What, then, does one do about claims upon the accent? If accents belong to people, then not only does the insidious idea of essentialism linger, it also makes illegitimate the global millions whose faces don’t “match” the way they speak. On the other hand, if everyone from Amy Winehouse to Ed Sheeran to Led Zeppelin can pick up an accent for which they have no essential need, then the long and storied tradition of, say, white artists profiting off black music—with no “trickle down” effects—continues unabated and unquestioned.
I’d guess Iggy Azalea started off like any normal person: alone and young in Miami, mimicking her favourite rappers in front of the mirror, immersing herself in the music she loved. After years of work and some breaks, she found herself with T.I. and crowds of adoring fans, carrying some of the edge and grit of southern rap with the saleability of a pretty white face and pop hooks to the world. And it’s just that transition from private to public that marks out what’s wrong with Azalea: not that she stole something that belongs to someone else, or even that she’s “inauthentic,” but that she’s part of a system that erases history and people, then profits from it.
I resent Iggy Azalea for her co-optation and appropriation of sonic Southern Blackness, particularly the sonic Blackness of Southern Black women. Everytime she raps the line “tell me how you luv dat,” in her song “Fancy,” I want to scream “I don’t love dat!” I hate it. The line is offensive because this Australian born-and-raised white girl almost convincingly mimics the sonic register of a downhome Atlanta girl.
Hi! I have a question concerning serialism, and I know you're an atonal freak like me, so I'd love to hear your opinion. Can knowing how a piece was composed make you appreciate it more, and in general, how important do you think knowledge of music is to the listener? For example, when I revisited Xenakis' music after reading about his stochastic techniques I found myself enjoying the music a lot more. But should the listener even care as long as it sounds good? Should the composer care? Thanks!
I had a roommate once, a while back, who I was studying electronic music with. Thomas, lets call him, though that is not his name. We were studying, actually, at Xenakis’ former studio. And the stuff we were learning was nuts. We were talking with some very successful artists and composers about electronic music about what kinds of things come next in an art form where you are limited only by processing power: not the human body, or what microphones can pick up, not by duration or speed or any of that stuff. If you can program it, it can happen. So what ideas were there left to plumb after 50~ years of such a state?
The short answer, for lots of people, including myself and many people in the program (including the instructors) was: “weird ones”. The ideas that are left after half a century of making music free from the constraints of physical ability are, in comparison to traditionally musical ideas, the weird ones.
I never had to tell the audience not to applaud, but last year, we made a conscious decision to just not encourage it, to remove the visual cues that we are so attuned to. I discussed it with the performers last year, and they all agreed that it would be nice to not have the interruption of applause, to really let the vibrations continue. And they did, we finished performing and left the stage, the drone didn’t change, the lights didn’t change, the video didn’t change, and there was no applause. It actually feels really wonderful to have the drone keep going unimpeded, to allow the music to live on in our minds.
Hey, I know you listen to a lot of "arty" music, and I hoped you could answer this for me. Where do you draw the line between artists who are redefining traditional notions of what music is (ie, noise rock, drone, those guitarists who tell stories while playing seemingly random notes and tone clusters, etc) and people who are crazy, idiotic, or liars trying to sell nonsense as artistic vision? I guess this applies to visual arts too, but I'm more interest in music, as it's a lot more abstract.
This is an awesome question! But! Truthfully! I might not be the best person to answer it. Those guitarists who tell stories while playing seemingly random notes and tone clusters are amongst my favorite musicians, period. My base level tolerance for “nonsense” is really rather high. I find Eleh really interesting and beautiful, and I own that one Harry Pussy record where Bill Orcutt stretched a minuscule vocal sample over four sides of a record.
I cannot think of one particular thing I’ve heard recently that I identified as someone trying to sell the brand of nonsense you described as artistic vision. Maybe thats my own naiveté, and I’m taking things too much on their word? I’m sure lots of people would call Graham Lambkin and Jason Lescaleet’s Photographs or Florian Hecker’s IT ISO 161975 nonsense but I genuinely enjoy them.
The thing have no interest in is not crazy, idiotic liars trying to sell me on their artistic vision but rather when artists try to sell recycled ideas as new. I tend to distinguish between “drone” and “droney bullshit”, “free improve” and “improvisatory bullshit”, “ambient” and “ambient bullshit” and so on. The former are trying to have a conversation with their genre–to push against it, escape it, shape it, move it forward–while the latter are just wearing it like a costume. For me, good musical work struggles to find it place in the world because it doesn’t fit neatly into any one spot; great musical work succeeds at that.
The brand of nonsense I feel as though I am constantly sold as artistic vision is boring nonsense. When a band or musician becomes comfortable in their practice (or starts off comfortable), they get (or are) boring. Being boring, at least as far as the performance of music is concerned, is worse than being artistically dishonest (as described in your ask). E.g. do we need another Metallica record? No. Do we need another Radiohead record? Mmmmmaaaaaaaybe? Do we need more major key, 120bpm 4/4 techno made with fruity loops and that one Alesis drum machine? We could probably do without. More singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars? Less and less every day, I think. More dark, genre-busting hip hop? Yes. Absolutely. More records of weird noises interspersed with long bits of silence? It could really go either way.
I will gladly stand in a room and listen to two sine waves interfere with one another for an extended amount of time because I know (and feel as though) the people who make that work are trying to accomplish something with and beyond that work, and it’s A Something™ that I like.
I will never again willingly listen to an entire Ed Sheeran record. I like music to tell me things I don’t already know; he seems like a nice guy but I think I’ve heard everything Ed has to say with his music before, from someone else. Maybe that’s really harsh? I don’t know… but music like that is “noise” to me in the strictest sense: it contains no signal, no ideas or information, only nonsense.
Maybe my brain is broken?
Sociologist Michael Bull has written extensively about what he calls “iPod culture”. He might just as well have called it Walkman culture – or, indeed, Pono culture. The device and its format are not the point. As Bull notes, the iPod is just one of the latest stages in “an acoustic history of increasingly mobile privatised sound.” It is just that the iconic status of the iPod, its enormous popularity, have rendered it practically synecdochal for “a culture in which we increasingly use communication technologies to control and manage our experience of the urban environment.”
Because the mp3 knows you are not really listening. It knew in advance that you were too busy to pay it much attention. The assumption is built into its codec.