Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Love Symphony Update

I've been working on my new album Love Symphony since the start of the year. It's largely complete now after lots of struggles. The problem of the old opening was intractable; originally I had one track which I disliked so added a second, then incoporated elements of the first into that and added a third but even those weren't up to scratch. I got rid of all of them and wrote a completely new opening.

The inspiration came from the baroque. I'll never surpass Beethoven, and nobody could, but by referencing Bach and Handel someone might produce some alternative Beethoven-universes. I much prefer melodic music, and I like complexity too, multiple melodies playing at once, but not so much that an average listener can't pick out and remember each melody. In some ways the antithesis of Mahler, although he often touches Bach full circle. Music exposes all of the elements of psychology. The opening needs to be good, and the ending because those parts stick in the memory most. The middle needs some jarring to wake people up. I've often wondered about the third movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony because I often drift off during it, waking up at about the twelve minute mark when a sudden stab of pain occurs. I wonder if that was the very idea.

I can't help but stir things up. No relaxation. No old person pleasant watercolours. No Eno. In my painting as well my music I can't help but add little bits here and there, and not produce a mood to encourage the zombie-state of "ambience". Ambient music is not art any more than old person dog paintings. Music should make you feel and demand attention. That's why I like Beethoven. It was impossible, impossible! For that 3rd movement to exclude stab.

So, to avoid the traps of electronic music I've had to vary pacing. The mind responds to the new. Originality is usually more highly praised in art than self-expression or skill or beauty, and this is partly because the mind responds to the new, to changes, and in music the pitch can change. Also the key can change, and this music includes more key changes than I normally add. In fact, I've hardly added any in the past. Music can also change in volume and power, in timbre, and in tempo. Tempo variation is the thing that music computers have rigorously and violently genocided in the last twenty years, and yet it can add so much. Lack of tempo changes and electronic drummers are explicit reasons why modern pop music isn't as good as music used to be.

For my last track then, which is ironically the first on the album, I began with a chord change sequence, like the growing parts in Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I crafted a melody and a counter melody over the top. I feel much better at doing this now, after a month of struggles, than I was at first. It's typical that just as I'm getting the hang of it that I'll have to swtich back to painting! The melody ended at a higher key than it began, and so the melody can chain and ascend forever, thus expressing searching. The track is called "There is no love, and the more I search the less I find."

At one point the melody tried to cresendo on A, for an F-major, but that expected chord isn't there, also representing the search. At the end of a few iterations with increase in intensity, the tune collapses in failure and falldown. A second, much simpler, tune appears and the same thing happens, and after a few explorations of trying different combinations, the tune gives up in failure. All of this is very melodic and pretty, but it's the changes in tempo and collapses, essential artistic components, that rise it above composers like Vangellis, a very passionless composer.

I'd better stop before this becomes an essay. More later... Meanwhile, here is a glimpse of the cover art so far.


John Salmon said...

Sounds very interesting Mark. Like the cover design.

Mark Sheeky said...

It's my obsession at the moment! I already want to paint again. I haven't painted a thing since November, my longest break since 2006!