Saturday, January 23, 2010

Music Theory

I have a theory that our main musical preferences are set, to a great extent, before we are through our teenage years. If you think about the music that had the most impact in your life through the age of 18, for example, it's often pretty easy to draw at least a dotted line (and sometimes a more direct, bold one) to your favorite music now, even when you're an old fart like me.

For me, The Beatles entered my life at in 1963 when I was six years old, and dominated (obsessed?) my musical interests until they broke up seven years later. When I think about what it was about the career path of The Beatles which kept them so compelling for me, I can distill the following qualities: a high level of craft, the embracing and integration of seemingly disparate sounds and other cultures (both musical and geo-political), and an unwillingness to simply repeat successful formulas. Now take these qualities and apply it to the things that most attract me today in music, bands and even musical genres, and you have a pretty succinct description of what I most look for.

So you could posit that my basic filtering system for music was set by the age of 13. Of course, many believe that our sexual proclivities are established long before even that, so maybe this is not such an outlandish theory! It also follows that folks who have not established a deep, emotional connection with music before the age of 20 struggle to do so after.

Try this on yourself... think about the music/bands that meant the most of you before the age of 20, then consider the qualities of that music you found most compelling, and see if those cannot be found in the music that you are listening to today?

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I've barely recovered from my APAP Weekend and it's already time to start preparing for the South By Southwest music conference in mid-March. I try to prepare by going through their list of showcasing artists one-by-one to determine what I should try to check out. It's quite a daunting list, many hundreds of bands here. So please, I invite you to peruse it, and if there are any artists on there that you recommend I check out, leave a comment here. I'm glad to say that I'll have some help this time in the form of fellow blogger Angel of Rock!

I also notice that there will be a SXSW iPhone App this time, which may prove quite useful to have on my iPod Touch.

And speaking of iPhone Apps, if you have not already heard, The Cedar has one now available for free from the iTunes Store. You can watch YouTube videos of upcoming artists (and classic videos from The Cedar archived by users), get all of our latest news, even buy tickets. The first version is now up... and an improved update should be up shortly.

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Next Saturday night (the 30th), Montreal turntablist Kid Koala comes to The Cedar. He's quite amazing... I urge you to check this guy out. He's truly a virtuoso. I'll leave you with this clip (and yes, we'll have our projection system fired up, so you'll get a good view of what he's doing. Now whether you can actually see exactly what that is will be another matter!):

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