Saturday, June 30, 2012

On Music #1: Meaning

Occasionally I'm asked about my philosophy concerning music.  Typically, I would write such things at my other blog, but it seems more appropriate to place it here.  The first section concerns meaning.

Unlike most things in life, music probably means something different to almost everyone.  Albeit in many different forms, music has been around for thousands of years and will likely last until the extinction of the human race.  At its most basic, music is repetitive patterns of noise that result in something different than the sum of its parts.  As music develops so does its meaning.  A combination of the intent, talent, social status, skill etc. of the player, and the psychology, culture, personality, taste etc. of the listener defines the meaning.  In addition, the location, environment, setting etc. plays a role.  The meaning of music is thus a product of complex interactions.  It is therefore meaningless to speak of meaning in any absolute sense.  Only you can say for certain what it means to you.  Therefore, if you finds music boring or crap, then that is what it means to you.  An entire culture (or sub-culture) may embrace a particular form, but that still says nothing about individual meaning.  It means what it means to you.  Nothing more need be said.

As far as what music means to me, which is all anyone can truly address, there are really two aspects to that question concerning what I listen to and what I play.  As far as what I listen to, the contents of this blog are a reflection of those tastes, but certainly not all encompassing.  Hard core punk and related music genres are my music of choice, because they are an expression of the world as I generally view it.  The energy is appealing.  I also appreciate its anti-social demeanor, which is evidenced by the observation that most people hate it, and that makes it good (or a candidate anyway).  In many cases, the musicians are playing what they want to play regardless of what anyone else says or is willing to pay for.  I consider that respectable (even if some of the actual musicians are people I would just as soon see dead).  No one is all bad.  It also appeals, because these are styles that I have the ability to play (at least in theory).  This is all despite some musicians ideology. I figure having an ideology is their problem.

As far as my own music is concerned, I often like to say that my music speaks for itself.  Of course, this is not really true since it does not exist in a vacuum.  In part, despite the fact that some very talented musicians are willing to play with me*, it is what it is because I have no interest in making any money from my art.  I have other means of making a living as an (un-)civil engineer.  (Besides, I can't see myself liking touring etc.)  This means I am free to amuse myself and express my fundamental anti-social nature (which is certainly suppressed at my job except when I am handed the opportunity to confront a contractor or consultant on their shoddy work).  It is an outlet.  It also gives me something to do.  As such, I am not put off if someone doesn't like it.**  I am not doing it for someone else.

* In Seattle, it also helps not being a junkie.
** I will happily admit that I am very amused at being able to torture both my parents and children with my musical tastes.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Songs for Snakes

Listen to Songs for Snakes. Sounds like Husker Du, which is not surprising since in the words of the band:
Songs For Snakes was formed in 2005 with the vision of blending the energy and power of punk/indie rock with a touch of melancholy. Imagine Husker Du and Jawbreaker having a pleasant cup of green tea with Simon and Garfunkel. I was raised on the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel which gave me a love of melody but I also really love the power of loud classic rock bands and the DIY ethic of punk/indie rock. Our recently released third album entitled "Charcoal Heather" encompasses these diverse influences while delivering a tight and focused group of songs.