Monday afternoon I was walking home after a very late lunch. Is a meal eaten at 1630 a late lunch or perhaps an early dinner? I noticed a poster of a tattooed arm on a wall. The text was:
A Tattoo is a lifetime mark. Have it done by a Tattoo artist.
Aside from the fact that the sales pitch was obviously directed towards tourists, because English, I understood the sentiment.
My mind immediately wondered how long it would take until a robot can give you any tattoo you want? It would have a searchable data base of tattoos – probably easily obtained by going through Instagram posts – and would be able to adapt any photo you might give it.
Then I changed Have it done by a Tattoo artist to Listen to Music by Real Musicians, in my mind.
We have sayings like You are what you eat to show that we should be mindful of what we put into our body. In computer science there is the term GIGO – garbage in, garbage out.
Music is a type of food. Some music sticks around in your body for much longer than food does. Some music seems to ferment and develop and it can change us fundamentally. Perhaps we will need an *Organic* sticker for music, now that AI has already produced as many songs as humans have ever created. *Made by Humans* or *Human Music*? What would you suggest?
I don’t usually listen to pop music. It’s not part of my diet. ;-) But sometimes it sure can make you smile: as the sales person at El Corte Ingles was writing up the vacuum I wanted to purchase, I noticed that she was soundlessly mouthing words… and they seemed to be in English! Then I got the connection: a pop song was playing on the store’s sound system. I recognized the song but could not tell you what it is called or who recorded it. Eighties, maybe??? The song and her lips were in sync. I had to smile, because I had that experience with Sweet dreams are made of this just a few days ago, when I heard the song waft through an open window and started singing along, realizing that I knew most of the words.
And the company that delivered this feat is led by a someone who studied Jazz Bass in college… A bass player. This is odd, I always liked bass players. They seem reasonable, grounded, solid. They don’t seem like somebody proud of letting machines make 100 million songs.
Read the linked article and let me know what you think.
But there’s no secure place for magic or metaphysics in a trillion-dollar marketplace, and such fragile connections run counter to the production-on-demand requirements of any global industry. This is the attitude expressed by the CEO of Spotify when he told musicians that they are to blame for their poor earnings on the platform—because they weren’t releasing songs fast enough. From the perspective of a streaming platform, it would be better (or at least more profitable—which, for them, boils down to the same thing) if AI made the songs. Musicians are just a bloody inconvenience. But how did we arrive at such a dehumanized attitude to music?
I chose to turn around and walk the other way. Away from what is becoming a race to the bottom… and once that bottom has been reached one can descend even further with the help of AI. No, I am going to make the turn towards art. Scarce, unique, special is what I am aiming for. I have some ideas for special packages, too. They might not be as elaborate as the limited edition La Semana package, that won awards, but they will be personal, home-made and very small, individually signed editions.
That is the sketch I began yesterday evening. Something sounded wrong last night and I couldn’t figure it out right away. Then I watched the excellent movie Tár (LINK – wikipedia), which I started the night before… And then it came to me, my melody contained an A over the F minor chord and that created the awfulness, of course. I knew the note had to be an A flat and then I couldn’t go to sleep because I wanted to hear this change. I didn’t want to start up everything in the middle of the night but as a result I couldn’t fall asleep until after 0300.
This section will become the chorus and the piece still needs some kind of verse… but the bones are there. Doesn’t feel at all sad to me. Uplifting actually.
Backstage is almost ready and you will be able to continue to witness the process there…. soon.
Oh, and the movie Tár is most excellent. A comment on excellence but also on power and the effects of cultural prejudices. There is much to say about the film. The performances are excellent. The film is gorgeous. The writing, however, is what’s amazing. Much is brought up but little judgement is made, leaving it to us, the viewer, to figure it out for ourselves.
Yesterday afternoon I decided that the arpeggio felt too fast and re-performed it at half the speed. Much more languid now. I love how little things can entirely change the feel of a pice of music.
The progression begins with Am, the relative minor chord in C. The next chord is D, which is outside the key of C. It’s a secondary dominant, the V chord in the key of G. In European classical music, this chord would typically lead to G, which would then resolve to C. However, this is not what Kalinnikov does. Instead, he follows D with Fm. This is another chord from outside the key; it’s borrowed from parallel C minor. Kalinnikov set you up to expect a move toward the sharp side of the circle of fifths, but instead he goes several steps over toward the flat side. The last chord is the tonic C. Kalinnikov gives the chords some extra flavor by repeating the notes E and C over all four of them. These notes are chord tones in Am and C, but they create colorful extensions on D and Fm, turning them into D9 and Fm(maj7) respectively.
I naturally found the title very intriguing and started arranging something, using that chord sequence, earlier today. Will record my ideas tonight. Didn’t listen to the samples and will wait to hear them until I am done with my recording using the same chords. I don’t even know the tempo or how quickly the chords change.
If you didn’t know, melodies are copyrighted but not chord changes. Thousands (millions?) of songs use the same chord changes.
Oh, and by themselves the chords don’t sound very sad to me. But I may have a high tolerance for sad music. 😄
This time I scheduled my flights so I would have over six hours between arriving in Philly on my national flight and leaving on my international flight, because in March I had only three hours between flights and American Airlines managed to delay my national flight so much that I had to run between terminals and barely made my flight to Lisbon. There is a nice Amex lounge in terminal A and I don’t mind waiting… And yet, and yet, American Airlines managed to get me to Philly late again, and yes, I had to run again. Planning a six hours layover is crazy enough, but now that’s not even sufficient?
ENT doc gave me a prescription for a cream last week. Used it once and it made my ears well. During the flight I listened to Rain Poems on my AirPods Max at least four times all the way through. I probably used the headphones for six hours altogether and my ears are still clear. The album is coming together nicely and I really enjoyed the experience. I have a couple of melodies to finish and Jon has a few bass parts to record but it’s not long now. This is my first album record with the new mobile set up and the first album NOT recorded in my studio in Santa Fe since 1995. Oh, that’s not entirely true… most of Pedals On the Path was recorded at Jon’s studio, but I mixed and mastered it at mine.
Lisbon is hot during the day but cools off nicely during the night. The trick is to get up early because at 0600 it is 65ºF. At 0700 I walked a little over four miles and didn’t get lost. A few times I wasn’t sure where I was but at this point I just have to keep going in a direction and I will eventually find a landmark I know. Look ma, no GPS.
Watched the first half of the movie Tár last night. Wow. If the second half keeps up with the first, this is an amazing movie!!
In a statement accompanying the teaser trailer in August 2022, Field said that he wrote the script for Blanchett, and that he would not have made the film if she had declined it.