Musical Interpretation

It’s kind of funny how we all perceive music differently.   One person hears a song one way, while another person hears the exact same song completely differently.  I sometime wonder if I’m weird.  I sometime wonder what is it in me that hears beauty in music when so many others find no pleasure at all. (or vice versa)

There are really two reason I bring this subject up.  One of which just happened Saturday night while the other that has happened about 5-10 times over the past few years.

On Saturday Night Live this week, the band Sleigh Bells was the musical guest.  I was super excited to watch them perform.  I’m not really big into twitter, but once and a while I log in to see what is trending, or to post a random comment.  (my blog always post updates there)  I was surprised to see that 95% of the comments were bad mouthing the performance.  I was actually hard to find comments that were good.  I went back today to watch the performance and I still think they did a great job.  I guess I can see with these guys how they wouldn’t really get to many mainstream followers.  They are what best be described as over powered pop rock.  The guitars are turned up to 11 (haha) and the locals are only at about 6.  Certainly one of the biggest complaints I heard was about the vocal mix, although I’m sure these same people weren’t aware that it was mixed that way on purpose.  In any case most people didn’t consider it music, or said it was just noise, while I was thinking man that FN rocked.

The other more long term example of this comes from my favorite band Radiohead.  I play music when ever and where ever I can.  My life doesn’t like to go long intervals with out music.  I have had the opportunity to play music while working at various jobs along the way.  I know I drive people with some of the stuff I listen to, since I do listen to such a varied style of music.  Well, of coarse Radiohead get played in one of these public forums from time to time, and it never fails that someone will come up and ask “How can you listen to that?  It sounds so sad.”  This comment is so absurd to me! Radiohead sad?  Really?  When I hear Radiohead I hear nothing but uplifting joy.  I have actually envisioned a beautiful sunrise rising above the ocean waves while listening to them.  I hear nothing but beauty.  Sadness? I still don’t get it, but there must be some sadness in the music, for at least 4 different people (some in different states even) have said these exact words.

So all it come down to is personal interpretation.  How one hears a song obviously varies from person to person.  I guess that what make the world interesting.  If we all heard the same thing there would be no need for art (or this blog).

What do you think about these above songs?

2 thoughts on “Musical Interpretation

  1. Art was meant to disturb.

    I like both videos and songs. I think there has been a war on music as art in the U.S. for at least the last 20 years now. I’d actually go back as far as the early 1970s on this idea. I blame the record executives. They want something that’s guaranteed to sell millions. They don’t want to take a chance on an “artist” or anything that’s even slightly “unusual”. 1960s bands like Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, Hendrix or the Stones (60s version) wouldn’t stand a chance today no matter how great they were. So that means it’s either repackaging what’s known to have sold before (i.e. ironically “classic rock”) or cookie cutter American Idol music. There has definitely been a dumbing down of the masses and our willingness to accept something that might be avant garde or a little off the wall. Everyone must have perfect pitch and follow a formula. A reflection of the dumbing down of our country as a whole, I think.

    We always need the Brits or French to save us from being complete art idiots. We need another British invasion in the U.S. music industry. That’s happened more than just the mid-60s, you know.

    Sad songs can be beautiful. Take Lucinda Williams for example. She paints some beautiful images with her lyrics. Same goes for Townes Van Zandt. These are two of the best U.S. song writers ever. Just listened to Lucinda’s “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” CD this weekend for the first time in a long time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s