Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Please Shut Up

Great piece by Carl Wilson on Deerhoof and the uses of silence. The gist: much of the band's power derives from their use of dynamic shifts. Here, here!

I've been to hundreds of shows and it still seems magical when a band locks in for a sudden shift: soft to loud (or vice-versa), trebly guitar assault to thick drum & bass groove - you get the idea. I'm not the only one; the crowd inevitably goes wild for this.

My question: why doesn't this happen more often? If everyone digs music with dynamic shifts, why do so few of us make it? My provisional answer: ego, childish lack of control, and the false identification of volume with intensity. I've played in several bands, and too often, when a piece calls for quiet, people balk, noodle (usually with increasing volume), or ignore the instruction altogether. When people have instruments in their hands they want to make sound.

I just read on Alex Ross's site about a Webern piece (Six Pieces for Orchestra) which calls for something like three notes from the trombones in 15 minutes. I have never met a rock musician who could keep quiet for so long (nor, to be fair, a rock piece which calls for such extravagant instrumentation, but you get my meaning). Maybe we need notation, too?

Anyway, it's a great post and well worth your attention. And incidentally, if there's anyone in NYC looking to make music, get in touch. My output these days is leaning far too heavily on silence. Outerbridge at gmail.

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