Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Bad Mood Rising

I am constantly amazed at the astonishing lack of imagination displayed by musicians, particularly those of a so-called avant-garde or underground stripe. I'm listening to the latest White Rainbow lp at the moment, and although it's a perfectly pleasant listening experience, it also sounds like it could have been recorded at any point in the last 30-odd years, and I sure as shit don't mean it sounds timeless. It just sounds like Fripp & Eno circa Evening Star with a drum machine and a hippy warbling over the top. It adds nothing to the canon of psychedelia/minimalism/drone/whatever that we haven't heard a thousand times before, it's just playing lego with the building blocks of other people's music and that bugs me to fuck. (I'm not singling out White Rainbow for a slagging here, it's just what was on and made me think of this).

Even just restricting yrself to the notes of the western scale and the range of human hearing gives you a combination of (132!-1)* note combinations for any single music event within a piece, without even taking into consideration variations in timbre/harmonic spectra, intonation, slurs, bends, and all the microtones between the notes of the (out of tune**) western scale. So given that the number of note combinations possible is in excess of the number of atoms in the entire fucking universe, and you never hear writers complain that there's only 26 letters in the roman alphabet***, could someone please explain to me why the majority of musicians are seemingly incapable of making a fucking sound that someone else hasn't made before.

*(132!)-1=[(132 x 131 x 130 x 129... x 3 x 2 x 1)-1] is a fucking enormous number. 10!=10 x 9...x 2 x 1=3628800, 20!=2432902008176640000 (or thereabouts). You get the idea. Anyone who says 'there's only 12 notes' is a lazy cunt.

**don't fucking get me started on the western (equal-tempered) scale, even the so-called perfect fifth is slightly flat. I'm next in line to give Pythagoras a slap after Tony Conrad.

***especially taking into consideration that the 26 letters cannot just be put together in arbitrary combinations and convey meaning, unlike musical notes.