Wednesday, August 31, 2011
...and further confessions!
dear oh dear, pouring out of me like a tidal wave, they are ;-)
ok, well, the first one is easy enough: in one of my (numerous) comment-footnotes to the previous post, i thought i detected rhythmic assonance between dave holland's "four winds" and b's comp. 23c, but didn't check the date on the latter, being pushed for time and with a lot to get out (!). composition notes actually date that one to 1973... which makes holland's the "prior art" in this case (thanks to neil f. for that one!). except it pretty much doesn't, because b's piece is considerably more ambitious and would in any event be a case of only minimal convergence; if the other way round, holland's simpler and shorter theme might be deemed to show sings of influence. all we've been able to deduce here is that in this instance he/it didn't. not quite the same as influencing the maestro, but it's worth at least clearing that up.
staying on the subject of conference for a minute: fwiw i playlisted four of the six tracks from that album, back in the day (specifically 2002-3) and thus heard all of those, at least, on numerous occasions. the title track was indeed on one of my ballads compilations and "four winds" was on another. besides these, my favourite was of course "see-saw" which i've talked about plenty of times before (though i'm not about to chase up the links right now, maybe later if i remember to come back to it!) - loved it (frequently anthologised it for friends also)... until i discovered it was just a less ambitious reworking of b's comp. 6i. naturally that did take the gloss off a bit. the fourth one was "interception" which to my ear is a more interesting theme than "winds", though maybe not by much. it used to remind me of zappa somewhat too, though i can't now think (off the top of my head) which zappa piece/s it resembles.
now: i don't know how much relevance this has, probably some, it's really only just occurred to me to bring it up...
I WAS A (failed) TEENAGE HEAVY METAL GUITAR MAULER
's true, 'strue... i must have been 14 when i started, and of course it's dead easy in principle: these days you would start with green day or something, but for me it was 1984 and learning began with the sex pistols, and other basic riffs like "iron man" by black sabbath or "smoke on the water" by deep purple... amazing how encouraging it is when you "play" your first "tune" - and how quickly one can start to put on airs when one "knows" some "chords" (this set of inverted commas refers rather to the (true) joke that what passed for chords in heavy rock back then and since time immemorial were more often than not a root-and-fifth, beefed up a bit if necessary with an octave... the ironic thing about that is that in my case, before i could get my hands on an axe of my own, i first had to indulge my curiosity with my mother's spanish guitar and chord book, thus learning the fretboard shapes (though not understanding the use) of all sorts of exoticisms which, of course, were seldom if ever employed in the realms of the tight trouser brigade - not back then; in these post-slayer days, all bets are long since off)... it lasted a few years, i played rhythm guitar in a couple of mates' bands, briefly attending rehearsals etc... nothing much came of that... was in a band called satan's choir when i was 15-16, playing (competent) rhythm and (duff, formulaic) lead - the other guitarist, my best friend at the time, was much better than me and also wrote all the original material - not that it ever got finished, and the only public performance the band ever gave was all covers and one joke original (which i shan't name right at this moment, ahem...). so... i didn't exactly set the world on fire. i had no formal training at all on this instrument and was entirely self-taught, copying records (as they were then)... and any attempts i made to dip a toe into theory ended up with a sharp withdrawal, so that i only ever had a motley, magpie's collection of (verbal and conceptual) terminology at my disposal - but, you know, i have known better musicians than me in my life and when i hear interesting things, i file them away and never forget them so... if i sometimes appear to use terms that only a pro would use... i pinched it somewhere, somewhen or picked it up at a bus-stop one day, it wasn't learned in college. but i think this is obvious enough ;-)
anyway... this is why i've never brought it up before. (some of my online friends probably know already, it's not a secret or anything, it never occurred to me that it was relevant.) but yes, thinking about it, i do have some background and here it goes... what now strike me as the relevant bits: raised on both classical and rock music, not much else, able to talk my way through rock and pop, and identify numerous major composers/pieces of music by age eleven, twelve (education in classical music frozen at same age, as it turned out)... one aunt was a music student, proficient on 15-20 instruments, good enough on piano to teach kids and play church organ for hymns/at family weddings etc - was once (as i understand it) a national standard recorder soloist, one of not many at the time, now much involved with the national youth recorder orch. of britain and a singer in the city of birmingham symphony orch's choir. she was my favourite aunt when i was a little boy, but she failed to make any headway teaching me recorder, which i didn't really want to keep learning and soon dropped. it didn't rub off at all, but the aptitude is in there somewhere: we did the "bentley ear tests" when i was at school (age 11 i guess) and i came second out of 2-300, however many it was (the guy who came first, my other best friend in those days, was the school prodigy, grade eight piano by age 11, remember him playing beethoven sonatas etc, i believe he is now a professional organist in the south of france). that in turn led me to being talked into piano lessons, and in theory violin also, but the latter never quite happened, partly because the former just didn't work - i quite enjoyed messing about on the piano for about a year or so, and for that matter enjoyed the pieces i had to play for grade one, but i couldn't read at all, could only play looking at the keyboard and if i made a mistake, i basically had to start again since i could not return to the score. all i had ever wanted to be, ironically enough, was a drummer, but again, at a private school that means learning (on a rubber pad) to read scores so you can stand there in your penguin suit reading page after page of rests and then going "bong" - no, that killed my interest in that stone dead, and my parents could afford neither a kit nor (i suspect) the room for me to practise it, so...
... forward a couple of years and the guitar comes out from under the sofa one evening after i'd been listening to something or other... probably the pistols... just getting into heavy rock etc... now, i've already outlined the extent of my glittering career, but for a while back there i did at least put some work into it... once thrash metal really bit in 1984-5, i was hooked and spent many hours figuring out riffs and trying to learn solos... as most readers here won't necessarily know, thrash raised the bar for discipline and technique in rhythm guitar (did less for the other instruments... although it also produced some very notable drummers - bearing in mind that modern metal drumming is all pattern-repetition and not much rhythmic sense in many cases, death metal being the exception - but then blame keith moon and roger taylor jointly for that one, i reckon *1) - and although most thrash was military-stiff, - either fast or slow, but in either case still pretty simple - there were also natural virtuosi in the scene from very early on, such as dave mustaine (megadeth, ex-metallica) and gary holt (exodus) who were excellent soloists and also capable of great rhythmic subtlety and sensitivity, so that not all my templates were "braindead headbangers". (haha, i myself could do a pretty passable impression of one of those at the time, mind you.) i practised and copied - could never write for shit, one of the things that led to my jacking it in - which eventually meant transcribing solos (in guitar tablature), so that i did have to learn how to distinguish tonal effects and different timbres, etc as well as varieties of attack, and so on. ok, maybe i actually learned more back then than i have bothered to realise. (*2)
yep... i am that cliche, the frustrated musician turned critic - except that i'm not, because a) i am not exactly a critic and b) i am not frustrated: have never stopped loving music, never had to forgive it for the fact that i was never anywhere near as good as i would have wanted to be. i always did have high standards... or at least, i wasn't born with 'em, but they sure got in there early in my development ;-)
- these things have (sort of) come up again... no, i am not a "proper" music student and never was (or even close - except via osmosis..!); and i cannot therefore be a "proper" musicologist... but still, i'm not entirely ignorant of these matters either. (though again - all modesty aside - is that not kind of obvious by now..?)
a comment was left recently by "jon-a" and although i acknowledged it, i haven't yet found time to give the matter my attention. it was left against, and concerns this post... anyone care to weigh in? i still haven't enjoyed much listening time lately (though as you can see i have been at least thinking about music again); although, the more i think back, the more it seems that i did notice (e.g.) some of the spoken passages repeated; i did not take the time to verify whether a part of the recording is actually duplicated. if so... i guess an email to mr leo feigin might be in order, to ask what that was about..? (i will ask the maestro too, though i rarely get answers to direct questions!)
* see comments
Posted by centrifuge at 2:29 PM