Compelling


#1

Elk just mentioned this in a post on another thread, and I thought it merited a thread of its own.


#2

As I get older I have more and more appreciation of the finer parts of performances - e.g. all of the singers being on pitch (or the correct amount of off pitch) together or listening to, say, a flute in a symphony, or how singers bend pitch to express emotions. Things I didn’t perceive when I was younger.

I’m still moved by a good piano performance, by a great symphony or brass band. Also music that makes me laugh (say by drawing from unexpected sources.)

I’m also compelled by turning music up to realistic levels - some recordings are quite flat and uninvolving until they reach the proper levels - unfortunately these levels may not be good for hearing if sustained too long. Somehow a brief stint of loud music can clear my tinnitus for days at times. Since I’ve heard essentially continuous ringing in my ears for decades now a day or two off is very welcome, but probably not worth any additional hearing loss :slight_smile:


#3

Re: tinnitus - Ha! Well, it’d sorta be funny if it weren’t so true.

Re: pitch: Made me think of a musician friend who said, “I realized that what makes, for example, a good Marching Band, is the ability to play in time and on pitch”. Relatively rare to get a large group of musicians that can REALLY do that.

I recorded a local orchestra several times that was all volunteer (hence they couldn’t “fire” anyone) and it became painfully apparent that “Compelling” fell down as soon as X percent of the players weren’t playing in time or in tune.


#4

Another example just came to mind: the Lady in Satin album - it’s always been a moving performance for me - you can hear her life experience in every phrase.

Ray Ellis said of the album in 1997:

I would say that the most emotional moment was her listening to the playback of "I'm a Fool to Want You". There were tears in her eyes...After we finished the album I went into the control room and listened to all the takes. I must admit I was unhappy with her performance, but I was just listening musically instead of emotionally. It wasn't until I heard the final mix a few weeks later that I realized how great her performance really was

#5
badbeef said Re: pitch: Made me think of a musician friend who said, "I realized that what makes, for example, a good Marching Band, is the ability to play in time and on pitch". Relatively rare to get a large group of musicians that can REALLY do that.
If you like bands you might check out discs conducted by Lowell Graham. He was kind enough to give me a stack of them (he liked the DS :) )

I especially like the “Ira Hearshen: Strike Up the Band” album. Lots of humor well played.


#6

Re: Post 4: Right - one person’s compelling is another’s, “I don’t understand what you’re going on about”. When you have your Engineer’s Hat on, you’re focused on technicalities. “You didn’t execute that take/line/note as well as I know you could.”

When you’re listening as another human hearing the singer’s story, it has a better chance to speak to you - to be compelling. So much is dependent upon your state of receptivity.

“Also music that makes me laugh (say by drawing from unexpected sources.)”

That’s one of those things that the best musicians bring to it that I’ve always liked (at least this is my reading of what you’re saying) when they “quote” another tune/genre/whathaveyou effortlessly in the midst of playing a song.


#7
badbeef said Re: pitch: Made me think of a musician friend who said, "I realized that what makes, for example, a good Marching Band, is the ability to play in time and on pitch". Relatively rare to get a large group of musicians that can REALLY do that.
My wife and I were recently amused by reviews of a particular album (from Pentatonix, I don't remember the album), some people panned the performances because they claimed that the only way for them to be that in tune was with Auto-Tune. I guess people no longer expect (or respect) quality control of pitch :)

#8

Funny you should mention them - my college-age son has been into them for a while, and has turned me on to them. Some really nice stuff. And their singing certainly is super “pristine” with respect to pitch and “tight” rhythmically. I think I may have asked him before if he knew whether or not they used auto-tuning. He’s a fan, and so doesn’t think so. I would like to believe as well, because - well, one hopes not every act depends upon tech to sort their shit. I know though, that nowadays one can auto-tune seamlessly in realtime. And the less you’re out of pitch, the less AT has to “work”, and the more natural-sounding the correction will be - to the extent that it won’t be detectable.

Hopefully I will have passed on before my kids feel compelled to read my posts…

Also Hopefully, this won’t turn into “Mark and Ted’s Excellent Thread”. On the other hand, maybe we should start a podcast. : )


#9

Here they are doing fake Auto-Tune: “Daft Punk: Around the World/Digital Love/Get Lucky/Harder Better Faster”

And a version that shows that the audio isn’t processed or edited as much as you might think (0 electronics):

But when you hear/see them do other songs you can tell that they just sing well without gimmicks like Auto-Tune.


#10
Ted Smith said As I get older I have more and more appreciation of the finer parts of performances . . .
This. The small crescendo, the change of articulation, the change in timbre - all in the service of emotional expression.
A gorgeous performance of music by contemporary Norwegian classical composer, Ola Gjeilo. His setting of Ubi Caritas is spine-tingling beautiful, a must hear. It is only 3:30. And you get to follow the score.
This is a wonderful example of why I feel what is written in the score is only a small fraction of the music - hairpins, articulations, pauses, caesura, rubato, luftpause - none of which is in the score, but without these it is is barely music.
I recognize the choir and the interpretation. It is a college choir with which Gjeilo worked in creating this performance.

#11

Ola Gjeilo’s “North Country II” is always first on my listening tests. It’s great to listen all of the way thru and to appreciate the musicianship and harmonies of all the performers. (It’s available for free in various formats on the 2l.no HiRes Test Bench page.)

Since I’m a trombonist (not very good) I really enjoy “Blue Bells of Scotland” from the “The Virtuoso Trombone” album from Christian Lindberg: it has both very lyrical parts and technically challenging parts both of which are nice in their own right. The pianist is very good as well and does a fine job.


#12

I have heard the name Daft Punk, what kind of music do they play?

I find lyrics to be compelling. Songs that I can relate to, or bring back memories. The Jerry Garcia Band doing Dylan’s “A Simple Twist Of Fate” or “That Lucky Old Sun”.

Ben Webster playing ballads always touches me.

Good topic guys.


#13

Wonderful choices, Ted.

Christian Lindberg is amazing


#14

I am attracted to raw emotion in music. For me that largely means sad songs. “Depressing music” is what my daughter calls it. However, any powerful emotion in music does the trick. Wagner comes to mind.

Lyrics do not matter to me as much as the feel of the music or the pain in the voice. Similarly, the “craftsmanship” of the music is not the driving force for me. Instead, it is the emotion the music conveys. This is not to say I necessarily dislike a tight performance. Pink Floyd is an example of well crafted, compelling “depressing” music. On the opposite side of things, Neutral Milk Hotel employs musical imperfections, including flat out distortion, to convey the intended emotion of the song.

Johnny Cash always had a powerful voice, which was no less powerful when broken on his late American Recordings with Rick Rubin. His cover of NIN’s Hurt is one of the strongest songs of his career, arguably his strongest, and his voice was ravaged. But it was his ravaged voice that made to the song.

Anyway, that is what is compelling to me. It may be odd that I have spent thousands upon thousands of dollars over the years to capture a cracking voice or distortion from a guitar, but I like to hear those imperfections as intended. (And I do listen to other music too.)


#15

Can it be raw, uncontrolled exultation? Or must it be depressing, suffering?


#16

Any raw emotion is good, but something has to be the best or at least most compelling, and for me that is “pain songs.”


#17

If you want depressing, my favorite album would be the original version of Lou Reed’s “Berlin”. When I was younger if I was bummed, and wanted to stay that way, I would put on “Berlin”.

Another dark album, is the soundtrack to Twin Peaks - " Fire Walk With Me". A mix of instrumentals and vocals. Little Jimmy Scott does one song that is a little creepy in a good way. It is an album you would not want to listen to alone out in a cabin in the woods.

Above when we were talking about Lou’s “Magic and Loss”, Little Jimmy Scott appears on that album too.


#18

Jeff, thanks for the suggestions. I always liked Lou Reed’s Perfect Day for a good kick in the gut. I will check out Berlin.

As for Twin Peaks, I am a huge fan of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti. Fire Walk with Me is a special type of insanity. The movie is a trip–one of my favorites. If you like David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, watch The Straight Story. It’s a rated G, feel good movie. I think David Lynch did it just to prove he could. The soundtrack is also very good.

BTW, I took your advice from a few weeks ago. After purchasing a BHK 250, I expanded my budget to buy a BHK Pre. You said your motto was Iiving like you may be dead next week or something to that effect. Well, I had a heart attack a couple months ago. I was 45. Anyway, the money was not the issue in buying both the 250 and Pre. Since it was a self imposed budget, I decided to take your advice and live a little. It was good advice. Thanks.


#19

It’s a little bit of a sidetrack, but the Roy Orbison songs kind tie it together. The movie “Blue Velvet” directed by Lynch is a movie, everyone should see once. Dennis Hopper is as creepy as it gets.

My favorite movie of all time is “Barfly” with Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway. Charles Bukowsky did the screenplay. The dialogue is excellent. There are some fight scenes that are a little over the top, but otherwise a great dark movie. One of the few I actually own. Had it on VCR and finally tracked down a copy on DVD.

I’m glad you lived a little I would love to hear a BHK 250 in my system. Once again, did not win the lottery, so that ain’t happen’.

The big dog reminds me of the Target dog, just needs the red bullseye. I’m sure your Boston Terrier is a nice dog, my Aunt’s was. But my neighbor had one, she transferred the crazy. She couldn’t get out of her house, the door was jammed somehow. I got it open, went inside to take a look at it, and her Boston bit me in the arm, drew blood right through a jacket and sweater. I have just one, a lab mix, he is a great listening companion, and watch dog.


#20
I love Blue Velvet and Orbison's In Dreams. I own both. I use the last line of the Blue Velvet quote below on my wife at every opportunity, including last week. She, needless to say, hates it. Good times....

Frank: Raymond, where's the f^*k&n' beer man?

Raymond: It's right here Frank. You want me to pour it?

Frank: No, I want you to f^*k it. S%#t yes. Pour the f^*k&n beer.

FrankBooth.jpg

As for the dogs, the Boston Terrier, Boo, is the boss even though he is 1/3 the size and blind. The Bull Terrier, Tabascocat ("T-Cat"), is a complete clown and dumb as a box of rocks.