i'm listening to Bjork... and can't understand...
reax
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#1
14th February 2006
Old 14th February 2006
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i'm listening to Bjork... and can't understand...

Hello!
I'm so inspired by Bjork's album "Vespertine"...
but i can't understand her style of composing...
what's the first thing, which she begins her track?

When i make track, i improvise with melody and then put the bass and then beats and in the end of my work i have r'n'b or other pop-track by copy-pasting and adding some instruments and fx's, but how does she begin such style of music, where so many pieces...
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14th February 2006
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I dont know björk nor do I know something about music in general (metal-guy)

I like her songs too! they live from her voice I think.

Do you know Mozart? If its true what films, and books tell, he wrote down only the music on paper what he had in his head. fully composed arrangements.

I think it's this direction. Idea first, then trying to think about the arrangement, last step transfer it to the computer.

I can't do it myself but I am shure there are other people around who can do this.

cheers
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14th February 2006
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Imagine that you are standing outside in a large field, looking at the horizon from left, to right.

You see nothing but horizon...as you move your head to the right, you see a mountain, then you see a valley, a forest, then you see some buildings, you see some trees, you see another mountain, you see another valley.

That is where you need to be, as the creator of the music.

When you are listening, as part of the audience, you do not see the entire landscape at once, or from a distance. You are walking, or in a car, wondering what is coming next.
reax
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14th February 2006
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Thanks, George, for your answer, i'm agree with you that the idea is the most important thing, but let's assume how to achieve such effect of composing without the idea in the head, but with practical knowledges of arranging...?
Here's what i found in the inet:

"Björk describes what she wants in terms of sounds in a language that to an observer might appear surreal or even nonsensical. But Björk and I have had a connection for a long time, and the people she chooses to work with are often selected with an eye on this. I remember from our very early sessions how she described a sound by saying 'You know when you get a tube of toothpaste and you squeeze it and you watch the toothpaste coming out the end of the tube? You need to have it sounding more like that!', and on another occasion she said 'Hold a pineapple in your hand and look at the fluffy bit at the top, well it needs to sound more like that!' They tend to be very poetic descriptions of what she wants to hear, and you either get it or you don't."

Let's try to understand the creation's structure of her songs...
reax
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14th February 2006
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thank you, toledo3, it's quite creative vision, that i'll use today, when will make music, maybe it'll give some results...
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14th February 2006
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i'm pretty sure that most of her music is written by matmos and she contributes bits and pieces to the music.

now matmos on the other hand is something i barely understand. they do some seriously interesting/confusing/amazing music but it's quite a bit difficult to sit down and listen to.
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14th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by toledo3
Imagine that you are standing outside in a large field, looking at the horizon from left, to right.

You see nothing but horizon...as you move your head to the right, you see a mountain, then you see a valley, a forest, then you see some buildings, you see some trees, you see another mountain, you see another valley.

That is where you need to be, as the creator of the music.

When you are listening, as part of the audience, you do not see the entire landscape at once, or from a distance. You are walking, or in a car, wondering what is coming next.

Well put.
#8
14th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dawg
i'm pretty sure that most of her music is written by matmos and she contributes bits and pieces to the music.
Not true.

Bjork does collaborate(her best in my opinion are with Mark Bell).

But she also produces,arranges and lays out her ideas as well.


Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Dawg

now matmos on the other hand is something i barely understand. they do some seriously interesting/confusing/amazing music but it's quite a bit difficult to sit down and listen to.

I love Matmos.

"A Chance to Cut is a chance to cure","The Civil War", "The West" are electronic classics.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
Bjork does collaborate(her best in my opinion are with Mark Bell).
I concur. His stuff with LFO was incredible (no folks, not that LFO)
#10
14th February 2006
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I remember her saying something about starting with bass lines and beats, just like a lot of other people.

Except she's a genius.
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14th February 2006
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Somehow some friends of mine ended up with her Nord Modular keyboard (no, not stolen). It had stickers with the note one an octave of the keys. I don't know if she put them there but that's how it was when they got it. I hope there's a good explanation
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14th February 2006
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Yeah, Björk is good!

I saw an interview with her and for one song she was out bicycling and find an old chappel. She went in and started playing with the old "pump organ" that was standing there and the next thing she had wrote a new song. (I think it was The Anchor Song on Debut but don't quote me)

/Cojo
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14th February 2006
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Debut is my favourite album ever. Pure genious in terms of melody, performance, production, mixing.

Also liked the following album Post very much.

But then it started going downhill really fast, Homogenic was very boriing and obnoxious in some places - and then things started descending into the musical equivalent of picking your belly button.
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15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt
Debut is my favourite album ever. Pure genious in terms of melody, performance, production, mixing.

Also liked the following album Post very much.

But then it started going downhill really fast, Homogenic was very boriing and obnoxious in some places - and then things started descending into the musical equivalent of picking your belly button.
Dude we see and hear things so differently.



I gather you like bright pop and dance music right?


Homogenic by far is her best work(Mark Bell production).


Its dark,emotional and the string arrangements are fantastic.


I've never been a fan of Spike Stent mixes but this is by far to me his best work.


Her pinnacle if you ask me.


Second would be Post(when she was still dating Tricky) of the real poppy melodic stuff.


It also has production by Nelle Hooper,Graham Massey,Howie B and Tricky.


It has great all around productions from dance,show tunes,love songs and such.


Vespertine was her first self produced album.


When i listen to Debut i hear her establishing herself.
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15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
Dude we see and hear things so differently.



I gather you like bright pop and dance music right?


Homogenic by far is her best work(Mark Bell production).


Its dark,emotional and the string arrangements are fantastic.


I've never been a fan of Spike Stent mixes but this is by far to me his best work.


Her pinnacle if you ask me.


Second would be Post(when she was still dating Tricky) of the real poppy melodic stuff.


It also has production by Nelle Hooper,Graham Massey,Howie B and Tricky.


It has great all around productions from dance,show tunes,love songs and such.


Vespertine was her first self produced album.


When i listen to Debut i hear her establishing herself.
Thrill's right. Homogenic is a fricken masterpiece. And I too love Post, as well.

I just completed an album with an artist who is a friend and collaborator of Bjork's. She spoke very highly of her and mentioned that she is an amazing composer-always full of inspired ideas.

She told me that everytime the sessions were backed-up, Bjork would point to the computer and say, 'It's remembering!!!'
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15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picksail
She told me that everytime the sessions were backed-up, Bjork would point to the computer and say, 'It's remembering!!!'
#17
15th February 2006
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Vespertine SOUNDS amazing. Great stuff. What's up with Iceland? Is there an overabundance of musical geniuses there or something? Everything I seem to hear that comes from there is very innovative and awesome.

I always imagined that she wrote much of the music herself, and conveyed it to her producer through her voice. Beatboxing, singing the string/guitar/whatever parts...

She also gave an great performance as Tad Ghostal's wife on "Space Ghost Coast 2 Coast" alongside Thom Yorke...

Bjork: "I have to go to the toilet."

Tad: "You remember the difference between the toilet and the couch, right?"

Bjork: "I think so."

Tad: "And remember how angry I got..."

Bjork: "It smells like... bad eggs."

Tad: "Well, that's what happens when you boil the cushions of the couch you've been urinating on!"

Bjork: "Yeah'm?"

Tad: "Oh oh, and, as long as I've got you here, tell that French DJ Tricky to move out!"

Bjork: "What's his name again?"

Tad: "I don't know, he's your damned friend."

Bjork: "And I would love to introduce you to him."

Tad: "I've met him...He's living on our couch...with the urine. And tell him to stop letting in strangers to listen to his new beats."

Bjork: "It makes all the children happy."

Tad: "Honey, those aren't children, they're packets of cream cheese."

Bjork: "Sometimes I can't separate between the two, do you know that?"

Tad: "Yeah. I wish I'd known that when we were just dating."

Bjork: "You have a mask, has anyone told you?"

Tad: "Uh, honey? I buried a present for you out in the yard. Why don't you go dig it up?"

Bjork: [something Icelandic]

Tad: "Yeah...Well, I'll tell him you said that."

Thom: "So...what'd you bury?"

Tad: "Her mother."

Zorak: "Cool."

Tad: "No, Zorak...it's just a bagel...she started calling 'mother'."

Okay, I'll stop now.
#18
15th February 2006
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Homogenic is a little cold to me. I think Vespertine is a masterpiece, and history will prove it to be one of the greatest albums of all time.

That said, Bjork can do no wrong.

OK. I take that back. Have you ever seen her duet with PJ Harvey on "It's Only Rock and Roll"? Embarassing.
#19
15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitgong
Homogenic is a little cold to me. I think Vespertine is a masterpiece, and history will prove it to be one of the greatest albums of all time.

That said, Bjork can do no wrong.

OK. I take that back. Have you ever seen her duet with PJ Harvey on "It's Only Rock and Roll"? Embarassing.
Don't get me wrong I love ALL of her work. I just think that the overall production and collaboration with Mark Bell on Homogenic is top-shelf.

I really enjoy the work she did with Mike Patton on the last album.
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15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitgong
Homogenic is a little cold to me. I

But that's what so great about it.


How she conveys her emotions and where she was in her life totally coincide with the music and production.


Its a perfect match.


They are feelings that everyone has felt at one time or another but don't really know how to convey.


I mean "The Hunter" is one of her classic songs.


I thought Spike Stent did a great job in adding the effects/remixing to match the orchestra with the electronica.


I remember reading that Bjork was totally shocked when she first heard it.


Its totally influenced her style ever since.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
I mean "The Hunter" is one of her classic songs.
Christ, that's my favorite tune on the album.
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Lagerfeldt, Thrill, Picksail, Mitgong... You're all wrong. Her best is "Birthday" (the single).

Just kidding. But... I still remember the first time I heard that "chorus" in Birthday (also the first time I heard her voice)--left me breathless. (Particularly enjoy the Jesus & Mary Chain remix too.)

Peece,
T. Tauri

Actually, I agree with Mitgong: Vespertine's the masterpiece to me.
AjD
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15th February 2006
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Getting back to the compositional question, I remember reading that for Homogenic, she had one of those little Yamaha SY (?) series samplers, and she did demos of most of the tunes on that before bringing them to her producer, who helped flesh them out (brough in that Icelandic string section, did arrangements, etc.).

With all the wonderful poetic commentary offered earlier in this thread ("Picture a horizon and look to the mountains for inspiration," or whatever it was), I'm fairly certain Bjork is as nuts-n-bolts as the rest of us. Or someone collaborating with her is.

Coltrane rehearsed/worked a 40 hour week in order to deliver his sound. It seemed effortless, but it wasn't (and they called it improv!). Bjork's very good, so she's definitely been busting her ass working hard at it - and there's bound to be a process she uses to get results. I'm guesing part of her gift is finding "perfect fit" collaborators and communicating well with them (a extremely difficult task in itself).

That's just how work gets done. Don't let the eccentric clothes - or, for that matter, her loopy (no pun!) interviews - fool you.

Adam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AjD
With all the wonderful poetic commentary offered earlier in this thread ("Picture a horizon and look to the mountains for inspiration," or whatever it was), I'm fairly certain Bjork is as nuts-n-bolts as the rest of us. Or someone collaborating with her is.
Personally, I find the more poetic/loopy/etc stuff to be quite nuts-n-bolts in a certain way, I must say. The point of music is to communicate things, and one of the particular strengths and appeals of Bjork to me is that her music doesn't come across like the only thing these sounds and compositions are communicating is "it sounds like this other piece of music by artist X/Y/Z" (which regrettably is the main language I find clients and myself communicating in when discussing how a sound should sound).

Peece,
T. Tauri
#25
15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thethrillfactor
I gather you like bright pop and dance music right?
Yeah, I do. I also like dark and moody. I also like classical, I also like rock, I also like just about any music that just speaks to my brain, heart or feet.

So it's got nothing to do with style, just a question of what speaks to my feelings. And Debut does that in abundance while Homogenic leaves me slightly cold in comparison.

I don't hear her "establishing herself" on Debut (despite the title), I hear that during her time in Sugarcubes (which I also have, right back from their first vinyls). I also love Birthday but one of my favourites is her rendition of "I Remember You" on a UK EP of Venus As A Boy, anyone hear that?

By the way I know Thomas Knak who produced some tracks with Björk. :-)

Anyway, this thread has made me wanna get into the Homogenic album again, it's not bad - just not a masterpiece in my book.
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15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagerfeldt
Debut is my favourite album ever. Pure genious in terms of melody, performance, production, mixing.

Also liked the following album Post very much.

But then it started going downhill really fast, Homogenic was very boriing and obnoxious in some places - and then things started descending into the musical equivalent of picking your belly button.
Im with you
Love the videos
#27
15th February 2006
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Interesting thread.

There was one that implied that Bjork might have had stickers with the notes on a keyboard. So what? Does that mean she isn't a real composer (or did I miss something). The composition process is not as much about knowing notes and instrument ranges etc. anymore. With today’s technology it is about knowing sounds, imagining sounds, realising sounds. You need a new vocabulary and a new mental way of composing. I think most of so-called modern music sounds stale and alike because the composers/producers use old ways of thinking, like drums then bass then guitars, keys - or drum-loop then bass-loop then keys etc. And is very conservative tonally/harmonically.

I think the horizon metaphor was fine, but I'm not so sure it's accurate. Music needn't be linear. So perhaps you should think of your composition as a story (the timeline) in a small, imaginary world (the soundscape). Or something.

Not so sure I'm making sense - but I tried ;-)
---

I also have a favourite album, but it's a pretty obscure release called Gling Glo with a mediocre (that's being friendly) Icelandic jazz band. But her vocals on this is (or something).

She sounds like she knows per instinct all the techniques that singers use - and then some. A force of nature.
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15th February 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by respirator
CUT-->There was one that implied that Bjork might have had stickers with the notes on a keyboard. So what? Does that mean she isn't a real composer (or did I miss something). The composition process is not as much about knowing notes and instrument ranges etc. anymore. With today’s technology it is about knowing sounds, imagining sounds, realising sounds. You need a new vocabulary and a new mental way of composing. I think most of so-called modern music sounds stale and alike because the composers/producers use old ways of thinking, like drums then bass then guitars, keys - or drum-loop then bass-loop then keys etc. And is very conservative tonally/harmonically.<--CUT
So true, so tru. Verry well said!

Quote:
CUT-->I think the horizon metaphor was fine, but I'm not so sure it's accurate. Music needn't be linear. So perhaps you should think of your composition as a story (the timeline) in a small, imaginary world (the soundscape). Or something.

Not so sure I'm making sense - but I tried ;-)<--CUT
Wasn't it Stockhousen or Eno that developed this "compose to the landscape" thing?

/Cojo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitgong
I remember her saying something about starting with bass lines and beats, just like a lot of other people.
Heard one song of her latest work and it sure sounded like that.

Ruphus
#30
15th February 2006
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As for the original question, I remember reading somewhere that on her Medulla album (the all vocal one), it actually started out as full-on instrumental production, and slowly (or on a whim in bjork's way) got stripped down to purely vocal arrangements. It might explain why those songs are even harder -to me at least- to grasp. Perhaps its this method of adding then stripping away at her work that makes it harder to comprehend the original composition idea in the final -mutant- product. But regardless, her music is always stunning, and I agree that Homogenic has some of the most sublimely beautifull arrangement/production ever created. As much as i want to analyze and understand it, i cant listen to it withought getting totally lost in the sound: Amazing.
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