Sunday, April 22, 2007

Radio/ Video

I think this is my theory, but I'm not sure.

It's called D'Souza's Musical Circle (a bit like the political circle, and Eddie Izzard's 'circle of cool').

I don't proclaim one musical form to be better than another - from S Club 7 to Ministry...it's all expression, memories, and emotion.

I also find it hard to categorise music, and my own music taste because it's so varied. I tend to like things with some authenticity behind them, but then find myself dancing silly moves to things like 'Baby One More Time' by Britney Spears and enjoying it.

Everything has it's place.

Let's begin with pop. Cheesy, mainstream, vocal pop songs that are short, sweet, catchy and mid-tempo. Its purpose is to sell and make money: from Abba to Cliff Richard. They're safe. From there we add a dash of guitar. It's still popular, but perhaps the bands are writing their owns songs (how can we forget the Beatles?)

Increasing the distortion on the guitar, and volume on the drums, things are getting a bit crazier, but still melodic. 'Rock' tends to be a catch-all for all guitar-based music. It's quite catchy, singable, and it does range from soft-rock to hard-rock.

Of course the earlier versions of rock were far more anti-establishment: rock'n'roll...which was derived from the blues...they sit quite comfortably at this stage in the circle. Along with the mad experimentation of Jazz).

Taking the distortion on the guitar, but varying it a little, and perhaps a more internal focus on lyrics - it's moving into indie-pop. This is perhaps an oxymoron as the music seeks to bring together 'popular' and 'independent'.

Now change the vocals a little, make the lyrics more anti-establishment and teenage angsty...more aggressive, faster guitar...we're into punk and all it's variants...and what variants they are from hardcore, to stoner, to grunge...they're all rooted in the punk ethic.

After that, it's a simple link to the world of metal. Faster, harder guitars, darker lyrical themes, mental drumming. But a focus on live performance. (There are, of course, variants on a theme: trad-metal, power metal, thrash, rap-metal...)

If however, some samples are added, and the drums are created artificially...well - that's entering the world of Ministry, Skinny Puppy, NIN...it's Industrial. (Goth sits nicely between Metal and Industrial).

Speeding up the drums, and keeping with the samples...we end up in the world of trance and techno. Repetitive beats, loud bass...it's all there...(it's only one aggressive vocal away from industrial!) I mean Gabber is really the ultimate melding of Industrial and Trance (check out Ultraviolence).

Alter the drumbeats slightly, and the vocals and the tags drum'n'bass and breakbeat are more appropriate. Although there are a couple of unique bands that manage to straddle drum'n'bass and punk (the ethics of home-made music are not so far removed from each other ) - for example: the Prodigy and Pitch Shifter spring to mind.

If the drumbeats are slowed slightly, the world of 'house music' opens up. The repetitive beats, home-made basics and sampled vocals provide an accessible route to the dancefloor for the most atrocious and talentless dancers. Some say it's trance for the masses.

Slow down the drum beats further - stay with the sample-based style, keep with the spoken rhythmic vocals...well that's hip-hop...and it's allies - trip-hop anyone (check out Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky...)

Of course the sample-based music is nowhere without the samples...and where are they all from? Well...anyone for disco? House and hip-hop derive the majority of their samples from disco (and it's dirty sister funk!) Mad basslines, keyboards, and an emphasis on rhythm...all the key elements of disco and funk; as well as a brilliant ability with their instruments...

Of course the catchiness of disco, the danger of hip-hop, and talent of the funk players made it an easy product to sell. Combine these elements of disco, house, and hip-hop water it down...and well - it becomes r'n'b - (no not the proper rhythm and blues of Ray Charles, or the soul of Motown - but it's bastardised-high-selling-offspring - hip-pop)...the classic case of re-appropriating black-based culture for the masses.

I'm sure I read somewhere that it's the best-selling musical genre on the planet...

Make r'n'b a little safer, commoditise it...yes still use samples, and computers to create a catchy song, a little cheesy, mid-tempo...and um...well - we're back at pop music...the circle is complete!

Does this make sense?

I think I've missed few out...but everything has its place on the circle somewhere...I'm sure...

Enjoy!

J.

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BTW - look at the pic and fixate on the central dot. Now move closer and further from the monitor...