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STANDALONE or COMPLEX
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Stanley Pain



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:16 am    Post subject: STANDALONE or COMPLEX
Subject description: the nature of a collection
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we've probably all written pieces of music that stand by themselves, and i'm sure many of us have written Suites or Albums or other collections of movements/pieces of music.

when when you have written a collection of pieces that are to be identified as some form of collection, what are the "rules of continuity" that you have used?

the easiest i have used was on an album i've just written, i've kept the instrumentation pretty consistant throughout. also my choice of post-african and latin american inspired rhythmic motifs was fairly consistant.

some artists like to use lyrics to form a conceptual strand that runs throughout a body of work, from Spinal Tap Wink to oratorias of old.

those are pretty straight forward examples but i'm sure there must be some odd/innovative practices to share.

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Wayne Higgins



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sometimes I think the whole conceptual thing is on a subconscious level. I rarely think "the next disc will be about...", but somehow, the individual parts come across as connected. "Wakulla Sketchbook" was started as a series of drawings, hence the word sketchbook, but in all honesty the idea of my music being drawings covers everything I do. "A Line From A Pale Blue Dot" is a 6 hour long piece, the idea was to connect different parts into a single work to signify being on a long journey. As far as everything else I have completed and released in my own virtual universe, if the work is connected or conceptual, the conceptual idea occured after the fact.

The subject of a "concept album" is an interesting one. I've read that The Beatles "Rubber Soul" (1965) was the first album in which the artist had a say in album title, selected songs, song order, and album cover. Before "Rubber Soul" every album ever released was a corporate decision. Artists would record music and the record company would compile the recordings and release an album. Jazz albums were session recordings that the company cut up and produced, pop/rock/r'n'b/country were all singles that the company would release. Johnny Cash did an album entitled "Ballads of the True West" (1965) which was a concept album, a collection of traditional songs. 1965, what a year. Also that year came John Coltrane "A Love Supreme", Bob Dylan "Highway 61 Revisited". So, one could say that pre-1965, the only true musical conceptions were operas, symphonies and movie soundtracks.

ALTHOUGH----One of my alltime favorite albums is "Music of the Rain Forest Pygmies" (1961), which is definately an album of music released of a single theme, albeit not composed, or performed as one.

HOLD ON!!! Could I be onto something? Were the first concept albums actually made as educational tools?

Conceptual "art"... that's the ticket. thumb up

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Stanley Pain



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

that 2nd paragraph is very very interesting. i'd never considered that corporate involvement was as extensive as that! literally "never considered".

any reference material much appreciated... books, websites etc... i'm not calling you on this, i'd just like to read more Smile

re: your first paragraph, i'm yet to conceptualise any piece of music before i've written it, so i sympathise with your assertion that conceptualisation happens on a subconscious level or at least on a post-production conceptual level...

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I dunno quite where to start. Most of my work can be called conceptual and some this consists of a series of pieces. I spend a lot of time working out literally what is to be encoded into the music and then I try to solve it musically. That does however not mean that I think it is possible to decode a piece of music in the sense that the listener will truly understand what I am saying. A discussion of the symphonic poem .
On the other hand, I do think that methods and approaches often used within other art forms also have a relevance when writing music.

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Wayne Higgins



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I don't think I made that up, probably read it in Rolling Stone or something like that. Anyway...

elektro80
Quote:
On the other hand, I do think that methods and approaches often used within other art forms also have a relevance when writing music


Exactly. Even though there has always been talk about music as art, art in music, it always seemed quite pompous to me. One of the first albums that hit me on that level, believe it or not, was The Stranglers "Aural Sculpture". I think that one is pretty much a conceptual piece as far as the sound/attitude they were going for. Alot of people didn't get into it, and it took some dong for me. When it did, the impression was lasting.

An odd exampel of concept albums for me is Jethro Tull. Is "Thick as a Brick" a concept album or a long song? "A Passion Play" was described by Ian Anderson as a album that didn't want separate cuts. Many people consider "Aqualung" a concept album, but a concept of what? I don't think JT did, but then again, I'm not in the band. "Too Old To Rock and Roll: Too Young To Die" concept album or clever comic cover?

This is a great subject. I just hope I'm not missing the point between conceptual pieces and concept album/collection.

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bachus



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oenyaw wrote:
This is a great subject. I just hope I'm not missing the point between conceptual pieces and concept album/collection.


JM2C but if you don't look ot the "classics" as well you will indeed miss a lot. Not even going all that far back one could look to Bach's "Liturgical Year"

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Sam_Zen



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2008 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

A performance of a number of pieces is always restricted. Whether it's a live performance or an album.
So it comes up with the choice of doing just one track after the other one, or considering the total session,
and doing the tracks in a certain order, looking at a common property, in time, so maybe telling a story.

The tracks of an album are composed, but then the order of playing back the tracks should be a composition as well.

And in the light of concept albums : Before The Who came with their Tommy-opera, the Pretty Things already made 'SF Sorrow'.
With a lot of electronics involved.

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bachus



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Perhaps the most interesting collection principle is found in Bach's "Well-Tempered Clavier." It is, through a single principle, a simultaneously conceptual and musical organization. Neat feat!
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Wayne Higgins



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I meant point of this thread. Like, I am familiar with pieces like "Thus Spoke Zarathrusta", "The Planets" and "Verklarte Nacht".

Jus cos Im from Greenville dosnt mean Im ignorent. Laughing
Ask Ray.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oenyaw wrote:
I meant point of this thread. Like, I am familiar with pieces like "Thus Spoke Zarathrusta", "The Planets" and "Verklarte Nacht".

Jus cos Im from Greenville dosnt mean Im ignorent. Laughing
Ask Ray.


I guess I didn't get the point of this thread. Shocked

BTW I used to live on a little farm north of Glendale FL which is north of De Funiak Springs, you know, in LA (lower Alabama) and it would never occur to me to think that someone was dumb because they grew up in the sticks--ask Howard Wink .

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Wayne Higgins



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

point or no point, its complex to stand alone!

I graduated from Graceville High School, but I never lived in Jersey.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

So I was wondering on my way to work this morning. Did Holst sit back one day and think "I'm gonna write a conceptual piece about The Planets," or did he get the idea one day by putting a bunch of little things he had already written and say "hmmm, The Planets sounds like a good theme."???
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Oenyaw wrote:
or did he get the idea one day by putting a bunch of little things he had already written and say "hmmm, The Planets sounds like a good theme."???


Personally I dont' think that is likely. Though perhaps he had an idea or two that eventually connected to a planet or two and then...

Perhaps some research would answer that. I'll look at when I get through scrubbing the floors Sad ... on the other hand we could find someone good with a wiege board and put the question to him Razz

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I keep working until the project feels complete - sometimes some tracks don't fit in and are discarded, but they still stand alone - this might spark a new thread for another lp or ep with that as the first track. Pretty organic I think. Not sure I could plan an lp before starting it - or if I did I'm sure it would end up completely off the original track.
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LandOfDoAsYouPlease



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PostPosted: Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I never prethink an entire album.

I will prethink a piece and decide the feel and where I want it to go, and sometimes even that changes halfway through.

I don't see how anyone could just slam out an album on which every track was "prethunk".

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

LandOfDoAsYouPlease quote:
Quote:
I don't see how anyone could just slam out an album on which every track was "prethunk".


Probably correct. Themes of albums are commonly prethought, but it would be stretching it to say that any work of any kind (music, literature, film) would be completely preplaned. Unless you wake up one morning and say "I'm gonna write 12 country songs about that ..."

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

As for the planets, its hard to entirely get inside his head, but I imagine he started on the idea of writing about all the planets pretty early on in the process. The movements, being an exploration of muscally describing astrology, seems to lend itself to being a big project as opposed to a small one gotten out of hand.

How about having little to no musical connection at all but stressing that the juxtaposition of ideas creates an overall meaning? Especially with the freedom of electronic music (or the amazing abilities of people like John Zorn), a huge mishmash of music can be strung together to produce a sort of gestalt like effect (if that's the right word for it).
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The way I'm feeling = the songs I write.

After a while, I gather up twenty or so of those songs and try to work out what I was feeling. Often, it won't be what I consciously thought I was feeling. Then there's an AHA! moment where I realise what the album has to be about and what it has to be called. Then I remove the songs that would muddy that theme, kind of like a sculptor removing clay to reveal the thing within.

Sorry if that all sounds a bit hyperemo. Embarassed

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For years and years including well into electronics, I followed the 'verse verse chorus verse verse chorus chorus' / etc. frame of mind. Razz
In January 2001, when I decided to once AGAIN start rewriting my (cough cough) 'rock opera' that I started writing in 1978, did I wander out into a 'different world'. Wink
Since then, I've written by mood almost strictly, strongly influenced from the (cough cough) 'techno' world.
Since then, the 20 or so pieces that I've written have usually started with a melodic theme (higher up, bassline or chord progression) and gone from there, adding as I please - maintaining the mood overall - but otherwise not really laying any boundaries.
My 'rock opera' rewrite turned into a 52 minute long collection of themes (one main one repeated) with it's first 20 minutes - NARRATED as opposed to vocals, telling the story. (And it's till not finished, with the now 4th desire to rewrite / restructure, repeat more themes).
An ambient piece where I experimented with slowing down a theme from it's normal'ish 110 bmp or so, down to about 30 or 40 bpm, casting instruments out and building up from it, has turned into 1 of my most favourite ambient pieces I've ever composed, with repeating and non-repeating themes changing the overall mood through it's 61 minute length.

I'm VERY curious as to where I'm going now, as I haven't begun composing anything new since 2004. I've got the burning desire to do vocals for the first time since 2001 (though I can't sing. Wink ), but I'm also restricting myself to home MADE sequencers only along with live improv. direct to digital recording - more or less, much of each 'tune' written live and then writing lyrics that fit the 'mood' of the piece as it were written. Smile

This, will be an almost completely new experience to me, as I've only ever recorded live performance jams of myself, somewhere between 3 and 5 times in my life. Shocked

Looking forward to this commencing very soon, BIG time! Very Happy
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