Friday, August 05, 2005

It's late and I'm tired

I've been thinking about music a lot recently, as you can probably tell from the increasing incoherence and length of these entries. I say thinking, it's not really thinking more just listening. I suspect that trying to explain what you like or dislike about music is like trying to push a river up a hill. Like art it has many technical rules of composition and effect that provide order in the chaos. However to the uninitiated, like myself, music is still chaos. Just very beautiful chaos.

I don't have the eloquence to explain what is so good about one song or other without resorting to all sorts of bizarre descriptions that only make sense to me and my peculiar musical synaesthesia. I could tell you about how the guitar in 'The Sky is Falling' * feels all rough and tastes like peanuts or how the electric piano sound from 'Mary' ** looks dark purple. However this information wouldn't really tell you anything about the music I'm trying to describe or how it makes me feel. It would only make you question the wiring of my brain.

The inability to express why some music is good and some isn't is a cause of all sorts of horrors, from the aforementioned cool fights to arguments between friends over bands that one loves and the other thinks is crap. I can't explain why I don't like coldplay, it just feels smooth, sort of shiny but in a polished way. This isn't a very good reason to give to someone who idolises them and often results in slapping. I think much of the idea of musical identity is people giving themselves a justification, a reason to dislike huge swathes of music without having to ask themselves why. A man who only listens to metal, wears nothing but black and has hair down to his armpits doesn't have to sit there and wonder why he likes Justin Timberlake's new single, he just doesn't listen to it.

I think everyone blinkers their musical outlook to an extent. I, for example, am incapable of liking country music, commercial hip-hop, Free Jazz and the more extreme forms of Prog-Rock (I don't count deathmetal as music - in the same way that I don't count chainsaws as music). I don't know exactly why I don't like this music but by avoiding it altogether it makes my life a great deal simpler.

All this said though, what I know of technical musical theory could fit on the back of a fag packet and I couldn't point out melody in a police lineup. I listen to music that most people wouldn't consider to be particularly tuneful (I'm currently listening to McLusky Do Dallas) And I've got a history of hating music just because of genre. However I think there is always something there in the music I like, some energy, linguistic invention, even just a dirty sense of humour.

I suppose Cannibal Corpse fans would argue the same.


If they could string a sentence together that is.

I wonder if a bunch of socially inadequate spotty metalheads will start gibbering in my comments box.

I hope not.


* Queens of the Stone Age. Songs For the Deaf Track 5. Interscope 2002

** Supergrass. Supergrass is 10 Track 12. Parlophone 2004