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March 10th, 2002

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04:25 am - indie rock pete
i encountered some fascinating music today. first at the piano recital, there was a series of songs he played, by john cage [1] called the perilous night. these songs were played on a "prepared piano" meaning it had been fucked with, basically. you go in and stick nails and rubberbands and pieces of felt and various other crazy things on the piano strings so that when you're playing, it randomly clunks or pings or thuds. there were very specific instructions on how to prepare the piano. and the music itself - the timing was insane, random stops and speed changes and so forth. so it was very cool, but the majority of it was just random noises. as jess said, it sounded like someone trying to do stomp in their kitchen, and hitting random things with a fork.
then the show later -- the opening band was named "client|server" (actually client was over server and the line was horizontal, but yeah) and for 45 minutes the girl made random crazy feedback and static and beeps and weird noises which slowly and steadily throbbed, while the guy played the same chord over and over in varying rhythmic patterns and varying effects. a very interesting concept, but not something you really want to sit thru for 45 minutes. there were couches thruout the room, as it wasnt dancing music, and i fell asleep a few times during their set, only to be woken up every so often by the random samples of people mumbling unintelligably. every so often they would stop making noise for a few seconds and people would applaud. then they would do what sounded to me like the exact same thing for another 15 minutes or so. i knew the set was over when, as soon as the noise stopped, the guy said very quietly into the mic (1st time eitehr of them had said anything) "thank you. surface of eceon, whoo." and walked offstage.
anyway, then the main band came on.. surface of eceon [the posters defined them as "intense as all get out" and "space rock" and somethign else i forget now. apparently i get 10 indie cred points for attending the show, i wonder how those are redeemed]. they were an actual band as i understand such things. sortof.. there were guitars and bass and drums and keyboard and such... sometimes theyd play music. then it would drift off into sounding a lot like the first band for awhile.. then theyd play more music. i honestly don't know if i liked them or not. the "singer" (he yelled into the mic a few times, and again that was the only time any vocals were used) flailed around a lot while he guitared, and at one point knocked over the mic stand. rather than pick it up, he lay down on the floor so he could continue using it. he spent the rest of the set either lying down or sitting. the best i can think to describe them (this won't be helpful to a lot of you) is drexel covering early pink floyd really badly. their amps were turned up really loud so the sound came out all bzzzy and distorted. if they were a normal band, i'd think they just had their stuff turned up too high, but i was sitting there listening and wondering if they had it set that way intentionally.
anyway, my question is - what defines something as music? or art in general. the 1st band, i could have made largely the same sound by hooking a keyboard up to a really loud amp and then beating it to death with a bat, but i certainly wouldn't call that music. but i'm sure somewhere, there is someone who does that and does consider it music, and how can i argue with him? that thing with the piano - there is absolutely no way to tell whether he spent countless hours searching for just the right object in just the right position to make the sound he wanted, then sat down and painstakingly wrote the song he was hearing in his head, or he stuck random crap in a piano and poked at the keys haphazardly. and would one method be any more valid than the other? why?
or for another example - jackson pollock, the splatterpaint guy. it would be the simplest thing in the world for me to get a can of paint and drip globs of it all over a canvas and call the fnished product art. would it be art? i don't think so, it would be blobs on a canvas. and essentially, that's a lot of pollock's paintings. but i can look at the stuff he's done and be moved. i find emotion in his paintings, but i don't knwo where it comes from. if it was just reading yourself into something blank, any tie-dye spinart crap would be a masterpiece, but it doesn't work that way. i didn't get anything more than amusement from perilous night, but i don't doubt that some people hear that and are moved to tears. there are probably people who consider client|server their favorite band. i'm hardpressed to even define them as music.

please leave your thoughts.

it should be noted that despite pete's presence at the show, the subjectline is not referring to him, rather to the deiselsweeties character
tho i will also note that the reallife pete loved surface of eceon. i didn't think to ask him what he liked about them, but he did qualify that they're "not something i'd want to crank up while i was driving". and also, he found client|server boring

[1] "johnny cage -- fight!" ha, i'm a dork
state: thinking
np: Sellouts - Urban Death Vehicle

(8 shots upside the head | en garde!)


[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2002 08:05 am (UTC)
my opinion (since you were asking) is that it's only music if you can share it with someone else. what i mean is, is it reproducable in another time and space? if you went to see perilous night preformed again next week, next month, whatever, would it sound the same as it did last night or would it come out totally different because of different random notes, sounds, piano modifications, etc.... if the latter is the case i think i would call it "performance art" rather than music. music has to be able to transmit some sort of message.. melody, lyric, and rhythm are the attributes that separate MUSIC from NOISE. (just my humble opinion, of course)
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2002 07:03 pm (UTC)
Along with the idea that music should communicate something. If they're doing random noises and stuff plus it gets to the point that people are falling asleep and generally not paying attention or worse - hating the gd noise - then **what's the point???**

I've been to too many concerts and read too much stuff (i.e. Gertrude Stein) that makes me want to point out how similar their "artistry" is to the King's invisible clothes. That isn't Art, it's ego masturbation and I'd rather not be involved.

This said,

apparently i get 10 indie cred points for attending the show

Do you get bonus points for snoozing? ;)
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2002 09:24 pm (UTC)
i fell asleep, some people were really enjoying it. i certainly don't know HOW, but they were into it

i'm not sure if i get points added or subtracted for that. maybe i get extra cred points for being so coolly apathetic? but then, wouldn't i get even more points if i hadn't gone at all..
[User Picture]
Date:March 11th, 2002 05:46 am (UTC)
wouldn't i get even more points if i hadn't gone at all..

That would depend on *audience:*

- If you just stayed alone in your room, no points.
- If you went places and people saw you but didn't know you were stiffing a concert, half points.
- *MegaBonus Points* If you went places and proudly announced that you were supposed to be at the concert but decided to participate by not participating.

*plus!* all the people in the bar/coffee shop/dorm room or whatever with you would now be part of the overall performance because they were the audience to your not being an audience!!!

The mind boggles.
[User Picture]
Date:March 11th, 2002 10:12 pm (UTC)
this sounds complex, yo! i think i'll stick with napping
[User Picture]
Date:March 10th, 2002 09:21 pm (UTC)
yeah, perilous night would sound the same any time it was properly performed.
but if that's the criteria for music, what about the grateful dead? or phish? or any other jam band, where improvisation is the most important thing and it's never the same twice
what do you mean by transmit a message?
Date:March 10th, 2002 11:26 am (UTC)


mu·sic Pronunciation Key (myzk)
The art of arranging sounds in time so as to produce a continuous, unified, and evocative composition, as through melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre.
Vocal or instrumental sounds possessing a degree of melody, harmony, or rhythm.

-A musical composition.
-The written or printed score for such a composition.
-Such scores considered as a group: We keep our music in a stack near the piano.
-A musical accompaniment.
-A particular category or kind of music.
-An aesthetically pleasing or harmonious sound or combination of sounds: the music of the wind in the pines.

there you have it, the dictionary definition. i've also heard music simply described as "any organized sound." so i guess there is a lot of stuff that can be defined as music, the humming of the motor of a car, the pounding of the construction workers by the new residence hall. i guess it can be defined as music. the question is whether or not you think it sucks or not. I think that space rock stuff sounds like it SUCKS.
Date:March 12th, 2002 09:01 am (UTC)
how to prepare the piano. and the music itself - the timing was insane, random stops and speed changes and so forth. so it was very cool, but the majority of it was just random noises.

You said it there yourself, so ask your self: 'Was the piece composed (http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=compose)?'. And if the answer is 'yes', don't you think the composer may have reached his goal when his audience thinks that the notes sounded like random noise (http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=Sketch%20of%20a%20New%20Aesthetic%20of%20Music&lastnode_id=389749)? Isn't that the true definition of 'art'?

Now, the other question is if this kind of music is 'good' or 'bad': luckily 'good' or 'bad' music is rather a highly subjective and a personal choice. Personally, I think John Cage makes a mess of the music as initially developed by Busoni (http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=Ferruccio%20Busoni&lastnode_id=1031384) and/or Schoenberg (http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=32569). But then: You've never heard me saying 'mess'. OK?

[...ach ja! an interesting discussion...]
Warning, links provided are pointing to Everything or Merriam Webster

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