Tuesday, June 9, 2009

come to me, in those open arms is where i want to be

i thought i should follow up that last post with a more positive one so here we go...

i'm not normally a reality tv fan which is a shame because the company i work for has made oceans of money off of selling them around the world, however i saw one today that was truly inspiring. the show is called maestro and aired on the bbc some time ago. it's a pretty standard format. several stars compete to see who will win the coveted prize of maestro and lead the bbc symphonic orchestra for a piece during the last night at the proms.

i won't bore you with all the details of who was on the show except alex james and goldie are in the running which i find particularly interesting. alex james of blur fame and goldie of...well, goldie fame tackle the classics in a battle of the batons. it's amazing to watch two professional musicians that can't read music learn to conduct an orchestra in two very different ways.

alex plays a host of instruments and left his wild partying days of blur behind to become a cheese farmer. he approaches the orchestra from the perspective of a man trying to learn more about the over all experience of what it is that makes a piece of music truly epic. he hopes to learn more about musical theory in the process.

goldie started djing in the late 80s if i'm not mistaken and began making drum n' bass records in the early 90s. his musical background is much more like a conductor in that he's piecing together bits of sound to make a final composition which is much more like a classical score.

so this brings me to the part that i found truly interesting. what makes a musician truly great? do you even have to play an instrument to be a musician?

i've spent my entire life in and around bands of all kinds and it never ceases to amaze me when i meet people that everything just clicks for. i haven't met many, truth be told but the people that just pick up an instrument and play when they've never even seen how the thing operates is just awe inspiring. i wish i was one of those people and while i can sure noodle my way through a song on an instrument that i've never played before, i'm not writing anything with them.

what i would love to see is more people try something new on a regular basis. it doesn't have to be a huge thing. it can be as simple as walking a different way to work or as crazy as sky diving but trying something new each day leaves the brain open to new ideas and new experiences and i really think that's something that music is missing these days. it's not just musicians that seem to be lacking imagination but the general public as well. have we just become so used to listening to mechanical (as in robotic) music that we're happy when we hear five songs on the radio that all sound the same? have we just lost our ability to play with art and use our imagination? it certainly seems like the only "new" things happening these days are just people taking three or four different styles of music and trying to turn them into some odd hybrid. i remember hearing a young lass explain her music as, "punk, folk, electro, opera, funk" then i heard her music and it just sounded like an average alternative rock album. that didn't make it bad, it just seemed odd that she felt the need to hype it up by making it sound like something new and different.

perhaps what we should be doing is worrying less about labels and the super specific ideas that come with them and worry more about just making things that sound good and get people singing along or dancing or smoking weed or having sex or whatever it is that people feel the need to do when a song they love is playing. leave labels for reporters and people who never understood what any of it was ever about in the first place.

i seem to have gone off track with this one but that's what happens when you're typing late at night without caffeine or sugar...which reminds me i have ice cream so i'll try to make this brief. i want to meet more musicians. good, bad, crazy, flaky, whatever and see how they process things. i know for a fact that i'm not the only musician to start about fifty songs and not finish any of them. i know i'm not the only one that writes things that other people will never hear but unlike a lot of those musicians, i have played in front of people and i like getting feed back from people about the work that i've done. in short, (in as long and rambling way as possible) i want to be a better musician and i'm not entirely sure how i go about that at this point. i can play. i've taken lessons and i play with other people on a shifting somewhat regularish schedule so where does a guy go from there pray tell?

no more pencils no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks

asher roth. i swore to myself that i wouldn't get sucked into promoting someone i can't stand by writing something negative about him but i guess i would rather have people make up their own mind by hearing a dissenting opinion in response to all the ball washing good press he's had.

so, asher roth. the young ne'er do well making the rounds at penthouse apartments near you has been called "the next big thing" "the new eminem" and other non-sensical crap that makes him sound like the third coming of christ. i'm just going to come right out and say it, i don't get it. i did have a good laugh when i read http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1607673/20090324/asher_roth.jhtml and young james suggested that most people in the hip hop community like asher but they can't come out and say it. that's why they hang their heads and get quiet. it couldn't be because they think he's a no talent hack but don't want to say it just in case they can make some money off of him. heavens no.

it's not that i'm old. it's not that i don't like hip hop. it's not even that i have something against partying. what i have a problem with is sloppy musicianship mixed with sloppier performance that validates the idea that you don't have to know ANYTHING about music in order to make hip hop.

so i'm hoping someone will read this and let me know what it is that's appealing about roth. i will not accept anything along the lines of "he's got sick beatz" as an explanation because clearly, i don't find that to be the case. he's gone on record as saying that he had a band play on the album because they didn't have much money which means nothing because having a friend play a four bar progression, recording it and then looping it in pro tools is the same as ripping it off a cd. you're still making music with loops. it's nothing to be ashamed of, it's just lazy when you don't do anything to change the song structure and the same four bars just plod along. that's not unique to asher though so don't think that i'm mad at him just because he can't write a song. most hip hop acts can't. look at timbaland. he liked the one republic song he did so much that he sold it to chris cornel.

so let's hear it internet. why do you like asher roth?