D_dup3 Posted December 7, 2002 Share Posted December 7, 2002 Cliches take a place in language that tends to gloss over the actual idea one intends to express. That in itself is bad enough since this puts us at a remove from the situation/idea. We begin to respond to flash-card symbols rather than the singular reality of a situation. Eventually our responses become artificial too, even though they may seem genuine to us & even to others. This becomes even worse when cliches which do not even make any sense in their origin become standard references. Two examples which are really grating to me lately are "like fingernails on a chalkboard" & "lock & load". The first intends to describe a particularly ugly sound [i]but the noise to which it refers is not made by fingernails at all but by chalk squeaking on a blackboard[/i]. Just try making that sound with your fingernails! The second is a "get ready" rallying cry but any chamber or device must be loaded [i]before[/i] it's locked or it can't be loaded. However this cliche got started is beyond reason...maybe it rhymed with something. :rolleyes: Why do I bring this up here? I like well-rehearsed & sharply executed performances; they can be stunningly effective. I also like to improvise. How often do you find someone (perhaps even yourself) depending on a standard device or trick to convey a musical idea that fails because they rely on a cliche? I'm not talking about obvious things like major=happy/minor=sad or fast=exciting/slow=serious, although those are limiting enough. Nearly daily I encounter some player who thinks that musical knowledge is reducible to which scale to play with a given chord, ignoring that contexts---melodic, harmonic & especially emotive---are a fluid mixture...unless you like formulaic artifice instead of art. I know of a young artiste who can barely play [i]any[/i] scale but considers themselves capable of writing songs. Yesterday they asked what chords "make" the blues. Imagine: they are so unfamiliar as to have no recognition of what makes this most common (yet most expressive) form in American music but they thought that if someone gave them the rules they could knock off a blues tune that afternoon! It goes beyond this, too. Do you know engineers that automatically dial up certain EQ settings for types of music before they hear anything or even know the band's make-up? A good friend of mine---himself a musician---uses a software sequencer to time-shift drum parts [i]as a whole[/i] because this will establish a certain feel...despite the easily shown fact that players actually vary note/beat placement continuously inside a measure & at different sections of a piece. Sometimes this sort of thing is a shortcut that's drawn from experience but other times it's just what someone reads in Modern Recording. They find the formula for recreating what Eddie Kramer or George Martin or Tom Dowd did on a one-time basis with their just invented tube driven gear & think, "Here's the ticket! Let me just program these digital settings & I'm [i]locked & loaded[/i]" Don't misunderstand, I like modern technology. A drum machine can be very expressive when programmed by a thoughtful person who remembers that the essence of music is [i]nuance[/i]. I encourage everyone to try to remember this...because the next time somebody tells me my wailing free-form ring-modulated guitar solo sounds like "fingernails on a blackboard" I'm liable to [i]"go postal"[/i]! ;) Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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