Have I told you yet that I hate it when people hear my music and say: “That would make great movie music”?
It’s not meant as an insult. And probably shouldn’t be taken as one. But the underlying logic I hear is: “Your music is not good enough to listen to on its own.”
That being said, I recently saw a movie that had some wonderful movie-music in it. It was called “I am Love” and featured the music of American post-minimalist John Adams. The music was all composed before the movie was made. It works wonderfully. The music, in fact, is one of the most important characters in the film. And, I hate to say it, it makes really good movie music.
Another “character” in the film is the upper-upper class. There is something very satisfying for me in watching rich people do the things that they want to do as they are want to do them. (I know, I know. The whole point of the movie is picking simple pleasures over the cold and heartless traps that come with being rich.) Regardless, I want to be rich.
One practical way for me to do this would be to have my music used in a major motion picture.
A fanciful way would be to name a piece of music for Karl Lagerfeld and have him become my friend. I don’t want money. I just want to be flown on private jets to Paris for fashion week and get drunk with royalty. Is that so much to ask?
I’m reading a book about Glenn Gould right now. There is a quote in there about the right time to have idols – Gould puts it in the early teens, but something tells me he had a few in his adulthood – that made me feel a little ashamed of myself. I jump from one hero to the next, sucking as much inspiration as I can from them and then moving on.
John Fahey was a hero. I haven’t listened to his music in a year. Anthony Braxton was a hero – it’s been three months since I’ve heard one note he played. Two weeks ago it was Mozart – tomorrow Beethoven.
There are non-musical heroes as well – Shackleton being, of course, the most exemplary:
Cultural appropriation is a funny bit of business. Things get taken, recycled, reused, modified and eventually become the norm. No one using a twelve-bar blues format thinks that they are stealing a bit of ethnic music. But they are.
A couple of weeks ago I went and saw Huun Huur Tu – a group that plays ancient Tuvan music – at the Mod-Club. I thought that the deep reverberations of Tuvan throat-singing and a down-town dance club that referenced London in the swinging sixties was a strange pairing. I had no idea what was going to happen next. Huun Huur Tu came out and played with a New York vest-wearing producer called Carmen Rizzo. Rizzo put screen-savers up in the club and added canned beats to the music, turning this unique group of musicians (Huun Huur Tu) into glorified spa sounds. The “World Music” crowed seemed to love it.
I was not impressed.
“World Music” as a genre is one of the most confusing and misleading entities in all of mislabeled music. What does Ali Farke Toure have to do with Jorge Ben Jorge? Where are Java and Sumatra anyway? Isn’t gamelan a blend of Starbucks coffee?
In the 1970s the krautrock group Can produced a bunch of recordings they called their Ethnological Forgery Series. An honest title for what happens when a rock group puts a sitar in a song.