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November 30, 2012 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-11-30

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I's

8A - Friday, November 30, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

N ~t The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

MUSIC NOTEBOOK
Ranting against the
mainstream haters

MUSIC NOTEBOOK
Life-changing moments
at music festivals

Criticizing the
criticism of
electronic pop
By GREGORY HICKS
Daily Arts Writer
"(Insert modern music genre
here) is not real music!" shouts
19-year-old music expert John
Smith in his Musicology 101 class.
This is one of the most common
phrases to ever be uttered, heard
and overheard. Musical style
changes every decade, and with
those changes comes the same
argument.
Let's dispel the not-real-music
theory. A brilliant way to sum-
marize this concept comes from
musicologist Jean-Jacques Nat-
tiez, who said in his book "Music
and Discourse" that "the bor-
der between music and noise
is always culturally defined -
which implies that, even within
a single society, this border does
not always pass through the same
place; in short, there is rarely a
consensus."
Rarely a consensus indeed,
Mr. Nattiez. People have become
much too picky about their art.
Music is a genre that mostly deals
with pitches and rhythms, so to
say that something loses its art-
istrybecause ofa change in medi-
um - the medium being sound
- is silly.
"Electronic instrumentation
makes all music sound the same!"
bellows Katie Johnson, a listen-
er who only needs to hear two
whole songs on an album before
coming to a unique conclusion
like this. It seems as though many
people todayare gifted like Katie.
But something doesn't line up
here. If computerized instrumen-
tation has given artists access
to an almost infinite number of
new instruments, then why has
it become monotonous? It hasn't.
But the artists have, and that's
where the confusion appears.
Back in the day, a person could
expect jazzy pop from Frank
Sinatra and some rock from Sting
and the Police. Translate this
into the modern day. It would be
ridiculous if someone said, "Hey!
There was a saxophone in Frank
Sinatra's other song too. All of his
stuff sounds the same." Society
has become so spoiled by the new
abundance of possible sounds in
music that it has come to expect
no two sounds to be remotely
similar.
This drives music artists like
Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears
PARENTHOOD
From Page 7A
holder) is working at living day-
to-day with Asperger's Syn-
drome. In the sixth episode of
this season, "I'll Be Right Here,"
Max speaks honestly about his
autism, highlighting the ways
in which he struggles and suc-
ceeds at everyday tasks. Itsounds
like an after-school special, but
it's not: It's an eleven-year-old
enlightening us about a very real
disorder.
Hidden in these intense
moments are treasures that
depict an extended family that
will always have each other's
back, even though they usually

aren't on the same page. There
are family road trips, spousal
spats and times of young love
and heartbreak, all of which is
so beautifully acted and filmed,
it feels as though these events
have really occurred; that we too
are members of the Braverman
family.
I could go on and on about
poignant moments in "Parent-
hood," but I think the point is
clear. Unlike many other shows,
it doesn't exist to cause contro-
versy or be soap operatic in any
sense of the phrase. But it takes
similar concepts (romance,
heartbreak and adultery to name
a few) and discusses them on a
more humanistic level. A funda-
mental aspect of "Parenthood"
is its ability to convey ordinary
familial activities as just that,
without the flare that television
usually adds.
Take it from me: It's the best
show you're not watching.

Four out of five dentists recommend Crest instead of "a bottle of Jack."

and Ke$ha to end up with 50 peo-
ple trying to write and produce
their albums. Each song ends up
sounding completely different
from the next, making it hard to
distinguish the style that the art-
ist is going for - thereby, ironi-
cally, becoming pooled together.
"I have microphones and com-
puter software, so I don't even
need a record deal to make my
music!" says Cindy Lou Who
in excitement. "She has micro-
phones and computer software,
so she doesn't even need a record
deal to make her music," says her
friend Steve in horror when asked
about tone-deaf Cindy. America
is praised as the land of opportu-
nity, but there appears to be noth-
ing but complaint with regard to
the opportunities technology has
given to famous American music
artists. Words like "Auto-Tune,"
"overproduced" and "crap" are
often associated with artists who
have jumped on the electronic
bandwagon.
Auto-Tune is not some magical
gift from the gods that morphs
a person into a talented singer.
Think about the bigger picture.
The different bells and whis-
tles heard in songs are a typical
means to an end for supporting
someone's most notable qualities.
Katy Perry is a pretty face, Brit-
ney Spears is a performer (better
or worse at times) and Ke$ha is a
talented songwriter - even if you
don't always hear it.
These seem like poor excuses
for being a mediocre singer, but
here's the long-forgotten truth:
Musical artists were never the
greatest singers. Nobody listens
to the Beatles and says, "Damn,
those are some powerhouse
vocalists." They're great song-
writers and instrumentalists, but
not so heavy on the voices. Think
back to rock 'n' roll and real-
ize the voice was degraded long

before technology came around.
"This song reminds me of this
song, which sounds like this song
and that song," Preston Weaston
comments after spending too
much time on Pandora. Admit-
tedly, there is some truth in that
the producer has become the new
instrumentalist, thanks to the
disappearance of tangible instru-
ments in a track. There are many
famous music producers out
there, each with their own dis-
tinct sound. Timbaland has his
dark, thumping beats while Dr.
Luke has his mix of guitar with a
light dubstep. When the distinct
sound of a producer is heard on
the albums of six different artists
though, alot of fingers will point
to say that one singer is copying
the other.
Even though there's access to
an infinite number of potential
noises, they don't just fall out
of the sky. People work to engi-
neer them, and when it comes
to finding out what fits with a
song, there's a lot of throwing
paint against the wall to see what
sticks.
There's the additional element
of finding a singer's voice that fits
with the electronic style. Selena
Gomez is a good example of an
artist whose voice must be beaten
to death with processing effects
before it blends in with the genre.
And Rihanna is an example of a
voice that needs very little tam-
pering to fit in.
It's much more common for
a person to pick up an actual
instrument during their lifetime
than it is to generate electronic
music. Regardless, there is alarge
amount of effort involved and the
charts continually indicate that
people enjoy listening to it, so cut
down onthe "deathofmusic" and
"horrible quality" comments. Art
is already too full of opinions imi-
tating facts.

By ANDREW ECKHOUS
Daily Arts Writer
"48 inches, that's four feet! You
grew four inches this year!" my
pediatrician jubilantly informed
me. "You're so much taller than
I remember!"
That day at the doctor's office
was the first time I really thought
about change. I didn't feel any
bigger, but now this crazy lady
was telling me I was four inches
taller than last year? When had
my bones decided to start elon-
gating themselves, and how
hadn't I noticed?
I came up with a master plan
to catch my radius and ulna in
the act. I was going to mount a
camera above my bed and record
myself sleeping every night. If
I could capture my life on film,
then I could go back, watch it and
actually see myself grow, right?
My mom didn't much like that
idea. She told me that growth
was a slow process, and that the
changes were so minute that
they'd be impossible to see.
"Life isn't like a cartoon,
Andrew," she lectured. "Your
legs don't just extend in the mid-
dle of the night. I promise."
I was skeptical of her self-
proclaimed expertise. After all,
I didn't hear the doctor tell-
ing her that she had grown four
inches. She was probably jealous
that I was growing so quickly.
Unfortunately though, my mea-
ger earnings from raking the
leaves weren't going to cover my
astronomical camera costs, and
I decided to get really into Poke-
mon instead.
Years later, I find myself think-
ing about change again. My
growth in inches has come to a
halt, but as a person, I feel a little
less childish. By no means am I an
adult yet - my unmade bed, over-
flowing pile of dirty laundry and
dinner of macaroni and cheese

all poin
with my
looming
ready fo
Only
ourselve
we real
me, this
through
festivals
festival
graduat
my philc
G
SW
fror
As a
val virg
in Chic:
and the
kids, str
entered
ping t
neon-cl
to realiz
our elem
One
learned,
I probab
ing thos
days, n
essentia
can be.:
ing che
is a lot(
will tel
an hou
ing vod]
gluing t
indeed.
to avoid
cert sec
attempt
my bac
chalice:

t to the opposite - but our third lesson of the day: Never
foray into the real world leave your vodka-filled water bot-
ever larger, I'm close to ties ina Quizno's sub shop.
r the next step. The music is important, of
when we can measure course, why else would I be
es against ourselves can there? But when the rainy Bon
Ily see the change. For Iver show, the ostentatious
change is very apparent Snoop Dogg set and the seizure-
my experiences at music inducing Bassnectar laser-light
. I've attended at least one sweatfest ended, my experiences
every summer since my remained. These experiences
ion from high school, and extend far beyond Chicago,
osophy has changed alot. Detroit and Barcelona. I've met
wonderful new people, and real-
ized that some old friendships
needed to end. I've happily been
r n p the center of attention, and I've
rith music learned that sometimes it's satis-
fying to sit back and watch from
n Chicago to afar. I've been the leader of the
group, deciding which bands to
3arcelona. see next, and I've been a follower
that is happily, and sometimes
unsettlingly, outside of my com-
fort zone.
n 18-year-old music festi- The last festival I went to was
in, going to Lollapalooza Primavera Sound in Barcelona,
ago was a musical "birds and I could see a change manifest
e bees" talk. Six naive itself. Maybe it was the European
aight out of high school, atmosphere - more emphasis
a world filled with trip- on comfortable listening than
wenty-somethings and sardine-esque crowds - or the
ad college students, only incredible people th t I was with,
e that we were wayout of butI finally felt like Iknew whatI
nent. . was doirg. A few years of college,
of the first lessons I peppered with some unique peo-
was to plan ahead. I think ple, a six-month stint in Madrid
ly spent $90 on food dur- and a dumb mistake here or
e three scorching August there, had transformed me from
iot understanding how an unprepared festival rookie
i packing your own food into a grizzled veteran.
I also learned that sneak- Turns out my mom was right
ap booze into a festival about growth after all. I couldn't
easier than the brochure see it while it happened, but
1 you. We spent about somehow I've become a margin-
r surreptitiously pour- ally functional human being. I
ka into water bottles and never did end up catching my
hem shut, a genius plan bones growing, but it doesn't
However, we never had take a genius to know that they
the prying fingers of con- did, and the same can be said for
urity, as the fingers never growth as a person. And I think
ed to pry. Upon opening that knowledge is a little cheaper
kpack to drink from the than installing cameras in my
of drunk-tory, we learned room.

4
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