Day 209

At the Festival of Faith and Music, an editor I greatly respect said that--in his opinion--one of the most valued traits to look for in music is originality in lyric and composition. While his emphasis was heavily on the lyrical portion, I know that many people (critics and musicians especially) long for musical originality.

Which is great. There are some wonderfully unique bands out there that write great songs, and they deserve acclaim and recognition! But I'm constantly reminded that I am drawn back to music that is, in the grand scheme of things, awfully unoriginal.

I'm fine with this.

All of my favorite contemporary music styles are pretty notorious for being "same-y" sounding; in fact, if there is a genre more unoriginal than power pop, let me know. But I love it nonetheless. I always keep my ears open for yet one more crunchy, Beatles-aping song about the girl-that-didn't-fall-for-the-singer or the girl-that-the-singer-doesn't-know-doesn't-like-him-because-he's-too-busy-being-introspective.
Originality has its place, I think. But so does the ability to do something familiar well, to do it with passion and joy. And this obviously works in any aspect of life. Because no matter how creative that kazoo-meets-oxen duet may be, I'd rather hear a well-written folk or country song that sounds like a dozen other well-written folk or country songs.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 4/02/2007 10:27:00 PM,

8 Comments:

At 12:19 AM, Blogger chris said...

i'm not sure your viewpoints are as juxtaposed as you might think. i think the keys are "y" at the end of same and the "sounds like."

i don't think anyone wants to hear someone what sounds exactly like another band... but we often like similarities, and similarities bring some sameness as well as some uniqueness.

cover bands have their place, but that's a different story. for the most part we enjoy things that fit into our favorite genres, but we love it when they do something a bit different and bring something new that no one else has quite brought yet.

maybe i'm off, but i think i agree with a lot with david dark. we do want uniqueness, but that doesn't mean that we don't like genre.

sample: i love the boss. i love the new killers album. i love the hold steady. all somewhat similar, but they all have their differences that make me like them more than simply a springsteen cover band.

sorry if i missed what you were saying. i agree that we want some sameness but only to a certain extent just like we want uniqueness, but, again, only to a certain extent.

 
At 7:28 AM, Blogger Jason said...

No no, I think we're saying the something similiar. I'm probably careless about my word choice, too, which is why it's not as clear.

I think it boils down to fact that, yes, while originality in music is great--it IS--and that we do want uniqueness to some extent, I am a huge supporter of genre. This is a defense (of sorts) to the generally bad reviews genre albums get because they don't "bring anything new to the game," as a particular online review site likes to point out.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger ~greg said...

I think by originality, he (nameless editor:-) meant like the originality of birth. It is not something absolutely new, it is a recombination of the parents DNA, and yet each person is unique and original. But you wouldn't call a child born with three eyes original, you would call that a deformity. The same with music, there is some norms that music has to stay within the bounds of to be good, as well as plenty of freedom to explore different ways of combining elements. There is also the problem of time and culture, becuase previous work influences and shapes the present. It would be pretty hard for it not to. I really like Coldplay, they are not completely original, but unique enough to be good.

 
At 9:40 PM, Blogger Russ said...

Could you link to the band that has the oxen-kazoo hybrid? That's entertainment!

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger Sir Ryan said...

Talking about lyrics and faith... it seems to me that making lyrics the primary focus of music is the biggest problem with "Christian" music.

If you're making music to preach a message, then you're in the wrong profession. Make music to glorify God, not to get a message out. Music is a form of art and a form of expression, and if you make the music secondary to the lyrics then you're not following your making music to the best of your ability. You're preaching. If you want to preach, become a pastor.

I might've missed the point of your post, but this is what I've been thinking about for a while.

Jared Olivetti did an awesome workshop titled, "Christ is King of the Arts" for our Winter Conference two years ago. Click here for the audio from that year.

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Sir Ryan said...

Dang, I had some grammar errors there. "Not following your making music..."?

Try "not following your calling to make music..."

 
At 4:24 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Ryan, I'm not really even focusing on the lyrics with this post. I'm in full agreement with what you said, and--honestly--lyrics are usually the last thing I pay attention to in music.

I might be misunderstanding the slant you're giving with your comment, but I hope you weren't thinking I was advocating some "cheesy lyrics over music" mindset. I was just saying that genre music is awesome.

 
At 10:06 AM, Blogger Sir Ryan said...

Jason, I didn't think you were advocating "cheesy lyrics over music." Those were just the thoughts I've been thinking recently, and, reading all of this stuff a week later, my comments seem to have very little to do with the substance of your post.

 

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