What would slow music be?
A relevant aspect of slow food, per wikipedia, is that:
It claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an ecoregion.
So local musicians and styles. Does that mean garage rock in Boston, hair metal in LA, and hardcore in DC? Here’s a gurdonark comment on the previous post:
I went last Saturday night to our local library auditorium, where the friends of the library sponsored a really fine jazz harpist doing arrangements of holiday songs, and the local symphony chorus did a selection of international songs of the various seasons. The arrangements and skill on display where amazing.
On the other hand, I saw on public television a major-label ensemble do a bombastic holiday special which was amusing in its scope, but ultimately entirely pre-packaged and non-local.
Maybe there’s an asshole factor. The musicians have to be pretty damn great, but the point isn’t to get arena rock musicians to come over for dinner. Having Axel Rose come over to mooch beers is probably a drag.
The World Institute of Slowness has an Alan Watts vs South Park mashup on slow music:
I dunno, though, man. The whole thing seems like it’s pining for the past.
One thing I’ll say about my own (living history) music, anyhow: it’s slow. The edits that most musicians make with software, I do with practice and retakes. If I want a section to be rounder or sharper I need to find a way to get my hands to do it in real time, and then I have to get enough repetition in that I’ll keep doing it when I’m on stage. If I’m making a recording I have to keep doing takes until I get one with all the details the way I want them to be. It makes me think about life in the olden days.
One thought on “slow music #2”
This slow music stuff has been really resonating with me as well, but for a different reason. I’ve been in a transitional mode lately. With my band breaking up, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make music a permanent and personal part of my life for the long term. For me that’s going to mean shifting away what energy I put into the “enterprise” side of music — i.e. the energy you spend on organizing, promoting, distributing, and maintaining your music — to move more fully into artistic development, i.e. trying to make deepen and broaden my experience of making music. This means working with more people and trying to develop new skills and interest in new styles with an eye towards making music that satisfies more of my diverse taste and interests.
Being in a band, no matter how much creative integrity it has, is always significantly about practical things: working together in a way that keeps everyone happy, moving things along on the level of gigs, recordings, and recognition in a way that makes everyone feel productive, etc. While I still want to make collaborative music and I still want people to hear what I make, I’m starting to become more interested in these things only insofar as they help me stir loose more of the music that’s trapped in my head. I want to think more about how to consistently make recordings that surprise and stretch me than anything else.
And this means having to commit to a much slower rate of progress. Instead of having short term aims that sometimes provide immediate rewards (finishing the next record, booking the next gig, applying for the next festival), this looks to be a creative life of gradual accretion of finished work. The kind of life where the reward is looking back at a growing catalog of divergent pieces to retrospectively some kind of growth or change.
Ironically, this seems to me to be a kind of slowness for which the internet might be a great help. I can record songs and stick them online. As I finish more, the archive will slowly expand. And since they’ll be perfectly discoverable, whoever is interested in them over the years will be hopefully find their way to them. A great recent example that reminded of this was a local music journalist finding some old great songs by a friend, and one of my favorite Portland bands, Dragging an Ox Through Water: http://localcut.wweek.com/2008/12/08/dragging-an-ox-through-water-aces-rebukes-7/ The song she’s writing about was originally posted on my site, Music For Dozens, almost exactly three years ago. If things stick around on the web long enough without going down, some people who will love them will find them.
And that can be enough.