1242 Comments

CGI animation is overrated- I much prefer traditional 2D forms. Unfortunately, a lot of people seem not to agree with me.

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Also chronically underrated: stop motion

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Long live Ray Harryhausen!!

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and don't forget the marionettes from Gerry Anderson. Not stop motion but certainly clunky goodness.

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Speaking of stop motion, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On is fantastic, not sure if you have seen it: https://youtu.be/k98Afd7Nf3Y?feature=shared

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Haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard good things. I’ll have to check it out

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You are entirely correct! I'd much rather watch pre CGI sci fi. The models are incredible. I still believe I'm in space.

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I think the entire film industry could learn a bit from the more recent Star Wars. They went back to modeling and use a bit of CGI. i think the blend is pretty wonderful, but in todays age id argue that its 100% possible to do everything modeled and still put out an amazing product.

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You are correct.

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I’m a true believer. I don’t care how they do it, I am in space (so long as the story is good).

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Agreed. Although there has been a bit of a dearth of good new sci fi. Oh for the glory days of Babylon 5, TNG, DS9, voyager and battlestar galactica.

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I’m not alone!! TY TY! Bab 5, somewhere I was gifted with the 5th season on CD. No idea where it came from but what fun to see it again.

My kids gave me a Jean Luc (Hallmark) standing in a portal, xmas tree ornament. The next year the g’kids gifted me the Enterprise complete with flashing lights. I think they all went this route bc it was easier (and cheaper) than actually shopping for me. So the Chanukah bush gets decked out each year. I really liked Picard, it felt true, even when it didn’t.

GoT was excellent fantasy but given a choice I’d pick BSG every time.

There is nothing particularly great on tap right now. Foundation is ok. Invasion is ok. If anything gets more than one season it’s surprising. There was one...Sissy Spacek and ??, one season. Just as it was getting interesting it was canned.

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Yes! The Night Sky with Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons. It was wonderful!!! I felt crestfallen when I realised it was a one-and-canned series. My husband still has his Gul Dukat toby jug mug and a Klingon Bird of Prey model (only about 5 cm long so super cute) that I gave him back in the 1990s on his shelf in his home office. GOT was good until the last season. It should have ended with the Khaleesi taking over, instead the woman was punished for being the victor and the insipid Bran took over (gag, vomit). The most regressive ending and pretty much universally hated, but that's what happens when you oust the writer of the books and try to hurry a story that took the author decades to write and develop.

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I must say, I did really like Picard. The producer was a long time Trek fan and it really showed.

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As with all tools, it's how it's used. While I get that your point is about Pixar and its lesser peers, I do love how CGI helps Studio Ghibli better animate complex movements like (2D) waves and wind in grass. I love how photorealistic CGI animation can be used in "non-animated" films to "erase" the seams of practical effects and visualize situations that are impossible, unaffordable, or unethical to physically simulate. And sideways to your point, there's lots of great non-computerized 3D animation (stop motion, etc.).

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Do you know the newsletter Animation Obsessive?

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Pixar still do it incredibly though

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I'm with you! I grew up watching Huckleberry Hound and Yogi Bear. 2 or 3 frames per second I'll wager. My 5 year old brain was perfectly well up for supplying the rest!

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The special effects in "Kwaidan" are not very realistic and yet much more affecting than CGI.

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founding

I could give you a thesis of why you’re correct. This forum is a relatively chill exchange of ideas so I won’t. You’re not wrong though.

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Also, childish. It could have had potential if it was used outsider of Pixar and superhero films, but that would be asking too much. Love Death Robots us the only exception coming to mind.

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I agree. CGI looks too sleek and the movements are not convincing

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I would say mine would be that I deeply disagree with the discourse that Elvis Presley appropriated and ripped off Black artists. I think it fundamentally misunderstands music and Elvis' contribution to it as well as his artistry.

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"Appropriation" is a real buzzkill and could be applied to just about anything.

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I think appropriation is a good thing, creatively. It's literally how music/arts/culture evolves and is spread.

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Sep 5, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023

I think some people take the Elvis point too far, like OP mentioned, but some people have a problem with appropriation when Elvis makes far more money and gets a superstar status, while the R&B and blues artists he borrowed from could hardly break through to white audiences (because of the racism at the time). Even though there were artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry, they weren't at Elvis's level. Pat Boone was the one who ripped off Little Richard and Fats Domino and made them palatable to white audiences.

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Ya - I got over that "your a white Boy playing Blues" thing, many many MANY decades ago.

I was doing a gig in our regular home town bar (kind of a rockin' C&W place, playing "Bad Moon Rising" & dancing by, some guy says to me: "I don't want hear any of that Black Jazz Shit" . All I could think of to say was : "Well Thank you very much!"

I felt his insults were compliments due to the way he interpreted my playing. I wasn't trying to play a particular way - it's just what I did.

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JENNIFER MOORE

21 hrs ago

"Modern pop music is crap. It's been that way since the 1990s. They're ARE a few artists who stand out, but they are few and far between."

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I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s all crap and I am older than dirt. I'm listening to The Animals right now and I have to say that they are still amazing. I was listening to Heaven 17 and it was okay except one song sounded like the one before. Kinda like Taylor Swift. But each generation builds on the one before so I expect they’ll go full circle eventually.

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I feel that way when cis actors are criticized for portraying gay characters. It's called "acting". However, race is different for me. I'm not a supporter of minstrelsy. But I believe portraying characters who we assume to be of a certain race with actors of a different race (eg Little Mermaid, Hamilton) is not just acceptable, it can be refreshing.

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As opposed to Rock Hudson as a straight horn-dog.

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well, I'm on my (# deleted on the grounds that it may incriminate me) viewing of Red, White and Royal Blue and I'm sooooo glad they cast it the way they did. <3

And yes, if artists and creators aren't allowed to imagine and write about and inhabit characters different from ourselves, art becomes very poor indeed

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I think that bigotry and prejudice exist but there’s only one race. People created racism because they think how somebody looks or their geographical background determines their character. (Go back in history and you’ll see people writing about the Irish Race or the Italian Race. Ludicrous ideas to us now but deeply held beliefs to some people once. ) Unfortunately most people like to feel they’re better than other people. There are racists but they are people who believe in a lie.

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Agree 100 percent. I always say that (a) as a lifelong jazz geek it would be hilariously hypocritical for me to be against cultural appropriation, and (b) the history of jazz thoroughly illustrates that appropriation can run in all directions.

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Yes! Isn't it shameful how Mozart appropriated Haydn!

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Yes, thank you! I have always maintained that Haydn was the greater composer. He innovated every form that was used by composers who came after him for the next 200 years and even today. Mozart was a wunderkind, for sure, but much of his output was repetitive and sub par. You only have to look at the 4 horn concertos: 1 idea, 4 concertos written in 3 days, and it shows.

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Haydn admitted that the style originated with C. P. E. Bach,and they both owed everything to him.

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Well, true for Haydn, but Mozart was friends with and drew a great deal from Johann Christian Bach, who had a more galante, Italianate sound. Beethoven was influenced more by C.P.E. Bach though. Or at least that is what an early music grad student I worked with at IU told me, and judging by the sounds of them all I agree. (And while I prefer JC Bach to CPE Bach, I prefer Haydn to Mozart, so go figure.)

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Well, to be fair, the horn concertos were all written for Mozart's skittles-playing-cum-drinking-buddy Ignaz Leutgeb, and the scores are full of rude remarks and jokes. Not your serious Mozart of the last 3 symphonies and "Don Giovanni".

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Well put and a large part of what was referred to a s repetitive and sub par in a prior post were written while he was just a Kind, wonder or not. His later works are dome of the greatest pieces in the Classical repertory.

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It is why we are not only at a cultural stand still, but are actually hurtling backwards.

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Every time I pick up an instrument I can be accused of "appropriation." I'm just playing music I love, like Elvis (though I make considerably less).

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I’m getting that in some areas. It’s a tender area.

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I agree. Just because someone is influenced by a sound doesn't mean they're derivative of it or that they ripped anything off. All art builds on what came before, the ethnicity of the art is irrelevent to that. (Now Pat Boone doing sanitized covers of black artists to play for white audiences, that's a whole different subject.)

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Very correct - there was substantive appropriation going on the fifties (Pat Boone one of the more egregious examples) and I think Elvis, being the most successful artist of those who pioneered rock and rock, often gets conflated with that effort and wrongly so, in my opinion.

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yes, in part because he came out of that SAME tradition, so how do you appropriate something that's actually part of your lived experience?

And then he took it and made it into something different, which again is not appropriation. (Of course, Pat Boone did too, but I think intention matters here)

And then the Fabs came along and took what Elvis et al did and made that into something different. Again, evolution, not appropriation. Big big difference.

I like what Billy Joel said when inducted into the Hall of Fame, about how if being influenced by someone who came before you is derivative, than they might as well close down the Hall of Fame (hey, that's an idea) because there's no one eligible to be in it.

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Also, we should mention Hound Dog here. Because that one is so often brought up. Written by two Jewish men from New York City, so just because it was recorded by a black artist does not make it black music.

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The elevator test is the thing you need to practice as an artist: If you create an artwork that is influenced by the work of another and you were to meet them in an elevator, would that artist shake your hand or punch you in the face? In other words, look at what you have made, is it derivative or plagiarised, or have you genuinely built on the foundation to make something new?

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I agree, and well I'm not an Elvis expert, it's my understanding that not only did the black community at the time, not criticize Elvis for what he did, but they embraced him for it and welcomed him into their community. I could be wrong and if I am someone will correct me. But I think the people who were actually there should get first dibs on their interpretation of what was supposedly done to them

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I agree that the discourse around Elvis can get unhinged and whenever “appropriation” gets mention I run for cover. But I think the 2017 documentary The King presented the most nuanced exploration of this topic. Van Jones’ comment in it that Elvis gained more from African-American culture than he returned is spot on. Personally, I’ve always found Elvis more fascinating as a cultural figure who ended up at a complete aesthetic dead-end as he become more and more commercial and separate from the musical tradition he emerged from. Commercial Nashville represents an intriguing parallel. Early country comes from the same cultural racial stew but ended up at a strange place. To me it’s America’s last “race music” - i.e. white music - and relies on the same tropes from its origins and shows none of the constant change elsewhere like in Jazz or Soul or contemporary classical.

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He made r and b acceptable to radio stations that had a racist policy regarding what music they would play. I think calling Elvis a rip off artist is slightly over doing it.

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At least Elvis had some rhythm & an amazing vocal presence!

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Fats Domino and Chubby Checker did the same thing as Pat Boone!

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He had still to pay the writers in order to cover those songs.

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Not in every case. Many of the now-revered black musicians signed away their rights for peanuts early on. At the time, they really needed those peanuts.

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Totally agree with Faith, for example where does it stop, "they are singing, we sing too", art is art, end of story! Or put in other words "That's all right mama"

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I think Pat Boone singing goofy versions is fine. The fact that he's making the music appealing to a broader audience is not a bad thing. Denying where that music came from, however, is wrong, but I don't know that he did that.

Plus Pat Boone was part of this delicious exchange in the comic book adaption of the film "The Cross and the Switchblade":

Guy played by Erik Estrada: "I could cut you, Preach!"

Guy played by Pat Boone: "Yes you could, Nicky. You cut cut my into a million little pieces. And every piece would love you just as much."

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My worst music opinion is that Pat Boone’s heavy metal album is a lot of fun

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How do you feel about "Ethel Merman Does Disco"? I swear it was a thing. We had the LP at my old radio station.

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Haha. Hadn’t heard of it, but I guess I’ll have to check it out

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yay! like all of rhino records' classic "Golden throats" series with, like, Phyliis Diller and even Jack webb trying to sing!

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He wanted to do something like it but couldn't quite cut it ( was not his style) yet he still gave it his all.

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I dig how he dug Little Richard.

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I agree with you in part. But Otis Blackwell wrote three of Elvis’s five biggest hits in the 50s, and he never even got to meet him and had to share credit on one of the songs with him even though Elvis was not a songwriter. Years later, David Letterman asked him why he never asked to meet Elvis, and his response was heartbreaking: “I didn’t want to risk messing up a good thing.” He then performed “Don’t Be Cruel.” I cried.

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To be fair, almost none of those who wrote songs for Elvis met him, a sad reflection of the control exerted by the Colonel and Elvis' often passive acceptance of it

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The entire notion of “cultural appropriation” is bullshit. All culture everywhere is appropriated.

The sin wasn’t Elvis appropriating Black music. The sin was the lack of white consumer support for Black artists.

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But that lack of support was rooted in how Billboard classified music, what music radio stations would play based on their “audience” and the segregated music venues of the time. The structure was to keep black audiences and white audiences separate. Sam Phillips detested that structure - he specifically opened Memphis Recording Studio (which became Sun Studios and briefly Sun Records) to record all kinds of artists, but especially black artists. Sam thought Howlin Wolf was the greatest artist he ever recorded. The lore is that Sam didn’t even like Elvis the first time he hear him.

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Yep. An excellent real world example of structural racism.

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I agree--in many cases. The really egregious stuff you see in old movies can spark outrage (Black actors never cast as anything but maids, valets, etc.) or laughs (Paul Muni and Luise Rainer as Chinese in "The Good Earth", Katharine Hepburn in "Dragon Seed", and so on). On the other hand, Gale Sondergaard did such an astonishing, terrifying job in "The Letter" that she's beyond criticism (to me, as least).

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Agreed. Elvis worked WITH black musicians, he didn't steal from them. Musicians don't care about this stuff. I once watched a documentary about a blind black guy from America who travelled to Tanu Tuva to compete in a Tuvan throat singing competition. He wasn't cast out and chased away by the locals. Instead he was lauded as a honoured guest and the locals were blown away that he was so enamoured of their tradition that he would take the time to learn this complex singing technique. Today, no doubt, there would be a subset who would chase him out of town with pitchforks.

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Actually, to be fair, it's more likely that Americans would follow him there, post his video on social media, and virtually run him out of town with pitchforks. The Tanu Tuvans would probably still love him.

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You're not wrong.

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Genghis Blues!

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Yes! It was a fantastic documentary! I came to Tuvan throat singing via the documentary about Richard Feynman called The Search for Tanu Tuva. Feynman remembered an old encyclopaedia of his grandfather's that had information about a country called Tanu Tuva that seemed to no longer exist as he cannot find it on any map. Through his search he finds that it is a small nation consumed by the former Soviet Union.

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I recently saw grime punk duo Bob Vylan and one of their pre-song rants was very anti-Elvis for this reason. It's become pretty lazy accepted wisdom and stating is nowhere near as ballsy as when Chuck D (who has since softened and publicly admitted to being an Elvis fan) did it 30 years ago. Attacking Elvis for having underage relationships is fairer game.

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...and sanctioned by Priscilla's parents to boot!!!!

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And Jerry Lee and Chuck...

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I argue that cultural appropriation does not exist. All art involves borrowing; so long as those influences are acknowledged and honored, it's healthy.

There is such a thing as being a rip-off, or a cheap mime - white people wearing dreadlocks and playing reggae and speaking in a Jamaican patois would fall into that category. But borrowing as I described above is a different thing, and eminently healthy.

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There's even a decent Mongolian reggae scene. This guy's the biggest name--does the Jamaican patois a bit when he does English, but it's mostly in Mongolian. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8s2G0qBMo88

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The (good faith) objections are not really about the music, though. More about the business side of things.

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There is truth to that, for sure.

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I've always been irritated with appropriation claims, and felt crestfallen to hear those claims among Jazz musicians against each other. If I'm correct, both Miles and Cannonball expressed this type of sentiment.

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As Big Mama Thornton said “ I’m alive to spend my $100.”

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Of course he did. Maybe that wasn’t his intention but it is exactly what happened. Otis Blackwell. Arthur Crudup. He could have told the world about his “influences”but he was to busy being Elvis.

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Here we go. Just one: Recordings are not music.

Don't get me wrong. I love recordings and use them all the time in my own music, to learn licks, to study the music, for delight, none of which are things I'd want to give up for a second. Listen to them every day, without the slightest conflict or regret.

Still -- recordings are not music. They are something else, valid in their own right, but still not music as it was understood for millennia. And we still haven't figured out how to talk about them in a clear way, because most people, even sophisticated critics, treat recordings and music as more or less the same phenomenon, or as if one merely represents the other without changing it. But just as we understand that writing is not merely a transcription of speech (pace Plato and Rousseau), or that a movie is not just a recording of a play, or that a photograph of a horse is not a horse, a musical recording, even an analogue recording, is not even remotely similar to live music (now there's an interesting neologism of the recording age: "live music," a phrase that would have been a puzzling redundancy just a few generations back).

There are endless ramifications to this idea -- yet I've never seen them worked out in an essay, let alone a serious conversation. What are the relations between music -- which for all of human history until little more than a century ago, meant only a real-time performance at which one had to be physically present -- and recordings, which turn musicians into portable ghosts, or might not even any longer represent music that anyone actually played? What, actually, is a recording of music?

Now that everyone has left the dinner table, I will continue to think about this....

BTW, Ted, I am a tremendous admirer of your writing, and a good friend of Dana.....;)

You can reach me at rothmandavidj@msn.com.

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I completely and enthusiastically agree with this. Recording technology released forces into the air that we rarely contemplate. There is an anecdote I once read of a concert violinist hearing his recorded performance for the first time as the technology just emerged and being stunned at what he considered his poor playing. He then got trapped in a loop of recording his playing, listening back to it, and then doing all he could to perfect it. Being a virtuoso before recorded technology and then after mean different things now. One’s supposed errors are subject to all kinds of intense scrutiny.

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Great points. That's exactly the kind of conversation we should be having about all of this...it's not merely good vs. bad, but rather what has happened and what is its significance?

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I think a consequence is that it has created an incredible self-consciousness that at times is damaging to artist’s careers. According to one of Liszt’s pupils, early on in Anton Rubinstein’s concert career (before recording of any kind) he made all kinds of errors while playing because of how wild he got. He’s now held as a model for emulation for emerging musicians who dissect videos of him. General professional playing standards are at an all time high now but does this discourage experimentation or just being ok with errors once and a while.

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Great points. Powerful questions. How does the culture of recording affect education and performance? These are exactly the kinds of questions we should be asking. For example...would it be wise -- would it make sense -- for a teacher to say to pupils "I want you to do everything you can NOT to listen to recordings for a month..." What would happen...?

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Correction. Wrong AR. l meant Arthur Rubinstein, the pianist. But the point is the same. To me it’s the question of what happens when we get conditioned to treat others and ourselves through mediation. We are both more critical of others and ourselves. Imagine if Charlie Parker’s first disastrous cutting season had been recorded. Rather than go home and practice, practice, practice to reappear as “The Bird”, what if the video was floating online on social media with a million hate comments. Would the psychologically damage be so intense he just quit forever? I worry about this because to be a young artist now economically requires you to be online. We may lose the future Charlie Parkers to hate comments

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Anybody remember the science fiction short story about a musicologist traveling back in time to meet the greatest jazz soloist of all time just before the last concert of his life (after which the musician kills himself)? I just now googled the idea but came up empty...

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Right -- so perhaps one impact of ubiquitous recording technology is that it encourages technical virtuosity at the expense of spirit...?

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Sep 5, 2023·edited Sep 5, 2023

100% agree with this.

A recording isn't music, it's a memory or souvenir of an event, just like a photograph.

Also, due to the nature and process of record preproduction and mic placement, recording, editing, mixing, and mastering, recordings are not inherently different than a Photoshopped picture, and this is especially true when recordings are re-broadcast through radio and streaming, which subjects them to even more post-production compression and audio editing.

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Interesting idea.... but i think it only exists now because its relatively fresh. Are novels not stories then....? Because before we wrote shit down, we told stories, orally.

And that existed for onger than us writing them down has (i suspect, but i haven’t done any research, so i’m happy to be wrong and corrected)

At it’s core, isn’t recorded music very similar to the idea of all the bach, mozart etc... they had ideas, they recorded them in the only way possible at the time, through notation. Which then allowed those musical ideas to be reproduced. It actually existed without being played - we’ve just improved the method of notation.

But i totally get your point. I’d never considered it that way. I just don’t care about the distinction so much - i’m too busy enjoying Doris Duke to be thinking about. Thanks!

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Novels (well, most novels...) are of course stories, but writing and then print sure did change things. And yes, musical notation definitely changed things and drove all sorts of enormous change (if you're curious, Theodore Adorno had polemical but thoughtful things to say about all this...). But sound-recording seems different from notation...a huge earthquake we haven't yet really measured. For example, it seems that everywhere we now go we are bombarded with recorded music we did not choose to listen to, with all sorts of effects....restaurants, waiting rooms, grocery stores, recently even gas stations...what does all of that mean, or do to us? in the history of humans it's all incredibly recent....again, not necessarily "bad" -- whatever that might mean...but certainly significant in all sorts of ways....

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Music as a commodity vs music of the spheres. If it were not for recorded music we would not have the privilege of hearing artists that perform live rarely in the USA and elsewhere for that matter.

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Well, it sells groceries...

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Yeah, i’m with you. I guess music to me is just organised (ie, directed by human) sound waves, put together in a defined and loosely repeatable way, to express something about what it’s like to be human and alive. Or to make one shake one’s rump. Whether that’s fluctuating current, magnet and some material or wood and air, the air moves and we perceive it as music. As to the elevator music thing... why do you think there’s so many psychos running shit. To much canned music!!

:)

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Bring on the vitality....;)

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I think something that’s lost when methods of documentation emerged, whether it’s print or recording or film, is that it eliminated an aspect of art predicated on open form and continuous re-creation. People learned it, changed it, added to it. The Iliad stopped being a living breathing song sung generation after generation after it became recorded. It’s now gospel. Philosophers as different as Plato and Wittgenstein worried about the danger of a permanent record in constraining the free flow of ideas in real time.

Something I pointed out in my earlier comments was no documentation allows people to be freer too. For example, in my excitement to respond to this post I conflated two very different Rubinstein’s to make a point about performance practice. I realized that and then became embarrassed about such an obvious mistake, a mistake compounded by the fact that it’s written down for all to see lol.

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What about podcasts? I’ve been doing a family podcast over the summer & most of the subjects are of things related to my feelings about just about everything!

It’s a form of “permanent” record of my opinions & thoughts that can & will be shared by my kids to their kids.

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I’m not anti-technology or new forms of media. I think it’s lovely that you’re doing a podcast with your family and that it’s embedded in meaning interaction with those closest to you. It’s technology being used for its best. I have had meaningful conversations with people across the world because of this new technology. Sent video and audio to people across the planet. That is staggering. And because I respect its potential for both meaningful interaction and transformation, I reflect all the time about what it’s doing to me and how to go about it. The one thing I’m certain of after thinking hard about it is that technology ripples in our society and our lives in ways we can never imagine. I recently found a photo from my 20s that hit me like a bullet. It’s me and the wild, bunch of friends who ran like ribald romantic dogs waging a war against sleep. We were young and beautiful and obsessed with art and life and drink and drugs and new experiences. And what struck me was that the photo only captured a moment of that time. The rest is just memories and stories. And considering how proudly disgraceful we all were maybe that’s for the best.

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Thanks for pointing out the importance of live music. The reason it has more of an impact than a recording is due, of course, to the vibrations being absorbed into the body of the listener. But most people think that's too woo-woo and they discount it. Yet there's absolutely no other explanation for the immense power a live performance can have.

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Another great point. Agreed. No recording can actually reproduce what it's like to be in the room as the music is made -- it's just a cunning simulacrum, even if the vibrations seem the same. I'd go even further, however -- to sit in Boston's Symphony Hall, or the Village Vanguard is to be in a specific PLACE, which is part of what all music IS. Again, this is NOT to diss recordings per se, but just to point out how much these differences matter. To actually be present in real time in one of these famous venues is to sense and feel all sorts of things, from the decor to the history to the acoustics to the crowd and of course the music going on in that moment that cannot every be completely conveyed, because so much of it is spontaneous and even aleatory. It is what is happening right there, right then.

All of which puts me in mind of this great poem by Frank O'Hara, "The Day Lady Died," which doesn't try to record an experience so much as evoke exactly what we're talking about....

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42657/the-day-lady-died

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Live music is like a job interview, you get one chance to get it right. How many takes of "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" did the Beatles record before they had an acceptable

finished version for the album

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Totally agree. And I love "A Day in the Life" and "Strawberry Fields" and so on -- love them -- but how could they ever even be "performed"? So -- what are they...?

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I think it could be done. Rush's live performances were, according to them, an attempt to recreate their recorded music as closely as possible. They have a host of recorded concerts, that, in my opinion, managed to do that. With only three guys. Go figure.

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Agree to an extent. Rush wrote and recorded mostly within the limits of what they could do live. But bands like Queen took recording and overdubs to the nth degree, and of course, could never translate that directly to live without playing along with a recording (Bohemian Rhapsody, for example). I believe the Who did that as well for tracks like Baba O'Riley. Sync tracks have been around for a while.

Personally, I prefer when you hear a more live sounding album that can be pulled off live. Ironically, my own music is the complete opposite (I'd need to hire a lot of musicians to translate what I do via recording into live). I guess I kind of see them as different art forms.

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Recommend you read The Recording Angel - despite an in-borne elitism, the author makes some good points about the difference between a record and a performance. That said, I’ll quote Iggy Pop, who said, “Speakers mover air and they move me, too.” While he was referring to playing live, when I play a recording in my living room, I can have a very musical experience!

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This is a juicy thought that's got me thinking...so sorry for another response...

If you're in the woods and you hear some great drumming in the distance, you wouldn't know if it's music until you trace it down to the source. Imagine you do and you find a great drummer performing at the base of a cliff with some killer acoustics. So you conclude that it's music. But then you notice the drummer is playing an electronic drum kit, which ties each strike to a very sophisticated sample engine. So now it's maybe not music (drummer is really just playing a bunch of recordings)....

Fun to think about. Is the music in the performance? Or is it in the hearing?

Thanks for the headscratcher!

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Recipe vs Cooking vs finished dish. As to music what is the relationship between the score and the performance? Is each performance a new piece? I think that this takes some of the force out of David's argument that recording is not music.

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Ha! Great question. There are of course hybrids -- I guess here I'd land on the side of music, as what is being made is unrepeatable in and of itself and involves real-time interactions in the presence of living people...but certainly a kind of hybrid in its creation.

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Really good to think about. How do you factor written notation into the mix as a sort of in-between step?

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Notation presents an interesting problem. Most people reading it can't exactly "hear" it, so it's a form of inscription, not recording, unless you're a mad genius. But nobody confuses reading a score with listening to music--so it's certainly part of a global perspective on the issue, but not the same....though it is worth pointing out that notations changes musical traditions substantially in all sorts of ways....

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Not a problem. Tools are never problems unless inappropriately used.

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Top comment here

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cf. Ted Chiang’s “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Fiction”

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I don't agree, but I really loved reading this. It made me smile and loved the thought process, the question and we both share love for music (in general). It does seem like recordings are judged by different standards than live performances, but if we're talking about musical moments that feel alive... I would definitely still categorize recordings as music. I was at the Village Vanguard in July enjoying Aaron Parks quartet and it sounded like a record. It was that clean and tight but it wasn't rigid. There are SO many recordings feel like live moments, and what about live recordings? Even if I didn't experience them in 4D, they still have those energetic musical moments that really breathe. Especially those Vanguard recordings where you can hear the crowd, clinks of the glass, and breathe of the performer. Even if it isn't a "live" recording... albums and recordings are certainly an art unto them, and there are degrees to which they are live, always, depending on the artist and perhaps the genre... but what we're really looking for is that life right? And just like sometimes a photograph captures a moment and breathes life into it more than its subjects/participants may have even realized... I think recordings can absolutely be the same way.

I love this Neil Swainson/Don Thompson track "Tranquil" below. Always transports me into another place. Not sure it'd matter if I was sitting in front of them or not.

https://open.spotify.com/track/07PsEVrfbzqt7RDGnR0X7l?si=fae36ad4a5c34cb6

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Recordings once were not music. But they are now.

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Could recordings be used as a part of a "musical instrument" so that performing with recordings is music? I'm thinking anything from John Cage's Radio Music to modern DJ's blending four or more recording together.

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Good question. That's been done in all sorts of ways, from concrete music to scratching to sampling to duets with the dead (think of Natalie Cole singing "Unforgettable" with the recording of Nat). There are all sorts of hybrids out there, and some are wonderful (others awful). And no doubt there's an entire literature I haven't bothered to dig deep enough to find that addresses all of this. But it seems to me like a question we don't talk about enough....for example, what does it mean to "record" an improvisation? I remember becoming fascinated with this when some new Monk / Trane recordings surfaced recently, in which there were versions of tunes with new tempi, grooves and of course notes that were quite different from recordings that had become the "classic" versions of the tunes -- but were in fact just moments on a spectrum of performances, many of which were never recorded. What does that do to our understanding of the tunes, of the history, of the artists...? Seems to me there are endless questions like this....

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How true - keep on with the enlightenment!

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Modern pop music is crap. It's been that way since the 1990s. They're ARE a few artists who stand out, but they are few and far between.

I also believe that you can (and should, when necessary) separate the artist from their work. The fact that someone is an awful person doesn't always affect the quality of their work.

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Hm. I feel like for people of my own age bracket (I just turned 58 today), saying that modern pop is NOT crap is a hotter take. My experience is that there are TONS of artists who make great music, it's just that very very few of them are part of the hype machine that puts music in front of people's eyes and ears since the disintegration of radio in the 90's.

"Popular" is a really weird term in music nowadays, when someone can have 100K views on YouTube (or 100K plays on Spotify, etc) and never be acknowledged by any mainstream source. If I'd released a single that sold 100,000 copies in 1989, I would've been feeling pretty incredible about it.

Plus, there's just so much music out there, between Soundcloud and Bandcamp etc. How could you possibly know it's all crap? Or do you just mean the most popular music is crap? And hasn't that kinda always been the case? Take a look at the list of the top 20 songs of any given year and you quickly realize that, aside from some big exceptions (Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson...), the far more interesting stuff wasn't the most popular.

We are lucky enough to live in a time where you can find that out for yourself without going to a record store and spending hundreds of dollars on stuff you've never heard. For a few bucks a month, you can subscribe to a service that provides you with TENS OF MILLIONS of songs. That's a miracle I think about pretty much every day.

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Yeah, most of the best music goes unheard by the multitudes. And a lot of the stuff that does sell big has always been mostly terrible.

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Rock on! Anyone who says a version of "They don't make music like they used to," well, fuckin' duh! The whole point of evolution/progression is change! Art builds on the past and makes NEW! Live in your Simon and Garfunkel bubble and miss out on all kinds of incredible sound. NO, it's not the same. And that's the Fucking point!

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"Art builds on the past and makes NEW!"

Except popular music today is OBJECTIVELY much more dumbed down. Take away the production and many popular songs are just nursery rhyme melodies and grade 1 chord structures. Same goes for the lyrics and themes.

Old school pop such as, say, Tears for Fears are Mozart by comparison.

It's not just a generational thing. Its objectively worse.

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I find people who say they think new music isn't good, and that they basically listen to their fav 3 bands from when they were 25-30 typically suffer from a general lack of curiosity and imagination.

I would definitely say your take is the hotter take based on a pretty decent sample size 😂

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I have very eclectic tastes. I listen to all kinds of stuff, ranging from the 1960s to today. Mostly alternative, where there is some overlap with pop.

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Okay, I'm 56 and it's my 20 year old that keeps me informed about what's new. Well, him and Rick Beato's top 10 Spotify songs. I'm known as the guy who doesn't listen to any music conceived after 1990. I'm open to listening but you have to work hard to hold my attention. Jazz, Prog, New Wave, Classical all the way. Oh and CCR.

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I am also 56 years old & I think you need to get your head out when it comes to modern music! You are seriously limiting yourself too much, there are some amazing artists that have come out in the last 5-10 years!

Joy Oladokun, Ray LaMontagne, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Trombone Shorty, Fitz & the Tantrums, Kacey Musgraves, Alan Stone, & Chris Stapleton are just a few great recent artists! I could name a couple dozen other musicians that are producing incredible work that I would have never heard of if I had limited myself!

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Same, except the only jazz I like is up to the 1960s.

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Have you listened to Kamasi Washington?

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I've never heard of them, but I'll look them up!

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happy birthday Paul!!

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I'm 53, but I'm younger, mentally. LOL!

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Yes, awful people create good art, and I don't judge others for not separating the artist for the art, but sometimes I can't, and that's ok also. My controversial take is I didn't see the last Tom Cruise movie because I've read too much about Scientology and can't separate the actor from the role.

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Harsh but fair.

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After listening to pop avidly since 1963, I fell out of love in the 1990s, looking back to older music. It is only in the last year, going through Ted's annual recommendations lists at tedgioia.com that I have rediscovered the hidden world of music outside the charts. Todays great music is largely self released in digital. We need curators like Ted. Interestingly, this has made my YouTube recommendations come alive.

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Very cool! I've discovered a lot of music through both YouTube and Pandora.

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Agree on the latter point; and think a lot of people think the same way, but are afraid to say it out loud.

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Not reflected in his box office power. Besides, LOTS of people say it out loud, ad nausea. The only person who doesn't talk about Cruise and Scientology is Cruise.

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song construction isn't, drums are ridiculous, melody / harmony... huh what is that... i concur, so rare is a pop tune really well built, it does seem better in Asia, are there regional elements at play here.. ?

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Good question.

I'll admit that I was already biased. I've been listening to metal and alternative since the 1980s, but I'm generally open minded about music.

It just felt like, after the 1980s, a lot of pop musicians just started phoning it in.

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"I'm generally open minded about music."

"after the 1980s, a lot of pop musicians just started phoning it in."

Heh

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I would argue that it is possible to have an open mind and an opinion at the same time.

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I would argue that Notes should make it possible to see a reply to one's comment in the context of that comment, so that I'd have a hope of remembering what I said that you've replied to....

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(And come to think of it, there's not much good heavy metal being made nowadays, either!)

This is not a particularly hot take. Just a small vent.

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I need more specifics about the 1990s

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U2 has never been an above-average band, neither musically nor lyrically.

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They'd probably agree with you, making the situation even more annoying.

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Songs should only be allowed to be used in a film soundtrack once.

Each song only gets one movie. There needs to be a registry or something.

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founding

So you don’t want “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” sung into a hairbrush again forever?

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Sep 4, 2023·edited Sep 4, 2023

There are only three "pop" songwriters whose melodies are strong-enough to be presented instrumentally: Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney (who wrote the best the Beatles tunes) and Allen Toussaint - check-out his own recordings of "Brickyard Blues" - if you don't know any of his "pop"music.

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Burt Bacharach. Jimmy Webb. Laura Nyro....

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Carole King ....James Taylor.....Billy Joel.....

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Won’t deny them - some great melodies there, but less scope - arguably.

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Bacharach? Indisputably the greatest pop music composer of the second half of the 20th century.

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Bacharach. Great. Yes. More out of the Mancini Hollywood/Broadway stream than the independent songwriting stream.

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I don't remember the exact details, but I've seen a day-by-day analysis of the Beatles' schedule (live shows, interviews, TV appearances, movie making etc) and it proves they literally had no time to write some of their albums.

Also it has been noted that their lyrical themes and compositional styles were far too mature for your average early 20's live band who started out playing simple "yeah, yeah, yeah!" three chord pop songs.

Putting all the evidence together (and there is an awful lot of it) a strong case forms that the Beatles were a manufactured band, with a team of established (and fairly old school) composers writing most of their material. This is why so many of their (later) songs sound like musicals or big band numbers.

They all but admit this if you listen to their interviews (and 'hot mic' remarks caught during recording sessions), often referring to 'writers' rather than themselves.

Also it's hardly a secret that Ringo's drums (in the studio) were played / overdubbed by session musicians.

There are also several examples caught on film of the other Beatles accidentally referring to Paul as 'Billy' (William Shepherd AKA 'Billy Shears'), but that's a whole other can of worms....

So anyway, the Beatles were probably a manufactured boy band (not unlike The Monkeys), only with a rather sophisticated and enigmatic writing team behind them... as well as innovative studio production (again not by them).

There is at least one album that they blatantly could not have written because of a lack of time. And if you look at the official schedule of rehearsals/ recording sessions it makes no sense logistically either. There was not enough time between the last official recording session and the official release. No time for mastering, pressing, artwork printing or physical distribution. Releasing vinyl at the time was not something that could be achieved in a week (unlike the digital releases of today).

This means the album must have been prepared well in advance of the time they were officially still recording it.

Whatever the Beatles were, they were a lot more than just four lads from Liverpool.

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This is fun to think about :)

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The guys from Yello (“Oh Yeah”) would disagree. LOL - we even made a video skit about it at a club I worked at.

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The music of ABBA and the Bee Gees will (justifiably!) live longer than that of Captain Beefheart, King Crimson, or Brian Eno.

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no way, Crimson rocks.. ;)

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Crimson will never die. ABBA and Bee Gees probably not, too.

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well, yeah, I mean, ABBA. <3

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You're comparing apples and oranges. Both ABBA and the Bee Gees were incredible exponents of the pure pop genre. The songs and arrangements meticulously crafted. Take a serious listen to their music, preferably not on the radio of your 1970s Holden Commodore :)). You'll discover that there is a lot of craft to those eminently hummable ditties. King Crimson, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp - the soundtrack of my youth.

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You’re probably right but I like Brian Eno anyway.

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I have listened to Brian Eno EVERY day (night actually) for over 15 years, Music for Airports is a powerful soundscape tool for falling asleep. An Elvis impersonator is an example of ripping off an artist. Elvis wasn't a songwriter, he interpreted other songwriters creations, but was he ripping off the creator? What other singer has a trademark snarl? Elvis also had a stage charisma that was legendary. Elvis, Babe Ruth

and Adolph Hitler may have been aliens, their powers were otherwordly

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That's not even a hot take is it? It's just obvious to anyone with any kind of toe that has ever been tapped.

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I dunno, the music of Brian Eno includes Talking Heads, U2, etc. (And not just in some abstract way; you can hear his voice on the records.)

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Also Eno's industrial music (e.g. Microsoft's boot music) may live on a long time.

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Bowie's Berlin Trilogy as well.

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Spicy but yea they’ll probably live longer

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Ouch. But probably accurate.

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I'm sooooo tired of women acting like men in modern stories in name of "empowerment" or whatever. All women now have to be "in charge" and brilliant and strong, which leaves no room for romance or chivalry or any kind of decent love story.

Okay, I'm off to watch Red White & Royal Blue again -- the only movie I've seen in years that gets it right.

Also Phil Spector's vaunted Wall of Sound is just bad production with a fancy label.

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Amen sister!!

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I was sooo disappointed by that movie. It lacks so much depth and complexity in comparison with the book. Also, I’m curious in what regards did you think they ‘got it right’ in that movie?

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I don't want depth and complexity (although I found there to be just enough of it in the movie, haven't read the book and hadn't even heard of the story until the movie was released). I wanted two beautiful hot boys in love and lust, and they delivered. (I read fanfic, I should add, and am at work on a fairly substantive John/Paul full length novel, so it's adjacent, of course)

They got it right by not trying to be all political and socially conscious at the expense of the love story. They just told the story and let it be what it was. The speech Alex gives at the end was clunky and too heavy-handed, but I figured they earned a few seconds of that before going back to the story.

The way you change people's mind on an issue like that isn't by lecturing (like Boys did, for example), but just by showing that two people in love looks like any two people in love, regardless of the chromosomes involved. And then get out of the way and let the story happen without moralizing.

I read the first chapter of the book online and wasn't super impressed with the craft, but I did order it to do a comparison. I'm not looking forwrard to the additional plotlines, political stuff, honestly, that's not what I fell in love with in the movie, but we shall see! I'm certanily down for as much Alex/Henry as there is available.

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Thank you for your detailed answer! Movies or books being political and or conscious are (un)fortunately very on brand for the current zeitgeist. Based on your comment, you will probably not like the book then.

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Here's what I wrote about it last week on my personal substack (not my main Beatles one):

“Red, White & Royal Blue” is 🔥 and sweet and tender and funny. It’s not a work of staggering genius, and that’s why it actually is a work of staggering genius. It’s not setting out to do anything but be 🔥 and sexy and sweet and tender and funny (and btw, those things are not easy to do). It’s not setting out to be Important or Relevant or World-Changing. It’s just a beautiful story about two beautiful boys in love and that’s why it succeeds at doing what no other movie in the history of movies has managed to do -- which is to show us that love is love in any combination and falling in love looks pretty much the same regardless of the chromosomes of the people involved.

What I’m saying here is that the only way to truly make a movie about same sex love that’s actually going to make a difference is to make a movie about same sex love that doesn’t try so fucking hard to make a difference that it strips all the 🔥 and sexy and sweet and tender and funny parts out of it. I suspect the world would be a better place if artists of all kinds stopped trying so hard to make the world a better place and devoted their time to making the art that makes their souls sing.

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Yeah, nobody likes contemporary real world politics interfere with their pornography. And I suppose lots of people have a need that pornography fills. And we all know it's not the graphic content that primarily determines whether a piece of media satisfies the pornographic purpose, because then we'd be excluding almost before the 20th Century that clearly is for that purpose.

But you know... GLBT folks are always going to complain of exploitation when straight pornography exploits them by sacrificing whatever serious social intelligence gets in the way of pleasure fantasies, just like a lot of women complain about how they're depicted in pornography for men.

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I think the music of Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Lou Reed and Velvet Underground is overrated.

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That’s too many takes to engage with lol. Can you pick one?

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OK. Let's pick the first: would you buy a Bob Dylan album with only instrumental versions of his songs?

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Yes. Check out some of Bill Frisell's arrangements of Bob Dylan's tunes, like "Just Like a Woman" or "Masters of War". Also, I've heard Chet Atkins' style of arranging for songs like "Don't Think Twice". But to your point, "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" probably shouldn't be made into an instrumental.

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I'd absolutely listen to Rainy Day Women as an instrumental. Sometimes you want that sloppy feel. Reminds me of walking down Bourbon Street. Not that the street brass bands there aren't tight. I can't remember

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Yes, I would indeed buy an album of only instrumental versions of BD’s songs. The great guitarist Bill Frisell has a nice version of “Just Like a Woman,” and if you search on Spotify (sorry) you can find playlists of jazz/instrumental covers of the BD songbook. It’s not so surprising: good musicians can do all sorts of interesting things with seemingly little source material.

In any case, I think the question is not only one of taste or relative merit. It’s also whether one is willing to go along with the artists on their own terms. For the iconic artists you list, there’s an added challenge of their fan base. My standard example is that I am lukewarm on Queen but I like them less for their fans’ insistence that they are anything more than third-rate (albeit high third-rate).

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Well put. By the way, I'm not the greatest fan of Queen's music either.

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OK THIS is where you lose me! LMBOOO I agree with all the others above though!

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I love a lot of Queen's songs but I prefer other bands.

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Interesting question. I wonder how many rock acts would make it over that bar. But I think so. I actually quite like a lot of Dylan’s bands. I was listening to some of the mid-seventies Rolling Thunder Revue, and that band was hot.

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Much like Leonard Cohen, Dylan's genius is as a lyricist, not a composer, so it's unfair to judge his music solely on melody.

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