I went to hear the New York Philharmonic last week with Tatiana because our family friend was singing. They did three pieces by Stravinsky. It felt classy as shit stepping out of the train with my lady, dressed up and going to hear some art. The music was something else! The sounds of the orchestra shook my soul, and I found myself wondering, “How many sounds can I hear at once?” Or “How many ideas can operate in music simultaneously before the air crowds and ideas are lost and only confuse each other?” (The art of counterpoint is concerned with this problem in a very pointed and refined way. When you hear Bach it’s full of these strains of melody happening at the same time, check out 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould). Every time I try to figure out the answer for myself I just end up enjoying the music and forgetting the challenge I posed myself a moment before. But if I had to find an answer, I would say 4. 4 parts, please. No more, sometimes less. At some point you are making up things that just don’t coexist in the ether, therefore overloading the listeners mind.

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Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti was straight up out of control with his recipe for music. Hopefully you’ve heard his work. If not, when you listen here the 2 guitars and bass together, and how the drums play melodic lines with them. This forms a sub group in my mind, when I listen to it, then the horns enter with their own section, often in two parts. So then you have 4 groups: 2 horns, 1 drum, 1 string (2 guitar and bass as a unit). This later will happen in his pieces with the keyboards entering the arena, and of course the lead vocals paired with the backgrounds.

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Much has been said about the sound of tape vs. digital recording, and most folks have decent arguments as to which method is better, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to walk backward through history. While I sit around writing about missing my 8 track, and how I cant seem to finish a song on Logic cause my mind is flooded with possibilities and I get soooo distracted by the computer; while I piddle through sound options till I forget what my idea was in the first place and water is dripping everywhere cause I ran outta the shower and rushed to turn the computer on and the email button lights up and tells me “Hello please read this” and “Hello you must read me,” while I have 20 reasons I can’t do this, someone else has traversed this path. Someone else has found a series of points to tie a string from post to post and link together a work of art in sound. Telepathe, Tortoise, TV on the Radio, hundreds of thousands of artists have figured out how to make real sound art on their computers.

My problem is the computer does whatever I want. Like this blog, writing whatever I want can seem impossible. I need a sparring partner, an audience, or at least a topic. So I started getting my friends to come over. That works great! My ineptitude with the machine has brought friends over by the half dozen. We eat, talk, and make music together on the computer. I guess that’s where I wanted to be all along, with some good friends making some little jams.

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