lauantai 5. maaliskuuta 2011

What is wrong with music today? Part one

There are not many pieces of music nowadays that are pleasant to listen to. I've tried to listen to something new on the radio, but when the song starts, a horrible sound starts coming out of the speakers. It's a sound that's full of different instruments and sounds from the computer. That makes it nearly impossible to hear the instruments by themselves. The song is too full of sound! What need is there to make the song so full of sound? Music is not about volume, but variation.

There is also something else wrong with the sound of new music. It does not sound real or authentic. Nor does it sound like it's live or alive. The sound sounds dead.

I admit that I haven't listened much to new music. And that is because I usually don't like how it sounds. But I've heard a plenty of new music because it's all around nowadays. It's hard to avoid.

Modern music is often very loud in a way. The tracks are often mixed as loud as possible. The quieter parts are mixed louder and the louder parts are mixed down somewhat. That makes the whole track sound loud, unnatural and like a constant stream of sound. By the way, I just read an interesting article concerning the sound of modern music. Its writer says: "I got distracted because it suddenly dawned on me that an awful lot of recent music, much of which I adore, sounds horrible."
Here is the link to the article:

and here's an other link to a wikipedia article:

Even Bob Dylan agrees that there's something wrong with the sound of new music. In a Rolling Stone Magazine interview he said: “You listen to these modern records, they’re atrocious, they have sound all over them. There’s no definition of nothing, no vocal, no nothing, just like – static.” Dylan also said that he doesn't know anybody who's made a record that sounds decent in the past 20 years. The year was 2006 when he said it.

However, it's not only the sound that's wrong with new music. It's also the songs. They are written by professional songwriters, not by the performers themselves. The lyrics rarely have any importance, if not for the sound. The meaning of the lyrics is not to tell something, it is to make the song sound good and cool. Something that tells about how small the importance of the lyrics is, is that they are often heard to hear. I think the lyrics should be audible, if they are of any importance.

I listened today to Spotifys Top list. The first song I heard was Born This Way by Lady Gaga. I didn't like it, so I changed to Firework by Katy Perry, also from the Top list. I enjoyd it for a while, but after a short listen to some other tracks of hers I got disturbed by the loudness of the music. It is full of different instruments and it's mixed loud thoroughly. Anyway, Katy Perry is one of the only new artists that are enjoyable to listen to. And ain't that something?

perjantai 11. helmikuuta 2011

Smithsonian Folkways

Warning! This article is pure advertisement.

I recommend everyone of you to listen to the great albums of the great label of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings! It is a nonprofit label of the national museum of the United States. If nonprofit record labels is what it takes to make good music, we shall have communism all over the world!

Smithsonian Folkways catalog of albums contains mostly albums of what many a man would call folk music nowadays. And there are some forgotten treasures indeed. The Smithsonian Folkways Recordings label was founded when The Smithsonian acquired Folkways Records in 1987 from the the Asch estate, with the condition to keep virtually all of Folkways 2,168 titles in print forever. All of the titles are still available for purchase and many of them are also on Spotify. I've been lately listening to many of them trough Spotify. I have made a playlist of 428 different albums of Smithsonian Folkways. So far I've listened to 42 of them. They were all great and 22 of them I considered to be so great that they are a must to listen again.

I started the listen with albums of sea songs, mostly sea shanties and foc'sle songs. The sea shanties were worksongs that were sung when working on sailing ships. The foc'sle songs were also sung aboard the sailing ships, but they were not worksongs. They were sung for pleasure in the forecastle where the sailors slept or in fine weather gathered near the fore bitts. The singing of sea shanties was led by the shanteyman that started off by singing alone and was in the chorus joined by the crew. I'll probably write a longer, more detailed article on sea shanties later. However, I will mention one shanteyman that should be known by all that are interested in sea shanties. He is Stan Hugill, the last working shanteyman.

One great album I can recommend is Classic Appalachian Blues from Smithsonian Folkways. But there are many more. Anyway, now I have to go to sleep.

keskiviikko 13. lokakuuta 2010

Blues Harp

This week I've been listening to some blues records, starting with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Robert Johnson and Son House. All of those are great. But today I happened to listen to Sonny Boy Williamson! What is so special with him is that he is very good at playing blues harp. He's the best I've heard yet, but I haven't heard much yet. I've played harmonica for almost a year, but I've only been inspired by Bob Dylan. That has been a big mistake... I haven't even learned to play that cross-harp style that's used when playing the blues. But now I will start to listen those great harp players. If you know any great harp player(s), feel free to comment here and make suggestions. I appreciate that.

Here's some Sonny Boy Williamson for ya. Sonny Boy Williamson – His Best
I think it's a great compilation. You really hear how great he plays the harp; better than Bob Dylan.

perjantai 8. lokakuuta 2010

Finally My Dusty Road by Woody Guthrie was in Spotify

My Dusty Road, the album that I had waited a year to hear was finally available to listen in Spotify.  Of course I started listening to it right away. When the first track "This Land Is Your Land" came on I thought that the sound quality really was as great as they had claimed. It was incredible. Never before had I heard a  clear sounding Woody Guthrie song. It was hard to stop listening to the album when I was about to go to sleep.

The recordings were found in 2003 by a Sicilian woman in Brooklyn. They had been in her basement.  The recordings were made in 1944 and are now released for the first time. Back then Woody recorded 125 songs in five days. 54 of them are on the four discs of My Dusty Road. The discs have different themes. The first, Woody's Greatest Hits contains some of his best known songs like "This Land Is Your Land" and Pretty Boy Floyd, but some hits are missing, for example "Do-Re-Mi" and "So Long It's Been Good To Know. The second disc is named Woody's Roots. It features traditional songs like "Buffalo Skinners" and "Stewball". "Woody the Agitator" is the name of the third disc that includes anti-fascist songs and union songs. The last disc "Woody, Sisco & Sonny" features Woody jamming and playing some songs with Cisco Houston and Sonny Terry.

My Dusty Road doesn't offer very much new from Guthrie, except for the sound quality that is remarkably better than on previous releases. There's also one never before released song called "Bad Repetation". The clear sound makes us hear, clearer than ever how great Guthrie was. Bob Dylan wrote in his Chronicles that Guthrie's voice was like a stiletto and that the way everything just rolled of Guthrie's tongue just about knocked him down. My Dusty Road is worth a listen if you like Woody, and who wouldn't like him after a listen?

Link to My Dusty Road in Spotify: Woody Guthrie – My Dusty Road