different. There were about 50 bands playing with Coldplay, Tool and Jay-Z headlining so this was rather large. On the first day myself and the rest of the comedy crew were ferried over from Manhattan and marched across a field to the comedy tent. And when I say comedy tent what I really mean is comedy airplane hanger. This thing was enormous. I am used to preforming on small stages for 300 people. This was a massive stage with two huge video screens and the “room” could hold a few thousand. Nervously, my co-worker and I prepared.
At 1:30 on Friday the curtain went up and we were on. I had no idea what to expect. I figured there would be one or two people in the crowd who knew me and would laugh out of obligation but I couldn’t pick them out. I mostly just wanted to do my time and bring up the first headliner (a young comedy singer/songwriter, Bo Burnham). To my great surprise the crowd was receptive and laughing, if a little small. We started with 75 people maybe and had close to 100 when we were done. No heckles, no mud thrown at me, none of the things I had been expecting when I signed up for this gig a few months ago. All in all, the first day went well. But as soon as the comedy tent ended at 4:30 and the big bands started to take the stage God decided he had had enough of the muggy, humid weather hanging over the festival and it began to rain. This would become more important as the festival went on.
Day two turned out to be bright and sunny, a perfect day to enjoy some bands outside. However, Fridays rain had turned the festival grounds into a huge mud puddle. Discarded pants and sandals littered the walk to the grounds and god help you if you stepped in tire treads (a girl we were with went in up to her knee). My part of day two went very well and ended with Tim and Eric (of Adult Swim) packing the comedy tent to capacity for one of the weirdest acts I’ve ever seen. Since it was a nice day I decided to check out some more of the festival. I caught a few bands and tried in vain to find this secret “Artist’s Village” where we had heard they had free food and alcohol. For the life of me I could not find it and ended up eating a disgusting philly cheese steak for dinner that sat like a cannon ball in my stomach. I think the festival was handled very well and nothing immediately jumps out as terrible except the food. Perhaps it was just the places I was eating at but good lord, get a few decent venders in there next year.
By Sunday, the last day, things had gotten fairly disgusting and the weather had turned terrible. The gates weren’t opened until many hours after they were supposed to and thousands of people were kept standing in the rain, waiting to get in. When they finally did open the gates we were so behind schedule that we did a real quick comedy show – watching huge comedians do ten minute sets is almost depressing – and then were cut loose. And that’s when we found it. The Artist’s Village. It was real and it lived behind the main stage and, furthermore, it was amazing. Free drinks from Grey Goose (they even named one after me: The Streeter – a vodka tonic with a splash of cranberry), free food from actual chefs (I ate three servings of crab linguine) and air conditioned tents where they had, no joke, live 3-D TVs. It was a trip. All the bands had their trailers back there and Coldplay, Sunday’s headliner, had an entire village to themselves. It was a trip and I’m sure I will never find myself in a place like that again, where anything I want is free and people treat me as if I am better than normal people. Amazing.
Anyway, that was my time at All Points West. I didn’t get to see as many bands as i would have wanted (mostly because I was working for 4 hours each day) but I had a great time. The crowd was actually very receptive to comedy which was a surprise and hopefully we’ll be back next year. And who knows, maybe you’ll come by next year and, if you do, I promise to sneak you into the Artist’s Village where you can have all the crab linguine you want.
Tuesday April 21, 2009 at 08:00 AM
Unless you’re a mega-loser you have an iPhone by now. I kid, of course, but many, many people do so I thought I’d round up a few of my favorite iPhone music apps and share them here.
BeBot – This isanely fun little app features a cartoon robot who will “sing” robot noises depending on where you drag your finger. You can adjust everything so there are endless combinations of sound to discover. It’s even useful for musicians, according to Morgan Z. of Apes and Androids, who introduced me to BeBot as an alternative to fiddling with keyboards and synths for quick robot-y sounds.
Beatmaker – Tap on stuff? Annoy your friends and family? Why don’t you buy Beatmaker, an insanely intense (you guessed it!) beat-making iPhone app. It’s on the pricey side (almost $20 for the app) but if you feel the need for a mobile drum machine, it seems to be unbeatable (pun intended).
Midomi – This one impresses me to the upteenth degree. It’s essentially a shortcut to the iTunes store, but that’s not really
the fun part. The fun part is a feature built into the program. If you ever get a song stuck in your head, open up Midomi, hum the tune and chances are, Midomi will tell you what it is. Or, if you’re listening to a song and want to buy it, hold your iPhone up to the speakers and it will identify it. Amazing.
Chordmaster – For any guitar guys out there, this one is invaluable. It’s very simply a massive database of guitar chords – all of them – and gives you the option to hear the chord, see the chord, hear each note of the chord and strum the chord, all on your phone.
More Cowbell - Stupid? Yes. Fun? Hopefully. the More Cowbell app borrows its name from the famous SNL skit featuring Will Ferrel as an overly excited cowbell player. Now you can pay a dollar and compete with “cowbellers” across the Internet thanks to More Cowbell. This is in here for fun, and that’s exactly what it’s meant to be. If you’re a serious music guy, don’t buy this (there is only one cowbell option, for instance), but if you want a vaguely music-related app that can annoy friends then sir, I think I’ve found what you’re looking for.
Got any suggestions of your own? Leave them in the comments.
Monday April 20, 2009 at 08:00 AM
NOTE: I AM NOT ENDORSING DRUG USE HERE.
OK, glad we got that out of the way. It being 4/20 and 4/20 being the traditional day for college kids to go get stoned on their quads, I thought I’d post something drug-related today. Drugs and modern music have a pretty tight relationship. not only have numerous songs been penned about them (Snoop Dogg has probably recorded at least an album’s worth alone) but they often serve as a conduit for many musicians. Drugs that kill you have had a horrible effect on the music world and a quick stroll through the 60’s can confirm that. In a fairly short time, drugs took away Jim Morrison (probably), Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix among others (collectively, they’re known as the Forever 27 Club). However, 4/20 isn’t a day that traditionally celebrates the kind of drugs that kill people, it celebrates marijuana which, as far as I can tell, hasn’t killed anyone.
So instead of a Monday Showdown this week, I want to ask a straight forward question to the Indaba community: Has marijuana been good or bad for music over the years? On the plus side, The Beatles only got really good after they started smoking it. On the minus side, they also let Ringo record Yellow Submarine. In all seriousness, it’s a question that deserves some debate so weigh in below.
Tuesday April 14, 2009 at 08:00 AM
I was a massive Smashing Pumpkins fan as a kid. Indaba co-founder, Dan, can back up that claim. However, in the last ten years or so the band has splintered and, just recently, was reduced to only singer/songwriter, Billy Corgan. I haven’t actively listened to the Pumpkins in many, many years but I try to keep up with band developments. Anyway, I was doing my daily read-about-music-online ritual when I came across Billy Corgan’s manifesto of sorts for the Pumpkins. I find it fascinating and not just because he fronted one of my favorite bands, but because so rarely are we the fans allowed to see the inner machinations of someone who, let’s face it, is clawing his way back to the top. Watching Corgan’s progress is kind of a case study for being a famous musician and I think if your goal is to be in a big band, you’d be wise to follow his progress. He’s been to the top and the bottom and, maybe, back again. Anyway, here is a little bit of the “manifesto,” and you can read the rest by clicking the link at the bottom.
I’m going to step right into the heat of the matter now and address the
infamous ‘why?’ question. The why being ‘why’ I have chosen to continue
on under the Smashing Pumpkins banner considering I am the only
remaining original member? The simple answer is that when I decided to
write and record again under the name The Smashing Pumpkins in 2005, I
committed myself 100 pct. 100pct of my mind-body-soul to come back and
make the band really be great again, and I feel in tune to SP in a way
I haven’t felt in tune probably since 1995 or 1996. As they say in No
Limit Poker, I’m ‘all in’. I’m not going to back out of the challenge
in front of me now. I’m absolutely exhilarated by what I see and feel
the future to be for SP. There is a difference in how I think and
approach a body of work for the Pumpkins then say I would as a solo
artist or under any other name. Being the near lone songwriter for the
Pumpkins has always made me want to put all the diverse harmonic
fragments in my mind together, and it has been an incredible musical
journey so far to keep trying to match up to the size of that idea. I
truly am not focused on where I’ve been now as much as where I am
going, and I haven’t felt that way for a very long time.
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Friday June 25, 2010 at 05:00 PM
If you want to know about IP law - this is the place. CC is defining the cutting edge of music licensing.
Stop making sense David Byrne. Seriously, you make too much sense to us - it's scary. When are you coming by to hang out?
Fairly relevant to Indaba :)
If you want to know what's happening in the new music world...
Wired + Music + Eliot = amazing
Our favorite NYC music-scene blog from our favorite CMJer.
Super-hip music blog. A must for anyone serious about the NYC scene.
ll the news that fit to print ... about music, that is.
Gawker Media's music blog. Perfect if you like a little snark with your music news.
In his own words - "First in music analysis"