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Old 14-10-2010, 08:35 AM   #1
decode reality
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Question Too much 'message' isn't always a good 'ting'



Developing some 'music specific' ideas raised this week in my 'Protests' thread.

Music and particular artists can impact and influence the thinking of the audience. Yet regardless of the politics or message, the initial thing that draws someone to a piece of music is the SOUND - and if you see the band live or on the television/computer screen, it's the LOOK, the image of the musicians.

The 'Image Issue' is one that many artists (and 'real music lovers') see as superficial, shallow and peripheral ("I don't care about what they look like, it's the music that counts"). And yes, in the wrong hands, those external image aspects get overemphasised at the expense of the content. But is it REALLY shallow? It's your initial gut reactions to those things that draw you in. Then you might start to check out what's being said in the lyrics and find you agree. Or it plants a seed of curiosity about the subject that you'll re-visit or stumble upon at some other stage. More to the point, a good image can draw listeners to the message.

I definitely feel this was the essence of how many artists have moved me. The message was and is very important. But if I didn't feel that those bands sounded good and looked cool, their message wouldn't have reached me. This is true of WHATEVER the subject matter in the lyrics might be, no matter how earnest, conscious or 'awake'. In reality, if the message in a song is given more emphasis than the music (to the detriment of the music), then it misses the point.

Your thoughts, please.

Last edited by decode reality; 14-10-2010 at 09:13 AM. Reason: changed title
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Old 14-10-2010, 04:55 PM   #2
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Great tune + great message > Average tune + great message > lame tune with no message

That's why Going Underground by The Jam is so awesome.
Also
Uprising by Muse
Ohio by Neil Young
The Times They Are A Changin by Bob Dylan
Redemption Song by Bob Marley
If 6 Was 9 by Jimi Hendrix
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Old 15-10-2010, 06:05 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by les_paul_robot View Post
Great tune + great message > Average tune + great message > lame tune with no message

That's why Going Underground by The Jam is so awesome.
Also
Uprising by Muse
Ohio by Neil Young
The Times They Are A Changin by Bob Dylan
Redemption Song by Bob Marley
If 6 Was 9 by Jimi Hendrix
Great examples. Been thinking about all of this recently, it's something I want to address in my own music making.
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Old 15-10-2010, 03:34 PM   #4
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http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=12861

10 Things You Should Know About Sound

2010 10 12

From: cnn.com

Most of us have become so used to suppressing noise that we don't think much about what we're hearing, or about how we listen. Yet our well-being is now being seriously damaged by modern sound. Here are 10 things about sound and health that you may not know:

1.) You are a chord. This is obvious from physics, though it's admittedly somewhat metaphorical to call the combined rhythms and vibrations within a human being a chord, which we usually understand to be an aesthetically pleasant audible collection of tones. But "the fundamental characteristic of nature is periodic functioning in frequency, or musical pitch," according to C.T. Eagle. Matter is vibrating energy; therefore, we are a collection of vibrations of many kinds, which can be considered a chord.

2.) One definition of health may be that that chord is in complete harmony. The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" which opens at least three dimensions to the concept. On a philosophical level, Plato, Socrates, Pythagoras and Confucius all wrote at length about the relationship between harmony, music and health (both social and physical). Here's Socrates: "Rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful."

3.) We see one octave; we hear ten. An octave is a doubling in frequency. The visual spectrum in frequency terms is 400-790 THz, so it's just under one octave. Humans with great hearing can hear from 20 Hz to 20 KHz, which is ten octaves.

4.) We adopt listening positions. Listening positions are a useful set of perspectives that can help people to be more conscious and effective in communication -- because expert listening can be just as powerful as speaking. For example, men typically adopt a reductive listening position, listening for something, often a point or solution.

Women, by contrast, typically adopt an expansive listening position, enjoying the journey, going with the flow. When unconscious, this mismatch causes a lot of arguments.

Other listening positions include judgmental (or critical), active (or reflective), passive (or meditative) and so on. Some are well known and widely used; for example, active listening is trained into many therapists, counselors and educators.

5.) Noise harms and even kills. There is now wealth of evidence about the harmful effect of noise, and yet most people still consider noise a local matter, not the major global issue it has become.

According to a 1999 U.S. Census report, Americans named noise as the number one problem in neighborhoods. Of the households surveyed, 11.3 percent stated that street or traffic noise was bothersome, and 4.4 percent said it was so bad that they wanted to move. More Americans are bothered by noise than by crime, odors and other problems listed under "other bothersome conditions."

TED.com: Music is medicine, music is sanity

The European Union says: "Around 20% of the Union's population or close on 80 million people suffer from noise levels that scientists and health experts consider to be unacceptable, where most people become annoyed, where sleep is disturbed and where adverse health effects are to be feared. An additional 170 million citizens are living in so-called 'grey areas' where the noise levels are such to cause serious annoyance during the daytime."

The World Health Organization says: "Traffic noise alone is harming the health of almost every third person in the WHO European Region. One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to sound levels at night that could significantly damage health."

The WHO is also the source for the startling statistic about noise killing 200,000 people a year. Its findings (LARES report) estimate that 3 percent of deaths from ischemic heart disease result from long-term exposure to noise. With 7 million deaths a year globally, that means 210,000 people are dying of noise every year.

TED.com: Jose Abreu on kids transformed by music

The cost of noise to society is astronomical. The EU again: "Present economic estimates of the annual damage in the EU due to environmental noise range from EUR 13 billion to 38 billion. Elements that contribute are a reduction of housing prices, medical costs, reduced possibilities of land use and cost of lost labour days." (Future Noise Policy European Commission Green Paper 1996).

Then there is the effect of noise on social behavior. The U.S. report "Noise and its effects" (Administrative Conference of the United States, Alice Suter, 1991) says: "Even moderate noise levels can increase anxiety, decrease the incidence of helping behavior, and increase the risk of hostile behavior in experimental subjects. These effects may, to some extent, help explain the "dehumanization" of today's urban environment."
Perhaps Confucius and Socrates have a point.

6.) Schizophonia is unhealthy. "Schizophonia" describes a state where what you hear and what you see are unrelated. The word was coined by the great Canadian audiologist Murray Schafer and was intended to communicate unhealthiness. Schafer explains: "I coined the term schizophonia intending it to be a nervous word. Related to schizophrenia, I wanted it to convey the same sense of aberration and drama."

My assertion that continual schizophonia is unhealthy is a hypothesis that science could and should test, both at personal and also a social level. You have only to consider the bizarre jollity of train carriages now -- full of lively conversation but none of it with anyone else in the carriage -- to entertain the possibility that this is somehow unnatural. Old-style silence at least had the virtue of being an honest lack of connection with those around us. Now we ignore our neighbors, merrily discussing intimate details of our lives as if the people around us simply don't exist. Surely this is not a positive social phenomenon.

7. Compressed music makes you tired. However clever the technology and the psychoacoustic algorithms applied, there are many issues with data compression of music, as discussed in this excellent article by Robert Harley back in 1991. My assertion that listening to highly compressed music makes people tired and irritable is based on personal and anecdotal experience - again it's one that I hope will be tested by researchers.

8. Headphone abuse is creating deaf kids. Over 19 percent of American 12 to 19 years old exhibited some hearing loss in 2005-2006, an increase of almost 5 percent since 1988-94 (according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Josef Shargorodsky et al, reported with comments from the researchers here). One university study found that 61 percent of freshmen showed hearing loss (Leeds 2001).

Many audiologists use the rule of thumb that your headphones are too loud if you can't hear someone talking loudly to you. For example, Robert Fifer, an associate professor of audiology and speech pathology at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, says: "If you can still hear what people are saying around you, you are at a safe level. If the volume is turned so loudly that you can no longer hear conversation around you, or if someone has to shout at you at a distance of about 2 or 3 feet to get your attention, then you are up in the hazardous noise range."

TED.com: Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen

9. Natural sound and silence are good for you. These assertions seem to be uncontroversial. Perhaps they resonate with everyone's experience or instinct.

10. Sound can heal. Both music therapy and sound therapy can be categorized as "sound healing." Music therapy (the use of music to improve health) is a well-established form of treatment in the context of mainstream medicine for many conditions, including dementia and autism.

Less mainstream, though intellectually no more difficult to accept, is sound therapy: the use of tones or sounds to improve health through entrainment (affecting one oscillator with a stronger one). This is long-established: shamanic and community chant and the use of various resonators like bells and gongs, date back thousands of years and are still in use in many cultures around the world.

Just because something is pre-Enlightenment and not done in hospitals doesn't mean that it's new-age BS. Doubtless there are charlatans offering snake oil (as in many fields), but I suspect there is also much to learn, and just as herbal medicine gave rise to many of the drugs we use today, I suspect there are rich resources and fascinating insights to be gleaned when science starts to unpack the traditions of sound healing.
I hope these thoughts make a contribution to raising awareness of sound and its effects on health. I welcome your reaction, and I will check this forum and respond.

Source: cnn.com
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Old 17-10-2010, 06:43 AM   #5
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Thanks for the link, Syn....will explore it.

Reaching people through music. Bearing in mind that it's essentially entertainment (cue rendition of 'That's Entertainment'), I reckon in artistic terms, what's required is the equivalent of Bill Hicks' sharp sense of observation, irony and, in his case, comic timing. If he didn't have those qualities, he probably wouldn't have been half as effective. And we know he planted loads of seeds out there.
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Old 17-10-2010, 11:58 AM   #6
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Music videos are a very powerful tool. So if all else fails, do a good video. When people decide if they like a pop song, I reckon that the music NATURALLY comes before lyrics because of the vibe, but lyrics also have a vibe all of their own too I think - The lyrics have to fit with the vibe of the tune though - The shoe has to fit.

Having said that though, sometimes the lyrics alone (and the rhythm they are delivered) can be enough for people to resonate with it.

Interesting thread Imani.
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Old 18-10-2010, 09:25 AM   #7
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Music videos are a very powerful tool. So if all else fails, do a good video. When people decide if they like a pop song, I reckon that the music NATURALLY comes before lyrics because of the vibe, but lyrics also have a vibe all of their own too I think - The lyrics have to fit with the vibe of the tune though - The shoe has to fit.

Having said that though, sometimes the lyrics alone (and the rhythm they are delivered) can be enough for people to resonate with it.

Interesting thread Imani.
Cheers Steevo.

Especially as we've become even more focused upon image, videos can help greatly. With the vibe of the lyrics in mind, I remember once reading the website of the Birmingham reggae band Steel Pulse. Someone posted a message on their forum, saying that she was an Italian Catholic girl who has a completely different philosophy to the band but nonetheless, felt a resonance with the band's message.
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Old 18-10-2010, 09:30 AM   #8
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"What is the truth about rock music?
Music is a powerful and perhaps the most powerful medium in the world. Music. Plato says when the music of a society changes, the whole society will change.
Aristotle, a contemporary of Plato's, says when music changes there should be laws to govern the nature and the character of that music.
Lenin says that the best and the quickest way to undermine any society is through its music...
Music, ladies and gentleman, is the gift of God it was given to man to offer praises to God and to lift us up to him and to exalt Him to touch the tender
recesses of our hearts and of our minds.
Satan has taken music and he has counterfeited it, convoluted it, twisted it, exploited it and now he's using it to hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer a message into the minds and the lifestyles of this generation."

--"Jimmy Swaggert"--
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Old 18-10-2010, 09:37 AM   #9
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I know a lot of vids use the sex sells mantra which is a cheap way out. Most music vids don't really contain a message, just men or women dancing around or an animation of 3d or 2d shapes. Most of the time it has nothing at all to do with the music or the message of the lyrics, whatever that may be.


You can only deliver the message you want when you have full creative control over your work and even then, it might be biased, or opinionated based on what you believe. And what others perceive based on their own individual life choices and mentalities is usually a watered down and severely filtered end message. Like Chinese whispers.

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Old 18-10-2010, 09:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sputnik 666 View Post
"What is the truth about rock music?
Music is a powerful and perhaps the most powerful medium in the world. Music. Plato says when the music of a society changes, the whole society will change.
Aristotle, a contemporary of Plato's, says when music changes there should be laws to govern the nature and the character of that music.
Lenin says that the best and the quickest way to undermine any society is through its music...
Music, ladies and gentleman, is the gift of God it was given to man to offer praises to God and to lift us up to him and to exalt Him to touch the tender
recesses of our hearts and of our minds.
Satan has taken music and he has counterfeited it, convoluted it, twisted it, exploited it and now he's using it to hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer, hammer a message into the minds and the lifestyles of this generation."

--"Jimmy Swaggert"--
That's a great quote with some good historical nuggets thrown in there - the Lenin one, especially.
The ancient Chinese also had the same ethos about music, the Egyptians too.
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Old 18-10-2010, 09:58 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by disorder2k8 View Post
I know a lot of vids use the sex sells mantra which is a cheap way out. Most music vids don't really contain a message, just men or women dancing around or an animation of 3d or 2d shapes. Most of the time it has nothing at all to do with the music or the message of the lyrics, whatever that may be.


You can only deliver the message you want when you have full creative control over your work and even then, it might be biased, or opinionated based on what you believe. And what others perceive based on their own individual life choices and mentalities is usually a watered down and severely filtered end message. Like Chinese whispers.
I hear you there....Here's something else to consider too: A jazz musician by the name of Chico Freeman once made the point that music is always political, even when you don't choose to voice it. So, lots of those videos that are only based on dancing are themselves putting out a social political agenda.

Everybody brings their own experience to the interpretation of a song. Even if the writer had a specific intention, for the listener, whatever they think it is, that's what it is.
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Old 18-10-2010, 10:25 AM   #12
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Saying all of this, music that's purely for pleasure is good too. It doesn't always have to be trying to put across any polemic. In everyday life, we make jokes, we talk about all kinds of things and nothing at all. Music reflects all of that.
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Old 18-10-2010, 01:11 PM   #13
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Music can stir emotions.
Emotions/fear are the way that the PTB control us, and program us.
Probably one reason why the PTB like to have total control over the music/air waves.

The same goes for movies.

Last edited by steevo; 18-10-2010 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 23-10-2010, 05:03 PM   #14
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Default A word from Quincy Jones

What's the most important element in a successful song?

Melody is king, and don't you ever forget it. Lyrics appear to be out front, but they're not, they're just an accompanying factor. If they're good, you're really in good shape. Lyrics are written to be rewritten. And then they've got the prosody kind of lyrics. You couldn't tell me if your life depended on it what "Days of Wine & Roses" is all about, or "Moon River" - "Waiting round the bend my huckleberry friend". Come on! It takes great writers to do that. There's no literal meaning to that, it's just that the lyrics ride that f***ing melody to death, it hangs on to it, and it takes very professional writers to know how to do that. There's no story to it - it's an attitude.

Gq Magazine, September 2010.

http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/enterta...man-headphones
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Old 25-10-2010, 08:35 AM   #15
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Old 25-10-2010, 11:22 AM   #16
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Thanks for that....just checked out the first minute and said 'Hmm, sounds very much like a Roger Daltrey type melody'. Good guess, eh? Gonna hear a bit more now.
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Old 25-10-2010, 12:10 PM   #17
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Someone could be the fan of a band that is known for its strong social conscience and yet be oblivious to the message. Others may love the band and yet if you scratched the surface to get their real thoughts, they'd be completely at odds to their heroes' lyrical stance on things.

Songs with a protest/alternative message definitely have their role. Do they change anything? Debatable. Do prayers for peace accomplish their aim? Not much. Does the most articulate song about political corruption alter the politicians? Hardly.
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Old 25-10-2010, 02:08 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by decode reality View Post
Someone could be the fan of a band that is known for its strong social conscience and yet be oblivious to the message. Others may love the band and yet if you scratched the surface to get their real thoughts, they'd be completely at odds to their heroes' lyrical stance on things.

Songs with a protest/alternative message definitely have their role. Do they change anything? Debatable. Do prayers for peace accomplish their aim? Not much. Does the most articulate song about political corruption alter the politicians? Hardly.
If you could write a song with a positive defiant message in it, with a melody that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and that was an anthem that everyone couldnt help joining in with when they hear it, now that could change the world. But we dont hear songs like that do we - How strange!

My tip would be to do a song that has a big crowd singing in it. Hearing many voices singing together gives a subconscious feeling of power and unity, like anything is possible. Some football songs have that feel.

Last edited by steevo; 25-10-2010 at 02:09 PM. Reason: typo as usual
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Old 25-10-2010, 02:36 PM   #19
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If you could write a song with a positive defiant message in it, with a melody that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and that was an anthem that everyone couldnt help joining in with when they hear it, now that could change the world. But we dont hear songs like that do we - How strange!

My tip would be to do a song that has a big crowd singing in it. Hearing many voices singing together gives a subconscious feeling of power and unity, like anything is possible. Some football songs have that feel.
It could serve as a catalyst and be very motivational and plant seeds. When the song Free Nelson Mandela became a hit years ago, lots of people had no idea who he was. It became an anthem for the dismantling of apartheid. Now, we know that South Africa isn't exactly a haven now but that song serves as a good example.

I actually don't think it always needs a crowd on a recording. Look at You'll Never Walk Alone. The original is just one guy singing - it's an awesome piece of music, no matter who you support!

In the West and the more affluent parts of the world, most of us tend to take music for granted. It all gets lumped into entertainment. There are some places on the planet that are so openly dictatorial, to sing a song that criticises the system is literally a criminal offence. Saying that, even in this covertly dictatorial environment, more and more people are wanting something different from the songs, messages and images we're fed daily.
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Old 25-10-2010, 02:50 PM   #20
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It could serve as a catalyst and be very motivational and plant seeds. When the song Free Nelson Mandela became a hit years ago, lots of people had no idea who he was. It became an anthem for the dismantling of apartheid. Now, we know that South Africa isn't exactly a haven now but that song serves as a good example.

I actually don't think it always needs a crowd on a recording. Look at You'll Never Walk Alone. The original is just one guy singing - it's an awesome piece of music, no matter who you support!

In the West and the more affluent parts of the world, most of us tend to take music for granted. It all gets lumped into entertainment. There are some places on the planet that are so openly dictatorial, to sing a song that criticises the system is literally a criminal offence. Saying that, even in this covertly dictatorial environment, more and more people are wanting something different from the songs, messages and images we're fed daily.
That is why we gotta do it now whilst it is still RELATIVELY easy.

Yeah that Nelson Mandela song had a good melody.

One day I will write a good song, and I will put a crowd in it. I will call the band "Steevo and the Mass Awakening", unless someone on here can think up a better name ? lol
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