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bear by san

March 2017



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criminal minds reid forgive yourself

This applies to pretty much every kind of art I know about.


We love sloppy, as long as it is heartfelt, and got a good beat.
Ah, but I wonder how much of this is hindsight. If the Beatles weren't the band that many revere as nigh rock gods, would this reviewer have felt the same way about Rain? If he heard it today (recorded on old-fashioned tape,as one commenter noted, it's still in use for its audio effects), would he embrace it as musical genius, or think it was just interesting music that needed better arrangement or another recording session? I shun the overly sanitized as much as anyone who makes things, but sometimes I do admire an attractive sheen. As long as I recognize sugar coating for the veneer it is, I can still savor the sweet. I am not, however, a polishing apologist. Clearly I spend far too much time thinking about authenticity...
I heard "rain" for the first time in the late 1980s, and just loved it. I'm ignorant about music and technique--I loved the spacey, languid quality, the drawn-out-ness of the chorus, and the blissed-out-seeming words. I didn't (and don't) know enough about music to identify it as musical genius--or to pick out the mistakes--but certainly I was drawn to it.
a musician knows people will fall in love with anything if they hear it enough times, the whole foundation of pop music. It's the hook.
Oh god yes.

There is something about flawed things that has always appealed to me. Not flawed in the sense that they're unpublishable or trash or just plain sloppy.

Flawed in the sense that they are human.

I want to snuggle this post a whole lot.

One of the things I love about Flogging Molly's first big album, Swagger, is that I can hear bits of it that are ever-so-slightly out of tune. That's one of the reasons I go to live concerts, too -- they have a life to them that's often missing in the recording.

If the author of that article thinks rock music has it bad, consider the case of recorded modern college a cappella music. One of the big points of a cappella is that, look, this thing that's done with synthesizers in a studio, we can do that with our voices too! So clearly recorded a cappella should have voices in it, right? But instead everybody processes the soul out of their music so it's indistinguishable from the original, now that studio-quality digital processing can be had by anybody in their dorm room. Comparing the recordings produced by groups ten or twenty years ago with those produced today is ridiculous but instructive. Recorded a cappella: just say no.
This issue--whether or not do get rid of all mistakes--only comes up if the possibility exists. I remember seeing an ironworker beating a hook on an anvil. He derided people who think that something's only yummy-good handcrafted if it looks all beaten up, if you could see the blows of the hammer. But, he said, he understood how that had happened: an obviously handcrafted look came to be valued because machines could produce perfect iron hooks, or grillwork for gates, etc., time and time again. So, the only way you could even tell that something was handmade was by the errors.

But it's taste, too, whether you like eggshell-thin, delicate porcelain teacups, or idiosyncratic, rough-seeming raku ware, say. Or sometimes you can like both :-)
Some Native American potters added deliberate mistakes to the decoration on their work -- a perfect pattern could catch your soul . . .
Amish ladies always add a deliberate mistake to their quilts if they find (as it nears completion) they haven't made one to leave in. They call the block with the mistake the "humility square:" nobody makes perfect things except God!

Edited at 2009-11-15 06:12 pm (UTC)
Believing that they were in danger of creating perfection at that level is a kind of arrogance I can't comprehend.
Only, I think, if you're placing a certain social value on perfection. Which it looks like they weren't.
The sense I got was more along the lines of "You put a bit of yourself in every pot you make. Leave a way for it to get out again."
You know those tags you see on leather? The ones that say something like, "The imperfections you see are part of the natural process and add to its beauty?" Art is like that, too.
Off-topic: Thanks for visiting the NJ SF club last night! I enjoyed hearing you talk about writing. And I was inspired to (1) join the Online Writing Workshop (username: Bard), and (2) very definitely not quit my day job.
Thank YOU!
Yeah, and here I don't like the Beatles because I think they were mediocre musicians who happened to be perched just at the edge of respectability (white, good class background, art students, etc).

I prefer artists who took new media and mastered them - Jimi Hendrix is the perfect example, a man who played the solidbody electric guitar like a samurai slicing flower petals in midair. The artist and the tool were so perfectly married that separating them would have been criminal.
the mistake being made is the universal application of that tool, as dictated by the current fashion, in order to try to make Everything sound the same in terms of flat, slick, loud and canned, which is totally not the point of a lot of people's music, outside of the dance/pop category. flipside, it's just as obnoxious and annoying to have people going into a basement and turning on an analogue tape deck insisting that it you "more authentic and real" because that's the same thing as deliberately flubbing something to make it seem "more handcrafted."

personally i agree with the motivation of the article, because the example they used aside, i'm having the same problem with a lot of bands right now, in which their albums do not in any way represent what they do, it's just what they do run thru the filter of the current fashion in production, so you can't actually hear what you like about them outside of club.

i think it's possible to have neat things come out of experimentation with digital tools, as we DO see a lot of neat things come from it. i can see why people are excited to play with it, much like the latest in photoshop filters. if it's a natural process, artists will find something that works for them, whether or not we're fans of it. but at the moment, we also get a deluge of stuff that has just been given the same "package" treatment given by the same people that were trained by the same people, given the same philosophy of "doen it rite", as opposed to what really works for any given song. not necessarily a conspiracy of publishers/music companies/etc, but simple social pressure, including those market forces.

i think that does apply across the board--the going fashion becomes "the new rules for doing this" in all fields of art--i mean, look at the differences in writing between the 19th century and now. and those rules mess up things that are not best served by following that particular fashion. you can edit, re-write, polish, tweak, twiddle with, over-paint, and lock down until you end up with something that appears to fit the new rules, but is completely dead and static. that line is different for different people and different genre aesthetics, but it's still there, and it's still a decision an individual artist has to make.

Edited at 2009-11-15 07:09 pm (UTC)
absolutely, it's hard to argue aesthetics and fashion for a lot of those reasons--one person's great love sets another person's teeth RIGHT ON EDGE, and they're both perfectly valid perspectives.

the one thing about the article, i think that does serve a purpose (however awkwardly, or with its own mistakes!) is that it is a comfort to the Perfectionist. no, a particular piece doesn't have to perfect to be seen, certainly not within the bounds of using the latest fashion as a grading scale, and often, it's the imperfections that make it work, the gritty places and variations that make it stick, and thus, perfect. it reminds me of this editing book that has some pretty good and helpful advice, but unfortunately, is of limited use to me because it decided to use fitzgerald's the great gatsby as their sample to edit, which um, that makes it hard for me to pay attention over the contant "...ack! i love that line! you want me to re-word it? NO. oh, and btw did you notice that that's the great gatsby you're slapping red lines all over!? stoppit!"

i know why they chose that work, i know it's good to remember that even the important works are flawed, and i recognize that yes, it's damned imperfect according to the fashions of here and now, or even long-established english writing rules, and y'know what? i don't CARE. it's still perfect enough for me and i don't want it "fixed." =D
sometimes the track or line of music you're so sure was fed through the computer was actually just one of the guys with a metal trashcan over his head

ZOMG I am intrigued - would you mind telling me the name of this group, and the name of the recording (and/or album)?
Yes, this. The best illustration you can give is to take someone like Jack White and compare with someone like Steely Dan. That Jack White is all sharp corners, pointy bits, and yowling and his sister doesn't have great rhythm doesn't make his art any less valid just because it lacks the production wizardry that went into 'Aja' any more than a Salvador Dali painting is less art than an Ansel Adams photograph.

And the same technology enables art that wouldn't otherwise exist, like Auto-Tune The News. I've watched this a hundred times, and I still crack up when Pat Buchanan sings "White Folks", sufferin' from White Guy Overload.
Steely Dan was one of the worst concerts I've ever been to, but I still like them tons as a studio band.
Who was it who used to say "The perfect is the enemy of the good"?
there are lots of citations for that quote. Obama said it today in China
Thanks for posting this -- it set me on a voyage of several hours, wherein I read all the comments to that post, copied some salient quotes to my notebook that applied to my oeuvre, surfed other places and links, and wound up watching "Before The Music Dies" on Hulu, as some commenter suggested, which was a pretty decent documentary about the state of the music business. All very enlightening and heartening!
I cannot begin to express how much I agree with this. Thanks for the link.
Any time, m'friend.