Sunday, May 6, 2012

Minimalism In Music - Week 4

Hello and welcome to The Melody Within Week 4. I owe everyone an apology because this is about two weeks late and I also promised a podcast. Do I have an excuse? Kind of. I personally became very busy with work, prom, school and family. And to add to that, I was having problems embedding Soundcloud into my post and didn't have time to mess with it. So here we go, Minimalism In Music. What is minimalism you ask? Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts. It is very prominent in music and is rarely thought of or even known about. Yet it's influence on certain styles of music is wide and can be used and mastered as a writing style.

Now some people might already know this but I am a huge Jack White fanboy. Everything he has produced with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs and his solo music has been phenominal. But aside from the quality of the music, minimalism is prominent in his writing style. Listen to this exert and listen to the lyrics, it's "Little Room" by The White Stripes and it explains a minimalistic way of thinking very well.

As simple as can be. A rhythm, a melody and lyrics. Even though there are only three layers to this song, it still expresses it's ideas and emotions effeciently. This leads us to the questions of... How complex or simple does a song need to be? Does a song need to be complex to be considered good? Can a song be too complex? A lot of lesser educated music listeners will argue against simple music, especially rock listeners. They say "Well geeze the song only has three chords, this music sucks." They think that music can be rated or judged depending on it's compexity. I whole heatingly disagree. I'll show you another audio sample from the white stripes, their famous seven nation army. Listen to this clip and think to yourself, "Does the music that is being made express an emotion?

Now listen to this song, everyone knows it. It is Flight Of The Bumblebee. Ask yourself the same thing when listening to it.

As I hope you have concluded, both songs express different emotions. Now everybody interprets art differently, so my emotional interpretation may be a little different from yours but Seven Nation Army gives me a feeling of contentness. Kind of like a "I'm going to do what I want and I'm happy". Flight of the Bumblebee gives me a feeling of anxiety, it makes me feel like I am late to work!

So as you can tell, emotions and ideas can be expressed in any degree of complexity. So with that rule in mind, I will state this important statement. DO NOT RULE OUT MUSIC BECAUSE IT IS SIMPLE. Sometimes "less is more" can be harder to do than making extremely complex melodies and rhythms sound nice to the ear. In Seven Nation Army there are multiple raw layers. A simple, 4/4 rhythm, a bassline/guitar part that serves as melody and chord structure, a melody coming from his voice and lyrics explaining ideas. Even though there is not much there, the song seems perfect. It's catchy, it's cool, it's unique and it is beautiful in it's own way. So I encourage everyone to understand these concepts. There is nothing wrong with simple or complex music. They both serve their own parts purposes in music.

Until next week, stay loud and proud

Music recommendations for this week.
Rush - Red Sector A
Powerglove - Tetris
BB King - The Thrill Is Gone

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