Recent Articles

ON HALLOWEEN MUSIC: Wendy, Carrie and Igor

There’s nothing like getting a raucous scare from music. Unless it’s doubled with a good scare in a movie. For me it really hasn’t gotten much creepier than The Shining‘s opening scene. And it all starts with the incredibly sinister music of the brilliant Wendy Carlos. An otherwise lovely scenic drive through the mountains is made ominous with Wendy’s creeeeepy score, instantly foretelling the nightmare that will descend in the next few hours. This post is about scary music in drama, all of which can be heard on the jarring classical mixtape Haunt Your House, created by Russell Johnson and me here at Pandora …
Wendy carlos.jpgFrom Weird to Creepy: Switched From Bach
Analog synth sounds are famous for being weird, so it’s barely a skip over to ‘creepy’ for them. Wendy Carlos had already created a smorgasbord of curious Moog synth sounds on her landmark, genre-bending album Switched-on Bach. Apparently back in ’68, classical had to be Mooged in order to really sell: An all-Moog Bach album, it was the first classical LP to go platinum. Bach’s style is often dominated by counterpoint: the compositional technique of having 2 or more melodic lines going at once. If instruments were voices, a Bach fugue would sound like 2-5 people blabbering away at the same time. So hearing a gaggle of funky Moog sounds executing a contrapuntal Bach piece makes for some very entertaining, often silly musical conversations. She also Mooged Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange.
From there it was just a hop over to full-blown creepland:

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To Praise Music is to Express a Value System, or How Tin Pan Alley Gave Birth to (Those Who Gave Birth to) Punk Rock :: Play Listen Repeat :: Vol. 44

sid_v_my_way.jpgThe Best Music EVER
In the comments to my previous post, a commenter wrote (in a long and very well-reasoned comment) that the craft of popular music from Tin Pan Alley and the American songbook “remains unquestionably the model to which all future song writing must be compared.”
Believe it or not, this made me think about punk rock. Here’s how.
Let’s Not Talk About Forever
The idea that any kind of song writing will ever be “unquestionably the model to which all future song writing must be compared” is hyperbolic. Forever is a long time, and to say that people in 200 years, or 2,000 years, or 12,000 years will look ONLY to Tin Pan Alley for the ultimate in song writing standards is at best impossible to confirm.
At worst, it projects our beliefs onto the people of the future, presuming that they will not only understand everything better than we do, but that they will select what we value and confirm its ultimate superiority. In other words, it’s a fantasy.
Rowdy Grandkids

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Mashup Culture – Dubstep :: On the One :: Vol. 3

9821-albumash.jpgElectronic/dance music is largely based on musical conventions. Whether it is the use of the amen break, as a sample and dominant rhythmic pattern in drum & bass, the repetitive pounding of a kick drum sound in house & techno, or the low, rumbling, electro-bass of breakbeat – there are certain things a listener can expect from a particular sub-genre within EDM (electronic dance music). These conventions, or standard musical elements are fairly easy to extract and then combine (or mash-up) with a dominant element from another sub-genre, creating a new musical form.
In simple terms this is the foundation of the mash-up, a technique that has been at work in popular music ever since DJs starting blending & manipulating records in the 1970’s. It has certainly become a popular sub genre of it’s own.
While it is endlessly entertaining to explore ways to combine rock, rap, 80’s synth pop, swing, jazz, r&b, dancehall, bhangra…I would like to dig a little deeper into how the mash-up of musical conventions within electronic/dance is creating some compelling new sub-genres. Let’s start with dubstep.

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