Thursday, March 26, 2009

Music Documentary I Did

I did this 18 years ago when I was a Communications student in Simon Fraser University. I did this using two VHS players, an audio mixer , a microphone and a whole lot of movies and music videos. All in my bedroom. Notice I did not mention a computer. For those of you who have never heard my none singing voice, well here is your chance. The concepts within are based on an academic article by Simon Frith called Picking Up The Pieces. Links and text to some of his work are provided below. If what you are reading does not provide three video screens below please click here.
I know it sounds cliche but this was a labor of love. I always had this perverse fascination of manipulating sound and video that do not belong together. Never took formal training in it. Just played around.

The main point is rock and roll was once a form of expression, distinction and rebellion. But rock and roll got too cozy with TV, movies and commercials that it lost it's soul. It's significance. Basically the systematic exploitation of the apparently romanticized notion of the songs to sell products. Watching this video again, I doubt the younger generation can relate with the disconnect Frith talks about. Because the older people remember hearing a song on the radio and living for years with the imagination generated. Then MTV came along and the younger crowd thought it was always like that A song did not exist without a video. Rock and roll used to be about four guys practicing for years on their instruments and playing in front of audiences long before they saw a recording studio. Then they would record an ALBUM. Not just two songs. But for some I might as well be speaking Nepalese.

You may notice the famous scene from Risky Business where Tom Cruise dances in his underwear. Click here for a better explanation and some good Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.
I wish I still had the book I got this from. That was about 4 moves ago. Somewhere in the third segment you will see Ferris Bueller who I use to explain the context of sampling. Another concept that is so common place that the young people take it so for granted that they thought it was always there. I am sure my long lost friend James Clare will remember when I told him "Next to the Atom Bomb, the Sampler is Mankind's most evil invention".

The video is 22 minutes long.

Segments include:

  • The difference between commercial success of the soundtracks of Top Gun and Back to The Future.
  • The Thinking behind the concept of Dirty Dancing.
  • The Origin of MTV.
  • Aretha Franklin selling cars
  • How Stand By Me became a hit decades after it was first released and sold jeans in the process.
  • and a whole lot more.

Thanks to video capture technology, my piece of crap creation that was destined to be buried in a stack of VHS tapes can now be let loose on the world. Not exactly for the betterment of mankind. Sorry I could not provide subtitles but go ahead ask me about the inaudible parts. Which I assume is about 90% of it.

Another thing, since everything in here is at least 18 years old, you may feel old while watching this.


Notes and links:

When I mention "wea" I mean the record labels :
WEA- Warner Brothers, Elektra and Atlantic.

From Publishers Weekly
These five postmortems by popular-music journalists are, as Frith explains, "inspired by the suspicion . . . that the rock story is ending." In the eloquent and compelling "McRock: Pop as a Commodity," Mary Harron interprets such movements as '50s pop, '60s rock and '70s punk, as well as individual style-conscious '80s stars like Madonna, in terms of images created by hype. Frith's ambitious but often unfocused "Video Pop: Picking Up the Pieces" studies the implications of media entertainment conglomerates' intense packaging and marketing. Steve Perry's "Crossover Politics: Ain't No Mountain High Enough," a history of black popular music and a support of black crossover into white-dominated territory, is a welcome contrast to the other essays' cynical tone and focus on white musicians. And Ken Barnes's dry but informative "Top 40 Radio: A Fragment of the Imagination" unravels a maze of radio formats and discusses the reasons formats are adopted in this medium. If not as controversial as Frith aggrandizingly proclaims it to be, his volume is, for the most part, lively and challenging.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

British rock-critic Frith (Sound Effects and Art into Rock) here edits five original essays on pop music that range from the journalistic to the analytical. Most disappointing is Ken Barnes' "Top 40 Radio," a history and morphology of popular radio programming that includes a useful glossary to the alphabet soup of formats (AOR=album oriented radio, etc.) but that never challenges the fundamental tools of the trade - Barnes accepts demographics as an instrument of democratic participation, a rather naive notion to say the least. Steve Perry's spirited essay on "Crossover Politics" celebrates the history of "musical miscegenation," the "tangled lineage" of rock that serves as a corrective both to black nationalists and to those white critics who see nothing but exploitation. Frith's own contribution brilliantly points toward the future of an industry in which sound itself is replacing records as a commodity. In Frith's well-supported view, technology promises to alter definitions of both music and performer, with profound consequences in the courtroom as well as the boardroom. The business of rock also underpins Mary Harron's refreshing and demystifying piece, "McRock," in which she poses the question: "How can we disassociate pop from hype, when the two have been entwined from the beginning?" Her vigorously written answer - that we can't - surveys not just the obvious eras of pop-star-making, but even those periods when rock claimed for itself an authenticity and experience immune to corporate control. Equally impressive, Jon Savage's "The Enemy Within" pieces together a history of youth culture - how, among other things, the utopian hopes of the Sixties quickly turned into consumerist realities. Not for uncritical fans, this essential collection takes a giant step towards defining what rock was, is, and might be. (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

See all Editorial Reviews,M1

Tags: commercial, music, meaning, sociology, Ed Lopez, Dr. Sut Jhally

No comments: