songofcopper: (Purrodigy)
Last evening I was reading a fascinating article about the ANS - an unusual synthesiser developed in Russia in the 1930s. It was designed in 1938 by a certain Evgeny Murzin and was named after the composer and occultist Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin. The unusual thing with the ANS is that it is not operated in the conventional way of synthesisers - or of musical instruments in general - i.e., you do not instruct its pitch and tone by pressing or touching it. To quote the article linked above,

‘Instead you etch images onto glass sheets covered in black putty and feed them into a machine that shines light through the etchings, triggering a wide range of tones. Etchings made low on the sheets make low tones. High etchings make high tones. The sound is generated in real-time and the tempo depends on how fast you insert the sheets.’

Splitting the atom of the self )

*

Another friend started me on another, somewhat-relevant train of thought by discussing the propensity for psychological states to affect physical ones. This meandered towards an idea that it would be fun to have physical states affect musical forces (e.g. your blood pressure hooked up to guitar effects). Immediately my mind was full of hilarious possibilities.

Unwitting automata )

*

Human will has scant reach, I feel. The last thing I want is Power - or at least, I’m tolerably certain that I don’t have any. Rather, I’m an instrument awaiting a Composer.
songofcopper: (neg)
Well, this is a new experience for me. I have never really had proper toothache before. I am determined, in the true spirit of sensual science, to enjoy (?!) it to the fullest.

Adventures in Stoicism and Dentistry )
songofcopper: (CAKEZ!!!)
Thinktide.

"Music (of quality) provides nutriment - spiritual calories. We all need these and are actively, though often unconsciously, seeking them out."

That thought from the other day has not left me alone since. Food, I think, is the only useful metaphor (that I've yet encountered) for the Substance of Music.

(Yes... the Substance of Music. It can be present or not-present, it can be perceived, it can be made and it can be contained. It can only be destroyed in the way that anything can be 'destroyed' - by being broken down and remade into something else.)

I've always felt that the only helpful way to describe music is to invoke food-language. You can't get far by explaining that the Joe Bloggs Band sounds a bit like the Fred Jones Group crossed with the Mary Smith Quintet - this is of limited help to anyone who hasn't heard Fred Jones or Mary Smith... or indeed to anyone who dislikes Fred Jones or Mary Smith.

But if you say that the Joe Bloggs Band combines richness with astringency, or spiciness with a lick of salt, that gives an immediate, visceral notion of what it might be like. Most people eat food, let's face it.

So there's that.

But it struck me suddenly, powerfully, yesterday, that how we make, share and consume music - how we prepare it, how we give and receive it - is exactly like our behaviour around food. Going way beyond the dotty linguistic tropes favoured by yer hapless scribe (*waves!*), our music, culturally, exhibits the same tendencies as a cuisine.

It was the word 'hobby' that got me to this thought. I had read two people's remarks on 'music as a hobby', and somehow that word rankled - it felt incorrect from my perspective. When I'm making music, it's not something I do to pass the time or to give me something to talk about at parties. (I'm not suggesting that this is really the aim of many people who make music, by the way - just that the word 'hobby' is not quite apt.) There is also this idea of separation between 'work' and 'hobby', and a thought that for each participant, music is one or the other. We have, alongside that, this notion of 'turning one's hobby into a career' - which tends to be characterised either as The Ultimate Ideal or Utter Blinkin' Sacrilege.

When I put this dissatisfaction with the word 'hobby' next to thoughts on music-as-food, suddenly it became obvious.

What I am doing is not an optional entertainment activity - it's as necessary and automatic as cooking a meal.

Breaking Bread )
songofcopper: (pendigestatory interludicule ^_^)
Thinktide.

Perhaps when we respond to a music it is filling up a space within us/going to meet an appetite/our appetite is going to meet It. Music (of quality) provides nutriment - spiritual calories. We all need these and are actively, though often unconsciously, seeking them out.

Grammatical Gravy )

Good old Universe. It's a bit like Staples: 'You want it, we got it!'

Permit me, gentle reader, to elaborate. (And, cheekily, to address you as 'gentle reader'.)

Thursday night, I Ooood the Tooob in search of the luminous Mr Fripp. A small urge to cup an ear around his well-received album 'Exposure' led me hither and yon.

Circular Encounters )
songofcopper: (le dauphin de kobaia)
"What is your ambition?" people like to ask. "What do you want to do? What do you want to be?"

Witless questions all - unless you come pre-packaged with the desire to inhabit the societal and economic rabbit-hutch that has been set aside for you. Few do, and fewer still actually find their respective rabbitry ready and waiting for them, clean and inviting and lined with hay. No: it doesn't really work like that.

Also, 'ambition'... I have a real problem with that concept - Aspiration. I tend not, as a general rule, to Aspire. I Respire, and that is sufficient. ;-) Ambition is gnawing, which is best left to rodents*. [*Silvanic in-joke, which nobody but me will appreciate...]

Anyway... drifting orf ye pointe, innit? To resume: those silly, silly questions, which anticipate answers suitable for inclusion in University application forms and job interviews. I (in this current context) refuse to answer in the directed manner. Nevertheless, I do know what I want to do, and what I want to be.

I want to Elucidate, and I want to be an Elucidator.

That is, one who shines a word-torch on Meaning.

It's not about forcing understanding, or reducing the sense of something into bite-sized, palatable chunks. Very often, Elucidation is achieved opaquely. The aim is to enable and stimulate whoever reads or hears your words to decode their own sense of the thing. To tickle up a teasing itch of Think.

Wildly bold to state such an aim, of course, but if I have one particular challenge en train at the moment, it is... Death to Self-Effacement!! False Modesty be Damned! Saying Things is one of the few things I can do well, so I may as well do it. Besides, annoyance and affront (which you may feel on clocking my presumption) are excellent thinkstimuli. ;-)

*

"Once upon a time there was a cat called Fripp and a dog called Eno." There ought to be a cat called Fripp and a dog called Eno - it seems correct, in an unbudgeable way. Whatever, with Elucidation in mind, these two characters - Robert Fripp and Brian Eno - are Elucidatin' away like champions. Mr Eno, obligingly, has made a deck of cards. "Fetch!" you may command him - "Go on, boy, fetch me an Oblique Strategy!" Turn up another card and there it is. Bingo! Of course, now it's up to you to decide what to do with it. And he's not going to tell you - nope, he's wandered off to bury a squeaky toy (always innovating sonically) or to rhythmically consume water from his bowl (lap, slop, splish, drip - a compelling ambient soundscape!). But he offers no obstruction, and every entry wins a prize.

But the four-footed Fripp is really very inscrutable. Now purring, now biting, now cuddly, now sulky, there is no telling what he's going to hand you. Very often he will not even look you in the eye. His utterances are concurrently obvious and cryptic. He has an oddly precise memory for dates that is curiously joyous. His approaches come from unexpected directions: he is left-handed - woo, SOLIDARITY - but has ordered his world around playing the guitar the right-handed way. (Further, the man claims to have been, prior to embarking upon his musical trek, tone-deaf. At which my brain goes, Huh?!?! This is less like Mohammed scuttling dutifully mountainwards - more as if he'd dug up the entire mountain with teaspoons and rebuilt it in another place! Seriously, I believe 100% that very few humans are truly tone-deaf, and that most who feel they are might be coaxed, with practice and encouragement, to sing a decent 'Happy Birthday', but... to go from 'tone-deaf' to World-Mending Musician is... Something.) He gives off a most unusual energy. A wild and strange gathering of the utterly ordinary and of towering otherness. I dunno, I... like him. Watching and listening to various snippets of Youtubeage in the last few days, hearing him Say Things, I came away quite elated - delighted - hypnotic mischief afoot. This, I declared, is most presently and persistently An Elucidator!

This man is also a contrarian. As protective of his privacy as a sea-urchin... yet he posts in his online diary about chiropody appointments and what he had for lunch. :-) (I love this. Especially the photos of cakes! He likes cakes.) Then again you might get, alongside the cream tea, an impossible premise or philosophical conundrum. Or a rant of apoplectic expostulation... followed by a moment of stark and honest humility. I approve utterly, too, the pursuit of 'gentling'. :-)

Geographically all is auspicious. I grew up rather near to Wimborne (the Frippsource), and the elegant Worcestershire town where he is now installed with Ms. Toyah has great romantic significance for me, for it was there that my wedding-dress was made. (I used to go for my fittings - becoming more and more ensilked each time - and leave David to potter - to gentle, perhaps! - before reuniting with him, usually to repair to a tea room.)

*

When feeling capricious one day, I Asked Facebook what one ought to do in re King Crimson. (Well... it's there, innit; I've always left it for others, but it is good to break the habit of abstinence once in a while, and who knows, I might like it...) A very kind friend sent me a lot of CDs (all nice legal ones, I hasten to add - in his profession one gets given these things, and ends up with multiple copies, which it was most generous of him to pass on to me, rather than having an ebay moment!). This is strictly opposite to my preferred MO when sampling a new music. I like to pick one album and do that, and if it excites me enough I'll get another, and if it really excites me I shall glutton. But I don't like to glutton from nuttin', as it were. Plus, I am still VdGGing and owe my foremost attentions to them. So I've given the KC roundels the odd spin, but not yet in a very conscious way (this is to come), nor in the passive-listening* way that is best when approaching something 'difficult' - although, if it has recognisable melodies, and it begins and ends, it's not 'difficult' by my reckoning... but it's not 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm', 'Moon/June/Spoon' type stuff, so it'll need its due share of Thinktide - and will receive it. [*The passive-listening thing works really well, though, on anything your brain isn't quite ready for yet. Just put it on whilst you do something really boring and mentally untaxing - cleaning, or filing. Don't 'listen', until your attention Goes There of its own accord. That's when you know you're Getting It.]

But, no, yes, what I was leading up to saying was, more than ever I recognise in my style of music-appreciation the need (more often than not) to hang the music on a personality. And the need for that personality to have the correct ingredients in order to inspire useful thought/be in harmony with current aims or sense-of-self. A very self-regarding way of looking at things. But I realise also that it has to be like that. I've 'been musical' all my life, and my first experiences of making music (making my own music) pre-date my first interactive contact with other people's music. All of us compare everything to ourselves, always, but I do that more than most others, because my world has always been a consciously self-made world. I become elated and excited in the presence of hints of fellow-feeling, even when they come from a mind that is utterly alien - any hint of communion or empathy is precious, but it is especially so when you have not been inspired to begin (you just began, inevitably). You don't need to be inspired by others in order to continue (you will continue, inevitably) but... it's good to realise that you can be inspired by others - the world you have made may connect with other worlds. Usually there is exquisite timing at play (the Ultimate Music) - many, many times I've encountered something at not quite the right moment, filed it away in the back of my mind, and had a Large Revelation later on. Sometimes it takes years, but the moment always comes.

By which circuitous ramblement I intend to say: the experience of listening to a new music is always less piquant and meaningful (for me) if it's purely about the sound of the music. If there isn't a personality to enjoy. There are lots of things I can hear and think, "This is really good" - but it does not move me because I am not somehow clued in to the person who made the music. It doesn't have to be that I like the person; just that they interest me. My reasons for being interested can be pretty daft or whimsical, but the interest must be there.

And Now, the interest being found to be there (purring - biting), I shall happily anticipate a cream tea date with KC destiny when the moment comes.
songofcopper: (neg)
Question: Must we automatically despise people for the wrongs they do? (You must, as always, supply your own value for 'wrongs'.)

On a related note, in referring to my own acts, I can no longer think of 'right' and 'wrong': only 'correct' and 'incorrect'. I find this makes useful contemplation much easier.

Further: people do like to say that if you're not supposed to do something, this makes it more attractive. But that is only true when there is some sort of circumscription - some proscription - for you to kick across. For example: no non-religious person is truly capable of blasphemy - and blasphemy, for a non-religious person, holds zero allure. Myself, I will not wear or use any religious symbol. I just will not. First, because they are not meaningful to me. Second, because offending against orthodoxy would itself be meaningless for me - it would be a completely pointless expression of... what? Poor manners? Thirdly, there can be no thrill in it. Nothing I could do with a crucifix could be anything other than... lame, and insincere.

I saw a young man in town today with 'Day of the Dead' iconography tattooed up his arms. Unwise of me perhaps to adjudge him un-Mexican in the extreme, based only on his appearance, but he did look terribly English, and those sugar skulls are excessively fashionable these days. I had to wonder whether he'd chosen the device for spiritual (anthropological?) reasons, or just because it looked nice. We have a phrase for that nowadays - 'cultural appropriation'. Fair enough. Personally I don't want to cluelessly ape the symbols of a culture I have not experienced. But then again, what cultural devices have I, that could be appropriated by others? It's disturbing to realise that you have nothing of the kind - no sacrilege is possible, no defilement.

No line there for another to cross, and no currency in crossing another's. Where, then, does desire originate? And how can I feel in the presence of another's trespass?

How very curious it is: with very few exceptions, the figures who interest me the most tend to be trespassers*. This, despite my own complete and utter harmlessness. I can even be somewhat clairvoyant here: being drawn to persons who appear fairly socially acceptable - admirable, even - at first scrutiny, but whose inner life is later revealed to plumb depths that would enrage, disgust or shock most nice folks. It should be pretty clear to you that I am not most nice folks. Well, I'm nice. But... I can condemn an act, but find it very hard indeed to condemn a whole human being.

Context-free, is what I often am. I have no home-context in which to situate my reckonings - no ground zero. In all things I'm a pair of scales that insists on balancing. The Devil's Advocate - or just on the fence? Except... there is no fence!

Often we 'go with the majority' rather than following Instinct. Context-free: at this point in the Lifelong Trek I don't find it helpful or comfortable to judge my actions based on how many people agree with me or would do the same as me - or how many would condemn me. Correct and incorrect are not to be arbitrated by others. Context-free.

Moral questions - ack. I must abstain from parsing them, being unequipped to do so. My only correct response to anything is to strive to be sincere and to be self-defined. I forget this occasionally, and want others' approval, forgetting that perhaps the onus is just as much on them to earn mine.

*

Today in the bookshop we were presented with a slim volume of verse (listen to me, 'a slim volume of verse'... stock phrases au-go-go!!) - translated from the Japanese, into German. I once passed a GCSE in German (I got a 'B') which enables me to pronounce it beautifully, whilst understanding something in the order of every ninth word. I stood there, making the correct mouth-noises, whilst my two friends - the one my Anglo-Saxonist colleague, the other our pop-culture-expert regular - tilted at translation, indulging in flights of lateral guesswork. If I do say so myself, it sounded very well, my recitation; but other than divining the poet's interest in cranes and cherry-blossom (to which the pen-and-ink illustrations conspired to clue us in), the meaning remained elusive. I rather prefer it that way, for once in my life.

*

Coda: I voted today, in the local elections; and the only honest (...honest!) choice was... the Green Party. I can't imagine they'll get in, despite my (...ha!) illustrious patronage. Once again I prove HARMLESS, and leave no mark behind me.

*

[*Post-scriptum: Case in point: I posted this on Facebook earlier:

"Did ya ever get the paranoid feeling that Salvador Dalí was following you...? I've been reading his novel, 'Hidden Faces' (no, no, his navel! His Magnificent Octopus! ...Baldrick must've been a surrealist!) and his 'Secret Life of Salvador Dalí'. The navel-octopus is pretty good; the 'Secret Life' (an autobiog - an autofiction?) is where it's at, though - it's just as you'd imagine it would be, only more coherent/clever/readable. Anyway, I turned up to the bookshop today to be confronted with the sight of Himself staring out from the cover of some exhibition catalogue, whilst beside it sat a general book on surrealism. Then some donations came in - a book about Ms. Gala's progress through the ranks (Eluard, Ernst, Dalí), and a huge book of colour reproductions of Dalí paintings. I suggest: The man loved notice so much he can still feel us looking at him! Even posthumously, he queues up to be admired, drawn to where the eyes are! May madness: mind your shadow, and don't leave your watch on the windowsill in the sun. :-)"

As Max Bialystock said, 'They find me... how do they find me?!' Well... sometimes, Clive, I find them.]
songofcopper: (peter hammill)
[Notice To Patrons: there is a lot of ‘I’ in this entry.  Look Away Now if self-referential rambling is not yer glass o’tea...]

So apparently, last night saw a gathering of the luminaries of the Progressive Rock world, and prizes were handed out to the sparkliest amongst them.  Yes, lads ’n’ lasses ’n’ leftovers – it was none other than the Progressive Music Awards.  This scintillant conventicle of caped crusaders convened under the auspices of Prog Magazine – a glossy, overpriced periodical that I, for one, have failed to buy in several railway stations.

Prizewinners (really, it’s too like Speech Day at a minor public school) included Rick Wakeman, who was hailed as ‘Prog God’ (which presumably equates to Victor Ludorum) and Peter Hammill, who took laurels in the ‘Visionary’ category (…I dunno, is that like Scripture Knowledge?!).

The above intelligence gives me furiously to think.  For it seems that Progressive Rock music, after decades of being considered unspeakable, inscrutable, an under-the-counter brown-paper-bag habit of the stubborn few (‘On entend le prog, on ne cite pas’ to misquote a Frenchman), has suddenly been deemed… ok.  Venerable, perhaps.  And even somewhat hip.

This astounds me, and slightly worries me as well.  I’m astounded because generally, anything that seeks self-consciously to be intellectual, earnest, extravagant and emotional is given short shrift by approximately 80% of British citizens.  (Sincerity and cleverness make them uncomfortable, don’t you know.)  The worry comes because… if these scary and outré creatures, these wide-eyed pioneers, daring to dream of hydraulically-operated mushroom-shaped stage architecture and unfathomable wells of lonely lyrics composed upon esoteric topics and giant synthesisers, if These People are now part of Thee Establishment... well, thusly are they rendered toothless.  The really excellent thing about prog rock, in my opinion, is its ability to make people uncomfortable – its propensity to needle otherwise rational beings to outbursts of apoplectic discomfiture.  “But you can’t do that!” they splutter.  “You mustn’t!  It’s -- it’s not decent!”


Beneficent Aneurysm )
songofcopper: (peter hammill)
[Notice To Patrons: there is a lot of ‘I’ in this entry.  Look Away Now if self-referential rambling is not yer glass o’tea...]

So apparently, last night saw a gathering of the luminaries of the Progressive Rock world, and prizes were handed out to the sparkliest amongst them.  Yes, lads ’n’ lasses ’n’ leftovers – it was none other than the Progressive Music Awards.  This scintillant conventicle of caped crusaders convened under the auspices of Prog Magazine – a glossy, overpriced periodical that I, for one, have failed to buy in several railway stations.

Prizewinners (really, it’s too like Speech Day at a minor public school) included Rick Wakeman, who was hailed as ‘Prog God’ (which presumably equates to Victor Ludorum) and Peter Hammill, who took laurels in the ‘Visionary’ category (…I dunno, is that like Scripture Knowledge?!).

The above intelligence gives me furiously to think.  For it seems that Progressive Rock music, after decades of being considered unspeakable, inscrutable, an under-the-counter brown-paper-bag habit of the stubborn few (‘On entend le prog, on ne cite pas’ to misquote a Frenchman), has suddenly been deemed… ok.  Venerable, perhaps.  And even somewhat hip.

This astounds me, and slightly worries me as well.  I’m astounded because generally, anything that seeks self-consciously to be intellectual, earnest, extravagant and emotional is given short shrift by approximately 80% of British citizens.  (Sincerity and cleverness make them uncomfortable, don’t you know.)  The worry comes because… if these scary and outré creatures, these wide-eyed pioneers, daring to dream of hydraulically-operated mushroom-shaped stage architecture and unfathomable wells of lonely lyrics composed upon esoteric topics and giant synthesisers, if These People are now part of Thee Establishment... well, thusly are they rendered toothless.  The really excellent thing about prog rock, in my opinion, is its ability to make people uncomfortable – its propensity to needle otherwise rational beings to outbursts of apoplectic discomfiture.  “But you can’t do that!” they splutter.  “You mustn’t!  It’s -- it’s not decent!”


Beneficent Aneurysm )
songofcopper: (poirot)
...Shock treatment -
I'm doing fine!

So saith the Ramones. ;-)

However, this is perhaps a rather drastic solution to the problem of Happiness and How to Get It.  Unless your neurons have really and truly given up their normal function, the chances are something simpler may help. ;-P

One Day We'll Look Back And Laugh... )
songofcopper: (poirot)
...Shock treatment -
I'm doing fine!

So saith the Ramones. ;-)

However, this is perhaps a rather drastic solution to the problem of Happiness and How to Get It.  Unless your neurons have really and truly given up their normal function, the chances are something simpler may help. ;-P

One Day We'll Look Back And Laugh... )
songofcopper: (magma lava)
[You get two entries in one here!  So, for the sake of those who want to skip over one or other portion, you get TWO lj-cuts!  Which one will you click...?!  Ack, the suspense...!  I need a cup of tea...! ;-P]

I am relieved to tell you that it doesn’t take much to make me happy.  And today I am in a very happy mood.

Whereas, as per my previous laments on the matter, I still don’t find anything much to charm me in the outpourings of Henry Cow, the other day I finally gave Ruins a listen…

Rrrramblement of a musical humour... )

Meanwhile… a little amateur philosophy. o__O

Musical microscopy... )
songofcopper: (magma lava)
[You get two entries in one here!  So, for the sake of those who want to skip over one or other portion, you get TWO lj-cuts!  Which one will you click...?!  Ack, the suspense...!  I need a cup of tea...! ;-P]

I am relieved to tell you that it doesn’t take much to make me happy.  And today I am in a very happy mood.

Whereas, as per my previous laments on the matter, I still don’t find anything much to charm me in the outpourings of Henry Cow, the other day I finally gave Ruins a listen…

Rrrramblement of a musical humour... )

Meanwhile… a little amateur philosophy. o__O

Musical microscopy... )

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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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