Listening Log

Pop vs Classical Music

I have been raised on a diet of current popular music and when very small my grandfather enjoyed listening to a lot of music which I called “Viennese waltzes” and which I still love to this day.

Good music is music which gives you a mood.  Happy, sad, in-between but music should be able to reflect how you feel – happy sounds should make you feel happy, and from the words of Elton John “sad songs say so much”.  I have always loved music which has had a feel good vibe, whether it be pop or dance.  I have never felt the need for depressing and sad songs and today that remains the same.  I am not a fan of love songs and ballads, although give me a rock ballad and I usually like that.  I love a good catchy tune, something that remains with you and something feel good.

I have always leaned towards pop music but since I have started this course I have a deeper appreciation of classical music.  This is made much more intense by my studies of music theory 1-5 and now that I am on Grade 6  I understand it more and I am sure I will have an even greater appreciation as I move up to grades 7 and 8.  Classical music pieces do tend to have themes which develop across the full work.  What we would probably call a conceptual piece.  You have conceptual pop music albums as well but nothing which is on the same scale as the orchestral piece which exist.

Music in Film


Blade Runner is a stark, bleak and extremely futuristic film from the early 1980s.  This stark, bleak feeling is reflected in Vangelis’ use of what was then modern synthesisers to recreate these feelings throughout the entire film.

The synthesisers sound almost orchestral but you instinctively know that they are electronic in nature.  The futuristic feel of the film is echoed thought the score – bleeps and blips occurring regularly and in the more dramatic moments of the film there is an emphasis on pulses and beats.  The synthesisers also convey the feeling of the setting of the film in a futuristic dystopian world.  The future and the futuristic sounds working in harmony to convey that in the score.

I would describe the music as being wholly incidental with lack of any leitmotif.  I looked at the film soundtrack and noticed that there is a piece of diegetic music, probably the only one in the entire film.  The piece is called “Blush response” and blush response is mentioned in the film and that particular piece is played at that moment.

The music is perfectly aligned with the theme of the film – bleak futurism.  A complete use of synthesisers replicating the theme throughout with the changes in tones emphasising more dramatic elements within the film.

Music and technology

Technological advances in music have enabled me to listen to music on the go using a single small device and without the need to carry any additional devices with me, such as a cassette tape or a compact disc. Technology has allowed us to laccess huge back catalogue of artists via streaming services. This technology is fantastic as you can call up practically any artist or genre in, say Apple Music and it’s there for you to listen to.  I personally use Apple Music to listen to new albums and then purchase them on CD.  However in the last few months I have taken to buying vinyl again.  Companies are reissuing classic albums  and contemporary artists on vinyl.  The advances in technology has enabled engineers to sharpen the quality of the music that is pressed onto the vinyl and you can hear it when played, the vinyl itself is of a heavier weight and the songs do sound sharper on there. Some of these albums come with a card which enables you to download the album to your music library and you have it on the move.  The best of both worlds there.

The most significant technological advance in music, has been the development of synthesisers and the the groundbreaking Fairlight CMI which gave musicians the ability to sample sounds, which many bands used in the early 80s. Thought the Fairlight did retail at around £30,000 in the beginning so it was quite an investment! Over the years the technological advances in the capabilities of the synthesiser and them becoming more compact enabled more a musicians to utilise them.  Computer technology as it is now enables the  home musician to compose on their computer using small pieces of equipment and basic apps, including the likes of Garageband.  So music is now readily available for the masses. However it does not necessarily mean that the music is any good.  Staying that, bands can write music and send it to co writers thousands of miles away for them to work on it and a number of bands can have a whole album quicker than in previous years.  Some bands still prefer to work the old fashioned way, in the studio jamming.

The disadvantage of this technology is that it allows the novice musician to record themselves and their music and upload to social media outlets, where, if discovered their fame is almost instantaneous. However the lack of plying their trade and being turned down and knocked back is not happening and when the fame fades, sometimes as quickly as it appeared they find themselves unable to cope. There has also been an increase in the number of artists who have been caught plagiarising music and have found themselves the subject of legal action.  They do not know how to create a unique sound of their own and its a shame, influences are great but simply copying a whole chunk of a melody and maybe changing a small piece of it in the hope nobody notices, really is not the way to go!

Companies responsible for putting music in the public domain have a more fickle approach to the artists that they sign and instead of giving them some scope to learn by mistakes and  gaining a following after some small gigs now usually want instant success and if this does not happen they soon get rid of the artist. There is a high turnover of artists and not the quality of music there has been in previous decades.The skills and craft of the musician is being eroded by this technology, which is a shame.  There are musicians who are getting through but its a very hard won game and they have to work harder than bands in the past as there is always a new sensation, usually from a dreadful reality TV talent search!

I have investigated the possibility of attending live music events in my area but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be an option as there is very little to be heard which is a shame as I would like to have had the opportunity to experience music live.  If that is possible in the future then I will certainly make a concerted effort to attend if I can.

At the time of writing I hold no views on contemporary music, but I will listen to the suggested pieces and convey my feelings as honestly as possible.

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