Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Language and Writing

At the blog for the magazine The Battered Suitcase, the editors featured an intriguing article concerning spelling within the literary world. Apparently, author F. Scott Fitzgerald (who, if you're completely ignorant of, then you're just completely ignorant in general) was horrible with spelling. Yet, no matter, that's what editors are for. But more and more these days, with so many new writers jumping into the game and literally hundreds a various writing platforms offering assistance to emerging writers, it seems common writing mistakes (especially spelling) are becoming rather prominent, and there's a fear that it may lead to a new evolution of dumb-downed language.

Say what?!

In laymen terms . . . does the new-wave of digital-age writing (and its use of limited characters and phrases -- such as: u2, lol, tl;dr) threaten the literary world?

Well, my personal response . . . no.

I do find the new wave of digital-age writing rather irritating from time to time (especially when I have no idea what certain acronyms mean), but I don't see it bearing any real threats on the literary world. I mean, it's not as if you see an abundant trend of dumb-downed language littering literature -- especially when concerning young, emerging writers. And I'm willing to bet any number of authors, these days, use limited characters when typing on their cellular telephones and electronic-mailing devices, but nevertheless maintain a strong focus on language when writing stories, essays, journals, et cetera. And why is that? Because it's merely a different writing platform . . . like fiction versus nonfiction; philosophical prose versus scientific prose; journalism versus research -- all vary with writing style.

There will be (and already has been) text-style writing to appear in the literary world from time to time, but I don't think it's going to write itself (pun intended) into history as a new literary convention. Sure, there are some phrases and/or words that will undoubtedly be adopted, but overall, I don't think it'll amount to anything more than a different style of writing for a different platform.

Also, I love a misspelt [sic] word or two. It adds character! And it shows that we are not flawless, no matter how hard we strive to perfect every tiny detail. To think, mistakes still plague us, especially in this day in age with a vast wealth of information and technology at our fingertips. And for such a mistake to be something as trivial and simple as spelling . . . well, that in itself is perfection! The perfection of the non-perfect.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Sounds - Why Heavy Metal? - Part 2: Emotional Context, Tone and Structure

What do you think of when you think of heavy metal? Angry music? Scary music? Evil music? Screaming? Growling? Harsh tones? Fast guitars and fast drumming? Loud and obnoxious?

No matter what you think about heavy metal, it's probably legit. But more often than not, the one thing that seems to escape most people is the emotional contexts heavy metal music incorporates. Most people assume that heavy metal merely conveys a limited range of emotions: anger, hatred, sadness, disgust, lust, et cetera. Overall, the emotional tone of heavy metal is generally dark. While this is true for the most part, there are number of subjective qualities behind this idea . . . all of which I wish to share with you, right now!

The Beauty Within Darkness

What is perhaps the most curcial element to any musical creation? A sense of melody. In the world of rock music (in its most basic pretext), the melody is a guitar riff or vocalization that provides a unique, catchy hook in which the listener finds alluring, and often times memorable. For example, the opening guitar riff to Guns N' Roses' Sweet Child O' Mine, or the vocalization of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal, or the most infamous drum beat and guitar riff (and vocalization) in the world of heavy metal: the epic climax of Metallica's One. The melody of a song is what makes it a song -- that doesn't mean that every song has a melody, however -- and in the world of heavy metal, never is melody better defined.

How so?

Well, take what I said last week pertaining to the musicianship of heavy metal artists. The world of heavy metal is littered with thousands of talented musicians on every instrument, and when you combine their musianship with musical creation (such as melody), you achieve something you cannot achieve in other avenues. For example, take what I stated above . . . melody in Sweet Child O' Mine is found within a guitar, melody in Smooth Criminal is found within a voice, melody in One is found within a guitar, drums and a voice.

Now, that doesn't mean there aren't melodies in other genres of music which don't incorporate a multitude of instruments, but never is it more prevalent than in the world of heavy metal. But the real beauty of it, is that often times, in a heavy metal song, there may exist several melodies!

That's right! There are a number of songs which don't focus one just one climatic element, but rather numerous variations and themes, all of which add to the totality of a song. I offer as Exhibit A:

But sure, it's easy to feature a number of melodic entrancements with a song that's ten minutes long. Yet, that's another fascinating feature with heavy metal. There are numerous heavy metal songs that push beyond typical song length. On average, a song ranges anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes in length; yet, in the world of heavy metal, it's not uncommon to find songs beyond 10 minutes, especially when considering various sub genres. For example, black metal, epic metal, pagan metal, et cetera, all feature a vast number of songs pushing the 15 minute mark. And bands like Moonsorrow, Weakling, Dakestrah feature songs more on the side of 20 minutes . . . especially Moonsorrow who have a number songs beyond 20 minutes, even approaching a 30 minute mark.

Hold up, a 30 minute long song?! That's right. Songs so wondrously created, in structure, melody and musicianship, that they transcend the prejudices of heavy metal and enter the realm of musical composition! And yet, it retains its heavy metal qualities. I highly recommend checking out Moonsorrow's album V: Havitetty -- pure pagan metal, featuring classic shriek-style-vocalization, blast beats and tremolo picking, acoustics, flutes, keyboards, and wonderful musicianship.

But back to my point. Melody is everywhere in the world of music, but in some styles it's far more purposeful. And none other than heavy metal . . . I mean, how else can musicians make a dark song catchy and appealing?

That does appear to be the main criticism behind heavy metal: it's dark. Why would anyone wish to surround themselves with such darkness all the time? Well, in truth, it's not the darkness that draws in most fans. I mean, when I was a teenager and began listening to heavy metal for the first time, it wasn't because I found the music dark. Instead, I heard the other qualities the music had to offer. The melodies, the musicianship, the structure . . . not its theme. That was an aspect that came later in my quest to find other heavy metal bands. And yet, even then, I discovered that a lot of "dark music" was really just another subjective quality -- a way in which to explore musical elements. Even then, not all dark music is wholly dark. Even though the tone of a song may be dark, sometimes the melody and indeed the lyrics themselves are beautiful. I offer as Exhibit B:

So, why heavy metal? Well, it's all the tonal and emotional elements heavy metal has to offer. What other source of music has the ability to convey so much, yet remain so true to its nature? Heavy metal music has a lot to offer, only many levels, and it's to prejudge it based on media prejudices. It may be dark, but it can be beautiful.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Sounds - Why Heavy Metal? Part 1: The Muscianship

The answer is quite simple: it's the technicality of it all. The musicianship, the structure of the music, the emotional contexts. These are elements all forms of music encompass, but I can't imagine any style of music that focuses on these elements more so than heavy metal. But for me, a lot of my passion for heavy metal really stems from the musicianship. And to be very specific, it's all about the drumming with me.

Everyone knows guitar, whether they play the instrument or not -- it's not difficult to judge a good guitarist (especially when solos are concerned). And the musicanship of guitarists is a strong focal point for many musical styles; as such, there's little I wish to discuss about the nature of guitarists in rock or heavy metal, as both exhibit a wide range of musicianship. A little harder to dissect is the bassist -- as the bass (in most musical forms) is merely an instrument of accompaniment, but even it can be a strong focal point for many musical styles. As for the drums, which (in its basic form) is also an instrument of accompaniment like the bass, there's generally a lack of understanding on just how truly complex the instrument can be. Most people hear drums, but don't understand what they're hearing, more specifically what they're not hearing. They may hear an interesting rhythm and pin-point it as being unique, but on a whole the drums are a mysterious instrument to many.

Growing up, I was exposed to a lot of rock music from my family. I was learning percussion (drumming) during those years, and was always under the impression that all manner of drumming focused on rudiments (that is, to say, the composition of rhythm). I thought that being a drummer for a band simply meant keeping a beat, and therefore keeping time, for a song. The drummers didn't really appear to do much, despite their notoriety (i.e. Keith Moon, John Bonham, Steven Adler); but of course there were moments where drummers had a chance to shine -- most notably with drum solos. But even then I was bored. Rock drummers didn't appear to have a wide variety of skill.

The led me down a path of trying to discover the musicianship of drummers in bands. And ultimately, I was led to the discovery of drumming virtuosos (drummers with in-depth understanding of percussion and music theory). I was introduced to a variety of drummers who were extremely skilled (i.e. Buddy Rich, Dave Weckl, Tony Royster Jr.), and though highly impressed with the musicianship of such drummers, I was bored with the musical style. Most of these drummers played in jazz bands, funk bands, gospel bands, et cetera.

So I was now under the impression that great drummers only played for musical styles that were of little to no interest to me. As much as I appreciated musical styles like jazz, I didn't feel said styles of music represented all of the complexities music had to offer. For lack of better terminology: it didn't rock!

So I was torn between my love for musicianship in regards to drumming, and my passion for something that rocked. It was as if I only had two choices . . . something that rocked with drummers that didn't do much save for a simple drum solo, or drummers that were insanely talented but played for bands that I found boring.

Then I discovered heavy metal. It was this style of music that I discovered the perfect blend of musicianship and music that rocks. Here was a style of music where a drummer was a focal point without having to break away into a drum solo, while at the same time adding to a style of music I found very interesting.

Case in point:

Derek Roddy . . .

George Kollias . . .

Dirk Verbeuren . . .

All of these drummers possess talent. And though they all appear to have similar abilities (which they do), you cannot proclaim their drumming ability as simplistic; nor the music as a whole as being boring (which is a topic I will save for next time).

So why heavy metal?

Well, for me, it's all about the drumming.

Posting On a Regular Basis

Kayla says I need to post on a more regular basis, but what exactly I should post has been eluding me for quite some time. Until last night, after band practice, Jon (lead singer and guitarist for my band Silver Cypher) and I were discussing many wonderful things pertaining to our love of heavy metal music, bands in general, and of course philosophical musings.

It occurred to me that there are more things I'm passionate about other than literature and art . . . actually, that didn't occur to me just last night (for I always knew I was passionate about music and philosophy), but it did occur to me that I should share this passion on my blog.

And so, it is my plan to dedicate one day a week to music--my love of the genre heavy metal and the bands therein--and quite possibly dedicating a day (at random) to philosophical pondering.

With that being said . . .

Thursday, July 14, 2011

This Again . . .

My first introduction into the blogging world was years ago when an individual copied one of my responses (discussions) at a forum website (www.darkforum.com), and proceeded to comment on it via their own personal blog.

And now it's happened again.

Interesting? Well, to me at least.

Here's the blog/post:

In short, this individual and I were have a philosophical discussion about "self." We were not agreeing. I shan't bore anyone with the philosophical musings, but needless to say it was their opinion that "self" is merely a word and bearing no philosophical subjectivity, to which I promptly replied: wrong!

Boring, huh.

Oh well . . .

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Creative Creation

Lately, I've been obsessed with the idea of making another zine.  I had a lot of fun doing the last one (The Satanic Teddy Bear: Immoral Morals and Other Terrible Tales), and I couldn't wait to do another.  This new project is actually something I've been working on (rather haphazardly) for quite some time.  It's a story (of sorts) written in collaboration with activities and pictures (i.e. coloring books).  The main character is a girl named Ditzy, who goes on an exciting adventure in hopes of finding her baby.  Now, the literary representation of Ditzy was simple--I've already written the story and had the idea of a dim-witted character fully in mind. . . the artistic representation however was quite another story.  I went through many different versions of Ditzy over the course of a year (most of which were so horrible they aren't even worth showing), but in the past month she really began to take shape.  In fact, here's a few examples of Ditzy's formation.

I like her.  I think she's one of the best characters I've done.  I know she's simple, but that's the look I'm going for.  There are many things in store for her . . . I have quite a number of adventures planned out for her . . . but those will just have to wait until next time.