Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The Highest Form of Flattery

In this time of great change and progress, it is comforting to know that there are still a few things that have not changed. Especially so, if there was not anything particularly faulty about them to begin with. An encouraging example of this periodic preservation is the time-honoured tradition of song sharing. The notion off sharing musical compositions has existed from the very beginnings of recorded music. In point of fact, where it not for what are now known as ‘cover songs’, the early 20th century recording industry would have barely existed at all. Even as late as the 1990s 'cover versions’ of compositions came to be more widely known and better regarded than the original incarnation. A prime example of this the ditty ‘I Go Blind’. Originally done by the Canadian minstrels known as 54-40, the tune became better known in the version devised by Hootie and the Blowfish. At least in the colonies. Since the initial imposition of social and political issues onto the digital speakers-corner referred to as ‘social media’, there have come to be jokes about when YouTube was just for ‘chatty vlogs, amateur musicians and cute cat videos’. Despite this being meant somewhat sardonically, there is also a grain of truth to it. There have long been amateur and later professional musicians who have utilized the ‘video-sharing’ site as a means of trying to build a career. A the is also a great deal of variety. 

There has also come to be an increase in the types and styles 
of songs being utilized for ‘cover’ versions. Many of the covers done by

Ms. Stirling and her compatriots such as cellist Tina Guo and the string quartet String Theory, revolve around popular culture. Particularly that in the Science-Fiction and Fantasy genres. Another interesting tendency materializing in the world of cover musicians is the notion of willfully crossing genres. The classical cello quartet Apocalyptica, for example, specialize in covers of ‘Heavy Metal’ songs by Metallica, Motörhead and Pantera among their contemporaries. This also extends to independently based musicians such as the grand Lady Morwen who does a transcendent rendition of "Keelhauled" by Alestorm and Lady Chugun who manages to make ‘Metal’ and
'Punk’ scores work for the accordion. An achievement on par with executing a banjo-driven Hip-Hop track. A heroic feat only Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer has managed to achieve.

A chap who is greatly changing changing things is the pianist  Scott Bradlee. The founder and leader of Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. An ever shifting group of like-minded melody aficionados who assist Mr. Bradlee in his ambition to expand musical horizons in the culture at large. As Mr. Bradlee explained during his ‘TEDx’ lecture entitled ‘A Bizarro World of Pop Music’, when queried as to what sort of music he 
preferred, he would respond ‘a bit of everything’. Despite this feeling a bit too easy. Until, that is, he realized the fact that ‘all songs are just songs.’ Sets of words and melodies that can be arranged in any manner one wishes. Essential rendering the very notion of ‘genres’ arbitrary at best. A notion he goes on to prove by doing Jazz renditions of songs from nearly every known genre. Closely with Mr. Bradlee and his Postmodern Jukebox is the Jazz singer and pin-up model Robyn Adele Anderson. Even more greater in her ambitious than Mr. Bradlee, Ms. Anderson is even more bold in terms of her experimentation. Her mos gobsmacking experiments include a Big Band version of Shakira’s ‘Whenever, Wherever’ in fluent Spanish and an unbelievable, in the most literal sense, Swing version of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.

The outlook is no longer quite so dismal once was in terms of the financial aspect. Despite a few shenanigans in the beginning, the pay structure as related online material has been

more or less standardized by systems like Patreon. It is still very much a situation in which some will succeed and others will fail, more or less like the traditional structures. Only now there are no ‘gate-keepers’ aside the consumers who decide that for which they are willing to pay out and creators succeed or fail on their own merits.

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