Quickie for today!
Filed under Music
I wonder tho, where are we drawing the line for pop music.
Until we answer that, I’ll speak generally…and this is by no means a pre-meditated response so please be tolerant.
While pop music can appear to be minimalist in regards to most of the musical elements, what do you make of the amount of effects used to create the sounds?
Then you have groups like Steely Dan (read: killer harmonic movement). Not in the same discussion? Probably not and that is sad.
Another question: If a non-musician writes a “minimalist” piece based on an ostinato learned in music class, but it is “discovered” by the music teacher and presented to music lovers at large; do you perhaps see the same correlation between pop producers and writers: being that they don’t know more possibilities so they don’t write with more possibilities.
But then you listen to pop music and there tend to be a lot of layers of timbres and repetitive but thick grooves.
This also involves your question from a while ago about the pretentiousness of music and I think any composer/artist/creator/critic can make claims that may or may not be valid just based on the “art can be anything” philosophy.
What do you think? Have you recently heard some pop music that has you hooked?
First Tony, thanks for checking it out and sharing! Good to see you here on the ol’ interwebs.
You raise some great points, that honestly (and it being 1am) I may only have a slight opinion and not as much definitive attitude towards these issues. And I also may not be addressing your point right on by accident! Apologies ahead of time.
About composing minimalism, my belief (very wisely warned to me by Dr. Linton) is that great minimalism uses ostinatos not as a crutch but a tool. Also, I would never hope a young inexperienced student with a catchy ostinato would be just like the urban kid with a Casio piano composing hip-hop. A necessary stage of development, but hardly great expressive art.
Also, as in Reich’s “Four Organs” he uses a repeated harmonic movement instead of melodic or rhythmic ostinatos. So although usually ostinato based, his minimalistic elements come from harmony. Again, I may not be addressing 100% what you want. Let me know!
Your question about possibilities is great. Without a doubt, even when creating something new, the old has to be present. So that means that although you CAN create something totally fresh and new with imagination of possibilities, there has to be a point that is referenced for that creation. For example, atonal writers of the early 20th century were not 100% sure where it was going (of course 12-tone serialism came to be as a result) and they created something totally new, throwing out the playbook. Yet, they had to have a playbook to throw out. So I guess I’m saying great art has to be studied from the past in order to perceive the future. No matter what genre of music.
About “art can be anything,” I have met very few studied individuals (again independently of genre) who say art has to be something specific. Yet although a piece of art can be microscopic or an entire city or symphony, we can finitely say there is “good” art and well, “not so good” art as educated individuals. Guernica and the song about drinking beer cannot be compared in their artistic creation. YET! they can be equally valuable to different kinds of people.
And on getting hooked, I’m struggling with modern popular music a lot, but I have some friends who are into some great stuff that I’m just getting exposed to. My chiropractor plays country top 40. They said they picked it because it was the only station that “didn’t really offend anyone.” I guess they didn’t ask me!
Thanks again for coming around and commenting!
I was trying to decipher my thoughts on this question and couldn’t formulate much of anything until now. Being a non-musician and anything but an expert, my fear of “being wrong” got the best of me before.
While considering the pop genre in relation to the minimalist style of music, I found myself unable to clearly place them together for many of the reasons that Tony mentioned above. Instead of looking at pop music as a form of minimalism, I think it better fits into a category of simple order or human pulse. As humans, I think we are all at some point attracted to simple order and familiarity…ideas that can be easily understood. Most of what we call pop music fulfills this underlying desire. Now, of course, everyone has their personal preferences…mostly, I believe, depending on their specific educations/backgrounds/environments. But regardless of these, a tapping toe, the urge to dance or move, or emotional nostalgia aren’t really a matter of minimalism but actually a element of humanity. (That sounds way more lofty than it was supposed to.)
Hilary, well said! Heck of a writer!
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