Archive for April, 2011

A Sign of the Times

Posted in Music on April 14, 2011 by Niveous

Times certainly are changing. Today, ABC announced the end of All My Children and One Life To Live. Those two soap operas were among TV’s longest running shows and now they are being cancelled in favor of some new talk shows: one about food and alternately one about weight loss. Neither sounds like it’ll last the test of time. One of them is the brainchild of JD Roth. None of his good ideas last (anyone remember Endurance aka Survivor for kids?).

I was never a OLTL watcher but I did have a stint watching AMC (back in the days of Sarah Michelle Geller and Keith Hamilton Cobb). Why did a soap connect with me? Because I enjoy serialized storytelling. I like watching the long term evolution of characters. Look at some of the other things I enjoy. I am one of the biggest prowrestling fans that you will ever meet. Prowrestling is serial storytelling in an athletic setting. I also love comics. The three things are all intertwined by the way they tell a story.

So what does this have to do with music? Nothing… but why not? As soon as I heard that AMC and OLTL were ending, I was upset. The demise of the soap opera is taking away from a form of serialized storytelling and there aren’t that many platforms. In this age of instanteous information and youtube; the idea of dragging out character development can be very passe. Sure, there are still tv shows but they have seasons. Serialized storytelling creates characters that grow along with the audience. You don’t have to speed through a storyline because you have a season finale on the horizon. There isn’t a season finale, your characters just go and evolve.

Episodic, serialized, whatever you call it, it’s definitely something I love. I have written some prose pieces that have been built so that I can come back and continue writing more and more and see how the characters evolve. Now I am wondering if that concept can somehow be put into music?? More on this later…


Can Niveous find his way?

Posted in Music on April 12, 2011 by Niveous

I know my posts have been fewer lately but that’s because I’ve been so deeply enthralled mentally by the puzzle laid out in front of me that I struggle to express it all. Here’s where I’m at right now.

I came up with an idea for what is essentially a concept album. For the sake of easy typing, I’ll be referring to the album as TAS in the rest of this post. What does TAS stand for? Never you mind that detail. So, I came up with the TAS idea and figured that this needs to be a marriage between my music and my prose, almost a soundtrack to a story. So I began writing and got about 1500 words in and then tried to write a song to go along with those 1500 words and the pieces just didn’t fit.

I’ve done concept albums before such as Zinkline’s “Grace of a Car Crash” which is the story of a political assassination that is the first domino leading to the end of the world. The thing is, that was very abstract. Each song I wrote for that album could stand on its own. With TAS, this is a story with very defined characters and a world of its own. I feel like the song has to evoke those things. But I don’t want a song that sounds Broadway. There is an art to telling a specific story in a song. My immediate point of reference is Bob Dylan’s “The Hurricane”. I love that song. It’s got all this great and very specific storytelling (even if it lacks some factual accuracy). But I don’t want to write a song like that.

Here’s an example, the written prologue of TAS is all about the setting of the story. The story is set in an alternate version of our world. The prologue explains the idea of multiverses. When it came to writing a song that touched upon the same ideas, it was tough. It just didn’t flow in the way I wanted it to.

Then came the idea of referring to specific things. TAS takes place in a city called New Verity. If I mention that, it locks the song to the world of the story which is fine. But what happens when the song stands on its own. I think about a song like “Cable beach” by Ben Kreiger. That song is an amazing 15 minute tale of people retiring to a virtual world. It really needs to be taken as a whole for its full effect but it is really 5 smaller songs (don’t quote that number). The songs don’t stand up as well away from the whole. I still want songs that will stand up on their own but still be a part of a story. It’s a paradox that is making me take a completely different look at what goes into writing a song. I think if I’m going to pull this off, it’s going to take more that just write story verse, add catchy chorus. It’s going to take a reworking of how I present the story.

Then there’s the musical aspect. I’m still standing alone in this process. I know that there are great artists like Johnny Cashpoint, Heuristics Inc, and Billy’s Little Trip who are willing to work with me. And I want to work with them. I want to do some experimental stuff as a part of XTRG where we can deconstruct basic guy and guitar pieces, make them into electronic soundscapes, and then figure out how to recreate the experiments with live experiments. It’s brilliant fun. In Montserrat, I want to blend the two worlds of acoustic and electronic. And at the same time, try and have some fun by tapping into some different lyrical ground like history.

But you know that saying about how if you can’t love yourself how are you gonna love anyone else. That’s my feeling currently when it comes to music. I have to get myself into a good place. I’m a strong multitasker. I feel that’s one of my gifts. Fixing Niveous the musician and getting myself where I want to be musically takes focus and I wasn’t gifted with that.

Then there’s the strange dichotomy of needing to fix up myself and not being able to do it alone. And SF Live still looms in the distance. It’s all so confusing.

Back from the Dead?

Posted in Music on April 4, 2011 by Niveous

There’s been no activity here on Audioshards in a few days. Why? I put some more focus on a musical project. Which project? I’m trying not to talk it up. I feel like the more I talk it up, the more pressure that I’ll put on myself. And I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean that I’ll start thinking of the project like this “I mentioned this out loud. If I fail to finish it, it will be such a setback.”

But there is some undeniable pressure, like the fact that SF Live is in 2 months. I have 2 new released songs and still no band. I am far from where I want to be. So much that I need to do.

And today also starts the Songfight spring classic, the Nur Ein. Let’s see what year six has to offer.