I think I’ve mentioned this once before on this blog, but I grew up in a Christian home and have been a practicing Christian for my entire life. Even now, I’m attending a Christian college, and as such, I hear alot of Christian music being played constantly (even as I’m writing this in my dorm room, someone’s strumming a guitar and singing Christian music right now). However, I’m also a musician, and being aware of what makes up music, I’ve been openly critical of most forms of contemporary Christian music. The biggest issue, musically speaking (meaning, all spiritual problems aside), most of what I don’t like is the extreme repetition of the lyrics. But I love hymns, and they all have repeating choruses. So how can I be two-sided about this? That’s what I’m going to answer.
I was a Boy Scout for seven years, and my troop went camping every month. So you can imagine how many adventures we had, and how many crazy things we saw and did. But on this particular trip, something occurred that was so singularly frightening and also hilarious, that I thought I’d tell the story here. So prepare yourself, dear reader, for a tale of epic battle. Also, for those who don’t stomach violence too well, this story contains a scene in which a Dr. Pepper bottle gets thrown around and beaten up, so keep that in mind.
No way! I’m actually posting something that isn’t about entertainment or fine arts!? Yes, dear reader, it is true: the moment has finally come. What’s more is that I’m posting something about my personal life too, which I’ve never done on this blog before. But that’s something that you’re supposed to do to get your blog popular, right? Oh, who am I kidding, I don’t care how popular my blog is. Where am I even going with this introduction? Forget it; I’ve ruined it now; let’s just get into the actual post.
Not many truer things have been said than what Charles Schultz wrote above. Sometimes it takes Charlie Brown and Linus to get simple gems of wisdom across. But that’s another post for another day. Did you know that the banjo isn’t just a string instrument? It’s percussion as well. “Well, duh,” you may very well say, “the bottom half of the thing is a drum.” First of all, that’s not true: although the material is the same used to make drum heads, the body of a banjo cannot double as a drum. And besides, I’m not talking about the make-up of the instrument, I’m talking about the playing style. Just by playing the banjo, the banjoist is simultaneously playing strings and percussion. Let me explain…
I know this is the “random thoughts” section, and I’m still only posting about entertainment. You might be thinking, “Man, does this guy have any sort of life outside of entertainment?”, and the answer is no, but I promise that I intend to at some point put something in the “random thoughts” that isn’t entertainment-related. I’ll get there. But while I get there, let’s talk about a movie called Metropolis.
Okay, a couple of things. Yes, I know this picture is old, but it’s the best I can do. Also, I was going to focus alot on the Sherlock Holmes book canon and launch my proposed writing series, but I just don’t know enough English nuances to be able to write something like that. I can only identify entertainment techniques. So that writing series won’t be happening. The last thing I’ll mention is… oh yeah, Sherlock just ended. And before people start freaking out and saying “But the ending was awful” or “There’ll be a series five, just wait!”, here’s what I’ll say to those fanboys and fangirls and fanothers when the time comes. …that “fanothers” was a joke, by the way. I realise that any given blog reader might or might not have caught that. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about “Sherlock”.
Honestly, I had to get another post up, because as much as I like “Night at the Ballet”, I just couldn’t leave that picture as the first one people see on my blog. Anyway, on to the subject at hand. Maybe you’ve seen “Classical Music Mashup”. It was a YouTube video that went viral just over a year ago, by channel name grantwoolard. Woolard has posted several videos on his channel like the mashup, and he very recently uploaded a second classical mashup in the same style as his first one. But why am I talking about him? What makes his “mashups” so great? It’s all about the art of counterpoint, which Woolard, it seems, has mastered.
I admit, that photo up there isn’t the most enticing ever considering what I want to talk about. But that’s what I’ve got to work with; it’s the only photo with the title of the show that they ever put out. Anyway, what am I even talking about? Oh yeah, Hamilton. Remember that Broadway play Hamilton? It was, like, the most popular stage play of 2016 or something. It was nominated for sixteen Tony awards, and won eleven… remember that little play? Well, the reason it had such a large fan base is because it made rap music, musicals, and history all more appealing to a much larger audience than those three genres usually garner. And this audio show has done the same thing. It has taken a specific genre and made it more enticing to those who would have taken no interest in the subject before. Let’s take a look into “Night at the Ballet”.
The picture that you’re looking at for this post is actually an entire piece of music. You can see that the piece has three movements, but only music buffs will know what the word “tacet” means. Essentially, it means “don’t play your instrument”. That piece of music was only written for one instrument, the piano, and it’s not part of some larger-scale orchestral piece that doesn’t need the piano for the first three movements. That one page is the entirety of the piece. That means that the entire piece of music revolves around the pianist not playing anything at all. How is this music, you might ask? Many have said that it isn’t, and the evidence is valid. But I would propose that it is, so without further ado, let’s look at this strange piece, known only as 4’33”.
In the vast history of music, the category of “novelty” music has always been of interest to me, especially considering that until very recently, virtually all non-bluegrass or country banjo music would have been considered “novelty”. Some novelty music is quite strange and nonsensical, and there’s quite a bit in which I get the sense that either the composer is just trying to be “different” and “unique” in order to garner attention for himself, or he’s trying to communicate an idea and oftentimes the listeners don’t understand what he’s trying to demonstrate. Sometimes, however, there is novelty music that is really quite ingenious and deserves a bit of recognition. So let’s look at one of my favourite novelty pieces, “The Typewriter”.