Saturday, January 28, 2017

Review of NSK by Volk

I listened to the track "NSK", by Volk.  The song starts out with horns heralding "good news."  The the melody settles into a predictable melody with a strong 4/4 beat, reminding me of John Phillips Sousa which is perfect for marching.

Because the melody is predictable it is a kind of pop anthem.  According to Adorno this kind of music would serve the status quo or existing order and because it serves an underdeveloped musical taste the song would not have a subversive effect.  Of course no one would want a subversive national anthem.  The whole point is to emotionally focus the listener on his/her proper place as a constitute member of the state. This song has a place in a video game.

I think that the marching cadence is important.  Whether one is actually marching, you can participate imaginatively with the image that you are marching along side the other citizens of NSK and are part of a group.  This is an example of music operating at the precognitive or corporeal level.  Or as Steve Goodman says, "....elementary pulses or throbs of experience constitutive of an aesthetic ontology."

Overlaying the simple marching beat is an "affective tonality" which is understood as representing the hope of belonging to a collective.  Similarly, Jaques Attai describes the orderly and pleasing music to be the "ministering angel" transforming anxiety into joy and dissonance into harmony.

The subversion, if any, here is that by offering a collection of National Anthems the listener can experience the music's call to collectivism in many different songs.  This undercuts the special appeal of your own national anthem.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Random Musical Intersections

Hello, my name is Mike Mallory.  My family had a phonograph player and my mother would play records, but I wasn’t much interested.  My first recollected encounter with music was in 3rd grade when my mother signed me up for the school orchestra playing the violin.  I wanted to play the trombone, but we already had a family violin and my parents said they couldn’t afford a new instrument.  I grew up in a middle-class culture, but still.  And I guess that my middle class environment included the cultural capital that included a school district that included music in the curriculum and the family expectation that music was part of education.

Through the violin I became acquainted and begin to enjoy American folk songs and later light classical music.  But my musical interests changed to rock n’ roll as a teenager growing up in the 60’s.  I put down my violin and picked up a guitar.  I never put the time into the guitar to make much music.  But my love of rock has stayed with me.

My family of origin was loosely Christian and started attending a Unitarian Church (on the liberal fringe of Protestantism).  Between the ages of 20 – 30, I didn’t attend church or participate in music making, although I have always enjoyed listening to music.

Around twenty I started to attend church again.  Once I was reengaged in a religious community I started singing in the choir.  I have been signing in the choir for the past 30 years.  Over my time with the congregation I have sung with the choir, sung in duets and trios, and sung solos.  Even after all that time my vocals are still not very well trained, but it can be powerful, so I try to emphasize passion over technique.

I also became engaged in a men’s group that had interests in both drumming and chanting.  I have done a lot of drum circle drumming and have a pair of hoop drums (one I made myself for deer hide) and a demi-conga.  Like my vocals, my percussion is pretty basic, but I do have respect and appreciation of African and Caribbean poly-rhythms.

My vocals at church presented a perpetual problem.  I wanted to sign a song and would need a guitarist to accompany me.  But it was always a hassle to arrange for the accompanist.  I have sung several Dyan tunes, a Stones song, Bob Marley and other folk and rock pieces.  I have also sung several duets with my wife, including “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz.  Because of the problems with getting someone to play guitar I bought a Ukulele and am taking lessons.  I have been playing my Uke for a year and practice daily.  So far I have accompanied myself in public three times:  Monster Mash, This Land is Your Land and When Soul Meets Body. My vocals and the violin were both single note instruments with the Uke I am working to learn chording theory.