Listening Log

How would you define music?

The Concise Oxford Dictionary definition of music is:

“the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion.”

What does music mean to me?

Stepping away from the dictionary definition, music to me is the sounds that can make me, happy, sad or joyful . Music can change the way I feel. Some days I can listen to a piece of music which puts me in a good mood for the whole day. That piece of music, whatever it is, that you need to turn up to the highest volume possible. Then you have some pieces which you find calm or relax you.

Music reminds me of special times – I definitely associate music with occasions, both happy and sad. Music is my life, many of my friends have been made through a shared love of certain bands. Music draws like minded souls together. Music has saved my life. My chronic depression is alleviated at times by music from my favourite band, or the prospects of live music – seeing a band live that I have never seen before or an old favourite.

Music is broad and transcends borders, religions, cultures and continents. You can always discover music in many and varied forms.


Research point

Music of the week Monday August 20th to Sunday August 26th 2018

Monday 20th August 2018

My phone ringtone which is currently set to “Pale Shelter” by Tears for Fears.

Whilst having lunch, music from adverts and pieces of broadcasts.  The music in old reruns of Law and Order which sets the tone for drama.  The Jeremy Kyle Show pieces – the style of the music gives an indication of what or how the piece/segment will go.  The harder, edgier pieces for those who appear a little more “aggressive”, sympathetic tones for sadder parts and tones which are more neutral as you have no idea which way the segment will go.

Whilst working at my computer I usually put on iTunes and look to see what Apple Music has to offer to suit my mood.  Compilations of albums or albums by a particular artist, it depends on my mood.

Chose some new music today by Jake Shears. I loved the Scissor Sisters and this came up in the suggestions.  Took a listen and love it so much that I purchased it. I still have his memoir to read, which is up next once I have finished my current read.

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Throughout the day there were many instances of music on the TV including the chants coming from the football, Crystal Palace with “Glad All Over” and Liverpool with “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, which is from the musical Carousel by Rodgers and Hammerstein.  Later in the evening I watched another instalment of “Unsolved” dealing with the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious BIG, so there was music there which was unfamiliar to me.

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Tupac Shakur
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The Notorious B.I.G

Tuesday August 21st 2018

Today’s chosen listening consisted of the following

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Tom Bailey – Science Fiction
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Rick Astley – Beautiful Life

an Apple Music Favourite Mix compiled by Apple Music from my loaded/downloaded music

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Apple Music compilation

I spent the evening with the telvision on and heard music in many forms again. The terrace chants at the Swansea City v Leeds United live football match and I caught snippets of the music that was being played during the half time interval.  Of course there was the music from the adverts and from another episode of the Unsolved television programme, which I heard more Rap/HipHop than I have ever done before.

Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Had some things to take care of at home so I stuck my iPOD onto the sound system and I listened to the following albums

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David Bowie Heroes the album although the single happens to be one of my all time favourite songs

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INXS – Kick – 30th anniversary edition. Superb production and sharper than the original recording.

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The much critically acclaimed album. I am actually friends with their very talented bassist Les. His grooves on this album are second to none

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This is my favourite band and the reason I love music and my reason for being alive. Their music has got me through some hard times as well as good and when their bassist’s John released his own custom bass guitar I bought it and started my music learning journey

Again my evening was full of songs from TV adverts and the football terraces as well as background music in TV shows as well as incidental music in TV shows.

Thursday 23rd August 2018

This was a very quiet day for music.  All I heard in the morning was the music from the beauty salon as I passed by.  I didn’t play anything at home but in the evening the music I heard was from TV adverts however there was a huge amount of music whilst watching WWE Summerslam. You  have the advertised theme music but you also have the music of each of the superstars as they enter the arena and it is all varied with some being very catchy.

Friday 24th August 2018

Quiet day again as I was out.  I did hear music from car radios, muzak and lotsof mobile ringtones.  Watched the rest of the WWE Summerslam, so I had their music as well as those of adverts.

Saturday 25th August 2018

Saturday means football so as I listen to various broadcasts I hear so much music from the terraces, adverts and songs.  Very diverse selection.

Sunday 26th August 2018

I always have Absolute 80s radio tuned in on Sunday’s so there was plenty of my kind of music.  In the afternoon again there was all the associated football music, adverts and background music

Reflection

In reflection I thinking am quite rigid in the the way that I listen to music. On the radio I tend to stick to the same station and sing along happily to the radio  whilst with CD’s or Apple Music I find I listen more and absorb things in a different way.

I find the music or incidental music that occurs in the TV programmes can be very loud and annoying and detracts from the spoken word and the programme itself.  However the programme that I watched concerning Tupac and Notorious BIG, the background music enhanced the listening and viewing experience but it blended and didn’t distract from the plot and the ongoing dialogue.

Whilst listening this week I have noticed music and how it fits in.  Music makes me happy.  Music in sporting situations makes me feel “Yes, lets do this” and terrace songs are sung with such a passion it can border on amazing.  I have taken more time to consider the situations that the music is found and whether I like it or not.

An interesting exercise.


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 – VANGELIS

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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