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The Anti-Complexity Age Modulation Plugins
Old 2nd January 2011
  #1
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The Anti-Complexity Age

Not sure I share this perspective, but it's an interesting article.

- c
Old 2nd January 2011
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

Thanks for posting that. Very interesting article!
Old 2nd January 2011
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Writers about music need a thesis, they then amplify on the thesis. It gives them lots of words they can write down. The trouble is they believe it, then there's others that believe these writings, then industry types who buy these formulas start dictating to musicians what it's all about, forcing the musicians into constrictive molds until someone who's been ignoring these constrictions breaks out, then the writers come up with a new thesis to explain the new development, and the little boxes cycle starts all over again.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #4
Hemlines go up. Hemlines go down.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #5
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Silver Sonya's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Egan View Post
Writers about music need a thesis, they then amplify on the thesis. It gives them lots of words they can write down. The trouble is they believe it, then there's others that believe these writings, then industry types who buy these formulas start dictating to musicians what it's all about, forcing the musicians into constrictive molds until someone who's been ignoring these constrictions breaks out, then the writers come up with a new thesis to explain the new development, and the little boxes cycle starts all over again.
You think critics drive the industry?

- c
Old 2nd January 2011
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Do I think critics drive the industry?

Unfortunately, yes. There's probably an incredible vibrant, eclectic music scene around you, around us all, everywhere. In Boston, it's always been there, yet if you listen to the radio, with rare exception, it's essentially islands of homogeneity. You go out to the clubs around Boston, the creativity and breadth of original music and good musicianship is mindblowing. You wouldn't know there's so much exciting, interesting and original music if you listen to the radio. This kind of stultifying categorization isn't a consequence of what musicians are doing, it's from some kind of expert mentality.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Egan View Post
Do I think critics drive the industry?

Unfortunately, yes. There's probably an incredible vibrant, eclectic music scene around you, around us all, everywhere. In Boston, it's always been there, yet if you listen to the radio, with rare exception, it's essentially islands of homogeneity. You go out to the clubs around Boston, the creativity and breadth of original music and good musicianship is mindblowing. You wouldn't know there's so much exciting, interesting and original music if you listen to the radio. This kind of stultifying categorization isn't a consequence of what musicians are doing, it's from some kind of expert mentality.
I think we may be blurring/broadening terms here. I mean "critic" as in writer for newspapers, etc.

- c
Old 2nd January 2011
  #8
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Egan View Post
Writers about music need a thesis, they then amplify on the thesis. It gives them lots of words they can write down. The trouble is they believe it, then there's others that believe these writings, then industry types who buy these formulas start dictating to musicians what it's all about, forcing the musicians into constrictive molds until someone who's been ignoring these constrictions breaks out, then the writers come up with a new thesis to explain the new development, and the little boxes cycle starts all over again.
This nails it!
Old 2nd January 2011
  #9
I have to kind of agree with him. These ages of manufactured pop come and go, and we are in one now. Traditionally they'd have to end when a new generation came along and blindly rebelled against what came before them (be it good or bad.) But when kids gave up paying for music, they also probably gave up any (or almost all the) power they had over the music industry, IMO. So I'm not sure if they will be able to force a change this time.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #10
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AfterViewer's Avatar
 

Interesting scenario, Dean. It will be interesting to watch where the "path of least resistance" flows when the time comes.
Old 2nd January 2011
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
A4722's Avatar
 

Orchestrations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Egan View Post
Writers about music need a thesis, they then amplify on the thesis. It gives them lots of words they can write down. The trouble is they believe it, then there's others that believe these writings, then industry types who buy these formulas start dictating to musicians what it's all about, forcing the musicians into constrictive molds until someone who's been ignoring these constrictions breaks out, then the writers come up with a new thesis to explain the new development, and the little boxes cycle starts all over again.
Seems like job security for them.... if they can wait out the cycles.

Very similar to Acedemia and certain branches of science.

The "chaos creates cash" business model....

I say that the money sources understand these cycles all to well and have a decent idea of when the "next big thing" should occur :

Fibonacci Sequence (PRIME)
Old 2nd January 2011
  #12
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

The eternal problem is that a hit needs to be easy to learn before the end of the first listening but profound enough to be enjoyable when heard over and over. When the latter goal has been achieved nobody notices the simplicity that made it easy to learn and get into.

Don't get me started on "critics."
Old 2nd January 2011
  #13
Gear Head
 

i agree with the article in that the indie rock thing is totally corporate and dumbed down.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #14
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steveschizoid's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph Egan View Post
There's probably an incredible vibrant, eclectic music scene around you, around us all, everywhere...
thumbsup
I have several bands in process right now, and they are all way more interesting than whatever happens to be on the radio when I tune in.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The eternal problem is that a hit needs to be easy to learn before the end of the first listening but profound enough to be enjoyable when heard over and over. When the latter goal has been achieved nobody notices the simplicity that made it easy to learn and get into.

Don't get me started on "critics."
I might just be a chaos-lovin' neo-anarchist, but something tells me it might be pretty interesting to do just that. heh



FWIW, almost all professional writers -- not just academics -- are locked in a publish or perish paradigm. They have to find something to say.

I didn't disagree with much of what Pareles said, but it also didn't exactly seem revelatory. Pop music is currently simple and dumb, as it has been in the past. Previously, it was overproduced and dumb,..

It's pop music's job to be schmaltzy, sentimental, low brow, preterliterate, vulgar (often in both common senses of the word)...

When it's also so irresistibly, compellingly catchy that smart guys like us get suckered in, that's how we know it's great pop music.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #16
Yeah... it seemed like kind of a hollow critique, more name dropping than actual analysis, and this incohate yearning for things to be different than they are...
Old 3rd January 2011
  #17
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Pareles is, and always has been, a silly little man, and a boring critic. (The guy must be in his sixties, by now -- and he's still writing about music designed for teenagers?)

The New York Times knows nothing about pop culture. (Or much else, for that matter.)

The article isn't saying anything new.
Old 3rd January 2011
  #18
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sventvkg's Avatar
 

All the pop bull**** they talked about in that article is sophomoric idiocy and just because it had millions of dollars behind it and it was shoved down people's throats doesn't make it good. It's **** plain and simple.
Old 4th January 2011
  #19
Gear Maniac
Generally, writers on music are writers, not musicians/composers. Who cares what they think about anything musical. They might have something to say about music in relation to other aspects of culture and society, but they have nothing intelligent to say about the music itself.
Old 5th January 2011
  #20
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

I think non-musician writers can play an important role representing fans that musicians really can't. That doesn't mean they all manage to accomplish something meaningful.

Some of the greatest records have been produced by non-musician/non-engineer producers too.
Old 5th January 2011
  #21
Gear Maniac
 
tzujan's Avatar
 

What annoys me about this article is that Jon Pareles, like most of his peers, seems to be whining about the current trends in music but choose to "promote" records buy using the incredible power of the New York Times to review the current buzz bands and big label offerings. If the guy had any balls he would not except PR calls and just listen to cd baby's weekly editors picks and truly discover something new. But that would require putting his name on the line and would not create enough SEO / web hits to keep his job - or maybe the integrity would do him good.

I am probably just disgruntled that they didn't review our record. - Hey Jon if you change your mind - we still love you!
Old 5th January 2011
  #22
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A4722's Avatar
 

The Machine

Quote:
Originally Posted by sventvkg View Post
All the pop bull**** they talked about in that article is sophomoric idiocy and just because it had millions of dollars behind it and it was shoved down people's throats doesn't make it good. It's **** plain and simple.
Yes, but it is POPULAR sh_t, therefore it must be good.
Old 5th January 2011
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A4722 View Post
Yes, but it is POPULAR sh_t, therefore it must be good.

The funny thing to keep in mind is it's not just about popularity. Like Dean suggested, it's about sales.

Sales and popularity are not really the same thing anymore. Piracy has caused uneven effects across different demographics. One of the only demographics still buying music in large quantities is tweeny girls. Therefore, the music we hear is more and more disproportionately tailored for their tastes.

If you want to make a living selling music, you have to target the audience that is willing to pay.

If music is dumbing down, it is because the few people still voting with their wallets like dumb music.

That's how the market works.
Old 5th January 2011
  #24
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sventvkg View Post
...just because it had millions of dollars behind it and it was shoved down people's throats doesn't make it good...
What's the last recording you or anybody you know bought because it was shoved down your throat by a million dollar campaign?

What's the last recording that had millions of dollars behind it that broke even financially?
Old 5th January 2011
  #25
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KevWind's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
The eternal problem is that a hit needs to be easy to learn before the end of the first listening but profound enough to be enjoyable when heard over and over. When the latter goal has been achieved nobody notices the simplicity that made it easy to learn and get into.

Don't get me started on "critics."
Bob hit the nail and drove it home in one simple stroke. (much like what a hit song should be) Especially In terms of what has been true of hit songs that still get air play 10 -20 -40 + years later. There are rare exceptions of course but most mega hits are relatively simple.
I don't think that the article was about this type of simplicity. It seems to me the article was more about the money driven, bean counter, media conglomerate mentality and its simplistic cookie cutter effect on today's radio.
Old 5th January 2011
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
What's the last recording you or anybody you know bought because it was shoved down your throat by a million dollar campaign?

What's the last recording that had millions of dollars behind it that broke even financially?
And, even more, isn't the push era over? It seems to me that we are a in a pull world now for the most part, or getting close to it. You can't really push something down people's throats if they are pulling almost all of their content from non-broadcast sources.
Old 5th January 2011
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
I have to kind of agree with him. These ages of manufactured pop come and go, and we are in one now. Traditionally they'd have to end when a new generation came along and blindly rebelled against what came before them (be it good or bad.) But when kids gave up paying for music, they also probably gave up any (or almost all the) power they had over the music industry, IMO. So I'm not sure if they will be able to force a change this time.
insightful and probably accurate.

most of those changes also came from supportive communities, be it punk, hip-hop, grunge, techno or death metal. with no one left to support new music financially, as well as culturally, the incentive to create and promote new works which will only be stolen is diminished.
Old 6th January 2011
  #28
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lives For Fuzz View Post
...most of those changes also came from supportive communities, be it punk, hip-hop, grunge, techno or death metal...
More specifically, they came out of new performance venues that created a new community which in turn created their own stars that managers and record labels went on to fund. That's where all of the interesting stuff came from. You can trace that pattern right back to the beginning of music.
Old 7th January 2011
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
A4722's Avatar
 

A business model

Quote:
Originally Posted by mobius.media View Post
The funny thing to keep in mind is it's not just about popularity. Like Dean suggested, it's about sales.

Sales and popularity are not really the same thing anymore. Piracy has caused uneven effects across different demographics. One of the only demographics still buying music in large quantities is tweeny girls. Therefore, the music we hear is more and more disproportionately tailored for their tastes.

If you want to make a living selling music, you have to target the audience that is willing to pay.

If music is dumbing down, it is because the few people still voting with their wallets like dumb music.

That's how the market works.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson
What's the last recording you or anybody you know bought because it was shoved down your throat by a million dollar campaign?

What's the last recording that had millions of dollars behind it that broke even financially?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dean Roddey View Post
And, even more, isn't the push era over? It seems to me that we are a in a pull world now for the most part, or getting close to it. You can't really push something down people's throats if they are pulling almost all of their content from non-broadcast sources.
Yes. "Popular" as in popular with those who are willing to pay (which is really the only "legitimate" gauge we have - sales). The critics in this arena are there to supposedly help the buying public make decisions within that realm and/or point the buying public to noteworthy deserving acts. To those whom the critic caters to, the critic has influence and, coupled with the right marketing (see below), can create a well orchestrated feeding frenzy that will help define "popular".

The radio/pop media is still a "force feed" for the most part, it's just the nature of the beast. It is incestuous, tightly controlled, and responsible (to an extent) for setting trends among those who use it as their main source of music (and information about what is out there to consume). Radio, in some form, is heard in stores, restaurants, gyms, office buildings, job sites, etc.

The radio can actually train listeners to hear (through osmosis) and respond to music in a certain way (preying on the subtle idea that "this song is popular, why else would we play it, you should like it too - or else you don't fit in - you need to like this for your own good, don't you"). It is a known mechanism of implied peer pressure (aimed mainly at the youth and/or under-informed) and has been exploited since marketing/sales began. It is not totally predictable, but many have made a killing playing the averages.

So, it appears that there is some sort of link between those who listen for free (radio/pop media audience) and those who buy (what was provided for free, which is where we get the sales numbers for what is popular)...

Information is King.

Last edited by A4722; 7th January 2011 at 06:21 AM.. Reason: clarify
Old 7th January 2011
  #30
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
What's the last recording you or anybody you know bought because it was shoved down your throat by a million dollar campaign?
Use Your Illusion I and II, no joke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
What's the last recording that had millions of dollars behind it that broke even financially?
I wouldn't know.

In any case, the only radio I listen to here in Los Angeles is K-Earth (oldies) and KCRW (modern independent/borderline condescending indie music). If there's any difference in pop music for me, it's that it's no longer memorable.

For example, I heard David Byrne's voice as a child and even though I wasn't a fan, I'd know his voice anywhere. Same goes for a lot of others going back even before I was born. Once I heard them, I remembered them and could naturally recall them without thinking about it.

The fact that I cannot tell the difference between most pop artists now either says something about the music (still catchy but non-remarkable), something about me (i'm getting old), or maybe both (I feel like I've heard better in my past "when it was better").
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