Thanks to one of my oldest mates, Paul I got to see GnR in concert.Yes, I know Slash isn’t there so that’s half the magic gone but Axl Rose still rocked it.

Starting off with a song from Chinese Democracy they then went into ‘Welcome to the Jungle.’ I must say my hair stood on end. The band were brilliant with Axl for some bizarre reason choosing to have THREE guitarists. Yes three. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it but there you go. Reliving teenage years is always good.

The sound (PA) however wasn’t that good. I don’t fully get it. Surely the GnR would have one of the best as their sound engineers? Or maybe my ears have become more and more accustomed to other things.

The crowd was interesting. It was mostly white with a smattering of Asians both subcontinental and far eastern. But the Asians didn’t look or sound as British born and brought up folk. Paul theorised that these were people who had loved GnR in the country that they had grown up. As far as I could see there were no black people. I found it quite interesting. I had a slightly blinkered notion about music that it was a unifying force. Yet recent experiences have shown that the opposite is true too. Music divides.

Back to the concert, Axl was fashionably late. Obviously the crowd grew restive and the booing and whistling started and so the PA guys played out a bunch rock hits from the nineties and noughties in effect to shut us all up. I had just started reading ‘Noise: A Political Economy of Music’ by Jaques Attali where he speaks of the powers that be using music to silence people. How true! Shame on you Axl. But thanks for our teenage years.

Lent 36 : Other Ways

This is a piece which uses a 12 tone row. For those of you unfamiliar with this it is a composition technique that ensures that every tone available has to be played before it is used again within the music. So if one plays a C, it can be used again only after playing all the other notes. And the order in which the notes appear is repeated in this piece. Repititions of notes are allowed but only immediately. So we can play C C but not C E C.

I did this as part of a composition course I was doing last month. A lot of the music sounds discordant. But the point is where did our sense of harmony come from? Do we listen to music only in certain ways? It would seem that for most people music is primarily a call and response in an emotional sense. Emotion rules prime in how music is heard. Music is also a slave to the image. Play an atonal piece and people might say ‘sounds like a scary movie.’

The interesting thing is that these sounds existed before movies. So is there a way to listen to music more intellectually? Poetry faces a similar, opposing problem. We expect words to primarily give us information. So words aren’t often associated with emotion.

It is interesting how we box each art form into such strict categories. There are analogies here to how we practice our spirituality. Music is used emotionally, rather than intelligently. Visual art is used as background rather than foreground. Words are used as the sole purveyors of truth rather than acknowledging their slipperiness and using them more emotionally.

I want a sermon from an art piece. And our prayers in music. We’ll use words for notices and for where the toilets are.

Lent 1 : Driven

Lent has started. So I thought that instead of giving up something I would actually do something. I’m going to try and put up a new piece of music every day of Lent and write a short reflection on the wilderness experience. The music will be mostly incomplete pieces and ideas which are yet to be developed.

The first piece is called driven. After Jesus’ baptism he was driven into the desert by the Spirit. From the amazing experience of being declared ‘My Beloved Son’, he is led into the desert. This is a recurrent theme in scripture. Amazing events followed by dreary wanderings and all kind of false realities are attractive possibilities.

The Israelites after their astonishing exodus from Egypt wander for 40 years. Moses their most esteemed leader, like the rest of his generation doesn’t leave the wilderness alive.

Israel, after settling in the land is afterwards sent into exile.

Jesus is driven into the desert.

The early church after their initial warm cosy existence are driven out of Jerusalem.

And yet most of our scripture is written in these times. Possibly being taken out of your comfort zone strips away the dross and gives you the chance to break your delusions. Luiza and I have experienced this twice now. It’s not comfortable nor romantic. I can’t fully accept or understand it.

The piece of music is written in quasi-glam-rock style. It’s fairly noisy and groovy but goes nowhere, ending in chaos.

Death of Rock

Interesting conversations in the death of rock. There’s a lament about the lack of rock in the charts and there is an optimistic view to what could be a sleeping giant.

I don’t think rock is ever going to have the same impact that it did over the last few decades. It’s simply not cutting edge enough.

Disclaimer: Writer is a cynical sceptic who listens to very little music and yet considers himself an authority on this subject. My four readers are hereby warned!

It’s not cutting edge in it’s sound. Though Muse has come up with a really cool brand of progressive rock with electronica elements I think that they remain a brilliant oddity. From the 60s to the 90s there were always new boundaries of sound being pushed both in production and instrument wise. I could be just an old whining crone but I think a lot of contemporary rock isn’t pushing boundaries.

It’s not cutting edge in what it’s about. Rock used to be at the forefront of political discourse and at the core of existential angst. Now it seems to be a shadowy anarchist commune filled with limericked rhetoric. Rock seems more about nostalgia than about having resonance with where culture is at and reverberating back out into the world where we all feel that we belong in our rage against institutions and our despair at our wormy little selfs.

It’s not at the cutting edge of attitude. Most rockers seem…. ahem…. quite nice. There aren’t any real bad boys. The nasty stuff is happening in hip hop and pop. Without that ‘badness’ how’re the teens gonna rebel?

Is rock dead? Obviously not. And neither does it rule the world in a commercial way that it did till recently. And in that way as Paul Gambaccini said it probably will go the way of jazz. Which is no bad thing. Other than it’s effect on the price of listening to it live.

Whadya think?


Have a listen to ‘Gone’ with the brilliant Phoeba Daniel singing on it. Click view original post below

Have a listen to ‘Gone’ with the brilliant Phoeba Daniel singing on it. It’s the top most track on orang-ish player on the right. Thanks Anurag for all that you did for it.