Mar 6, 2009

Long time no see, right? At least Duet Yourself-wise...
I barely had the time to double-click on a music app lately, due to increasing Duet Yourself-irrelevant issues that I have. But I did stumble across this very nice little app that turns You Tube into a potencial mega sample bank. And it's free, so file it under Sheep-DAW.
I think (but I'm not sure) it was Woody Allen who said that people should create art about things they intimatelly know about. YouTube and internet videos are such a part of our lives and of our sound world, that it becomes only natural to use it as part of our creative work.
I've been into watching cigarette ads, lately. Portugal was one of the first countries in the world to ban tobacco advertising, so it seems to me like such an extraordinary thing to be able to watch these gems of vintage marketing. I've been a smoker for a long enough time to have my own experience-based ideas about smoking and cigarettes, so I'm sort of imune to the ideas yielded by tobacco marketing. To me, tobacco marketing becomes a sort of abstract marketing, wich is fascinating. Their naive discourse is not any different from, say, a toothpaste ad from the same era and that is what's so obscene about it: people openly endorsing tobacco on prime time television reveals not only a time and place where values were completelly different but also shows us how marketing will always capitalize on a moral paradigm, whatever that will be. In revealing the mercenary nature of advertising, these ads become almost subversive. The portrayal of men, women, moral values, sexual atractiveness or social sucess reveals an underlying ideology so far-off of the political correctness of today that it astounds us that only a few decades have gone by.
I seem to be drifting a bit off-subject here but cut and paste techniques in whatever art form are great ways of exploring this contrast. For example, in Music has the right to children, Boards of Canada based their aesthetics on vintage children's TV to create a very appealing contrast between old and new. I'm not encouraging anything illegal, but please do check out these cigarette ads in a (cough!) musical way: Kool, John Player Special, more Kool, Salem, Kool again, Winston, Newport or Peter Stuyvesant. Check the related videos and you'll just keep getting more of them. A jingle is a very expressive and invocative piece of music, in an almost haiku-like way. Some of them work, some of them are just down right ridiculous, some of them work in a down right ridiculous way but they're all infectious and there's a compositional lesson to be learned here. The simplicity and directness of the music is also sort of subversive, not only because of what it endorsses but also in the sense that it does away with non-imediate music wich is the pop paradigm taken an extreme. The lullaby-ish flavour of jingles hit you below the rationale belt and the imediate recognizability of these pieces of music is a must.
So, what I am suggesting here is a structuralist approach (Hjelmslev style, if you will): download these for your own private (cough!) educational use and dissect these songs until you find the patterns. For an example, I noticed that these songs use that sacred rule of having something drastically changing in every bar, but the melody of the next bar usually kicks in during the rythmic fill of the previous bar - this is very clear in the lady be Kool song - it's almost like there's an interest on keeping the music appealing and with permanent novelty but without compromising a certain needed flow. In this song, there's also a semi-tone climb for momentum's sake, during the repetition of the whole pattern - novelty vs flow again. This ad relies so oubviously on the jingle, that the voice-over spoken word is just plain absurd, almost surrealistic, as if it's existence (a masculine voice saying something) is all that is required.
The semiotics of functional music, especially on a medium like TV, are very revealling of today's compositional paradigms. And with that little app, YouTube is yours for the (audio) taking.

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