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MMD > Archives > March 2002 > 2002.03.06 > 07Prev  Next

Quality of Music Roll Arrangements
By Craig Brougher

I think that Harald Mueller's personal estimation of several
reproducing rolls yesterday on MMD is a good way for others to learn
how they too can listen to music.  I thought that his evaluation was
pretty good.  Liking music is a personal thing, and should not be
determined by what somebody else -- even a musician -- says that you
should like.  Musicians also disagree, but there are principles that
they all agree on, too.  Liking music is one thing.  But _really_
liking music involves intellectual and analytical reasons too, why you
especially like certain arrangements or songs.  You should know what
it is that attracts you, and why you keep coming back to it to hear it
again.  The more you know, the better you will enjoy it.

For instance, Harald mentioned that any sort of ornamentation that is
there just to fill a gap in the music will sound out of place -- in
this case, without a ritard to show the listener the reason or to set
it off from the rest of the piece.  All arrangements have weaknesses,
but that isn't the criteria.  It's the overall affect and a desire
elicited by the music to hear it again and again.  The more intuitively
you listen to good music, the more you learn.  It talks to you.  It
speaks things to you that you can hear nowhere else.  It also paints
a picture.

Everything in a musical arrangement must have a good reason to be there
and must integrate fully with the entire "purpose" or philosophy behind
the way in which it was arranged.  Some of the finest piano
arrangements of the era appeared in music rolls since some of the
finest ragtime and show biz musicians conductors and arrangers who have
ever lived were doing it, and arranging thousands of pieces for very
little money at the time.  Arrangers were a dime a dozen back then and
competition was keen.  I would not doubt that possibly one out of six
children in high school played an instrument in the late 1920's and
perhaps into the early 40's, and perhaps one out of 30 played a piano
well enough to accompany for church choir practice.  Today, I doubt
that one out of 600 could do that, maybe one out of 1000.

I think that if our generation today knew more about music, they would
appreciate it more.  Speaking generally, modern Rock, Rap, and Country
has been so uncreative, jaded, and boring that I don't see how people
with a musical bent can stand it.  As far as Rock goes, I have never
seen a musical genre in general so stifled with a lack of musical
talent (demonstrated), a total lack of creativity (except for the light
show), and the need to go to gimmicks and shock effects with lyrics to
get somebody's attention.  "Oh I can't believe he actually said that!
I gotta have the CD!"  Duh.  Wouldn't the kids flip out if one of the
tunes did something awesome, like changing the key on the second verse?
Talk about blowing their fuses.  Trouble is, the "musicians" probably
aren't good enough.  They can only do that with electrical switches
today, and never in the middle of their tune.

It might be hard to realize, but they used to hold an audience
spellbound with great music, great lyrics, true artistry, sometimes
brilliant choreography and yes, beautiful stage sets (but often as not,
no stage sets).  And they are still showing the reruns 60 years later.
Talent is timeless.  They didn't need offensive crudeness, shock
lyrics, smoke and riser stands, fireworks, lasers, and speaker systems
that make your ears ring for hours, with half-naked guitarists and an
orgasmic pantomime on stage to get your money.  The music is just the
excuse, not the thing.  I really feel sorry for our kids.  What do they
have?  They will never know what "great" is, as long as they keep
seeking "bigger, louder, worse, and worst."

Craig Brougher

(Message sent Wed 6 Mar 2002, 16:32:38 GMT, from time zone GMT-0800.)

Key Words in Subject:  Arrangements, Music, Quality, Roll

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