Monday, April 23, 2007

Do it Again

Do It Anyway - Written by Mother Teresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical,
and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you
of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some
false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone
could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway


This post was brought to you in association with QOTSA

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Radio/ Video

I think this is my theory, but I'm not sure.

It's called D'Souza's Musical Circle (a bit like the political circle, and Eddie Izzard's 'circle of cool').

I don't proclaim one musical form to be better than another - from S Club 7 to Ministry...it's all expression, memories, and emotion.

I also find it hard to categorise music, and my own music taste because it's so varied. I tend to like things with some authenticity behind them, but then find myself dancing silly moves to things like 'Baby One More Time' by Britney Spears and enjoying it.

Everything has it's place.

Let's begin with pop. Cheesy, mainstream, vocal pop songs that are short, sweet, catchy and mid-tempo. Its purpose is to sell and make money: from Abba to Cliff Richard. They're safe. From there we add a dash of guitar. It's still popular, but perhaps the bands are writing their owns songs (how can we forget the Beatles?)

Increasing the distortion on the guitar, and volume on the drums, things are getting a bit crazier, but still melodic. 'Rock' tends to be a catch-all for all guitar-based music. It's quite catchy, singable, and it does range from soft-rock to hard-rock.

Of course the earlier versions of rock were far more anti-establishment: rock'n'roll...which was derived from the blues...they sit quite comfortably at this stage in the circle. Along with the mad experimentation of Jazz).

Taking the distortion on the guitar, but varying it a little, and perhaps a more internal focus on lyrics - it's moving into indie-pop. This is perhaps an oxymoron as the music seeks to bring together 'popular' and 'independent'.

Now change the vocals a little, make the lyrics more anti-establishment and teenage angsty...more aggressive, faster guitar...we're into punk and all it's variants...and what variants they are from hardcore, to stoner, to grunge...they're all rooted in the punk ethic.

After that, it's a simple link to the world of metal. Faster, harder guitars, darker lyrical themes, mental drumming. But a focus on live performance. (There are, of course, variants on a theme: trad-metal, power metal, thrash, rap-metal...)

If however, some samples are added, and the drums are created artificially...well - that's entering the world of Ministry, Skinny Puppy, NIN...it's Industrial. (Goth sits nicely between Metal and Industrial).

Speeding up the drums, and keeping with the samples...we end up in the world of trance and techno. Repetitive beats, loud bass...it's all there...(it's only one aggressive vocal away from industrial!) I mean Gabber is really the ultimate melding of Industrial and Trance (check out Ultraviolence).

Alter the drumbeats slightly, and the vocals and the tags drum'n'bass and breakbeat are more appropriate. Although there are a couple of unique bands that manage to straddle drum'n'bass and punk (the ethics of home-made music are not so far removed from each other ) - for example: the Prodigy and Pitch Shifter spring to mind.

If the drumbeats are slowed slightly, the world of 'house music' opens up. The repetitive beats, home-made basics and sampled vocals provide an accessible route to the dancefloor for the most atrocious and talentless dancers. Some say it's trance for the masses.

Slow down the drum beats further - stay with the sample-based style, keep with the spoken rhythmic vocals...well that's hip-hop...and it's allies - trip-hop anyone (check out Portishead, Massive Attack and Tricky...)

Of course the sample-based music is nowhere without the samples...and where are they all from? Well...anyone for disco? House and hip-hop derive the majority of their samples from disco (and it's dirty sister funk!) Mad basslines, keyboards, and an emphasis on rhythm...all the key elements of disco and funk; as well as a brilliant ability with their instruments...

Of course the catchiness of disco, the danger of hip-hop, and talent of the funk players made it an easy product to sell. Combine these elements of disco, house, and hip-hop water it down...and well - it becomes r'n'b - (no not the proper rhythm and blues of Ray Charles, or the soul of Motown - but it's bastardised-high-selling-offspring - hip-pop)...the classic case of re-appropriating black-based culture for the masses.

I'm sure I read somewhere that it's the best-selling musical genre on the planet...

Make r'n'b a little safer, commoditise it...yes still use samples, and computers to create a catchy song, a little cheesy, mid-tempo...and um...well - we're back at pop music...the circle is complete!

Does this make sense?

I think I've missed few out...but everything has its place on the circle somewhere...I'm sure...

Enjoy!

J.

This post was brought to you by System of a Down

BTW - look at the pic and fixate on the central dot. Now move closer and further from the monitor...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Here comes the Sun

The title of this post not only reflects the weather, but my state of mind too.

Perhaps it's because of the weather that I'm feeling better? I don't have S.easonal A.ffective D.isorder do I?

Anyway...I have seen a few things about myself. I pretend I'm committed to my family, but actually I'm annoyed with some members. Impact on me is that I'm upset, and I'm nice...and I don't say what I really think like "stop the nonsense and sort it out like adults" - I'm afraid of world war three erupting. It's killer on me. I just get irritated, don't listen and end up taking it out on others.

I'm creating being peaceful and generous.

Also, going back to school was kinda hard - only a few weeks to exams and I'm getting boys inspired. Well I really felt that my year 11 get how much I'm standing for them doing well in their GCSEs. Behind all the macho bluster a lot of it is a call for attention or help.

It's not always easy to avoid cynicism.

Teenage boys...

J.

This post was brought to you by George Harrison

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Survivalism

Oh
My
God

I have to wax lyrical about NIN.

I love the band. I have for quite a while now.

Before NIN I was of the opinion that if it wasn't played with bass, drums, guitars, vocals, it wasn't music.

I'm not sure which particular song changed my opinion. But it seems that there are quite a dedicated fanbase out there. Perhaps it's the distinctive logo. Perhaps it's the emphasis on artistry rather than celebrity.

Actually, it's none of those. It was actually the lyrical content that attracted me.

At that particular point in my life, I was a dramatic, over-the-top, self-pitying teenager. That part of me still exists, but it no longer runs my life thanks to distinguishing 'what happened' and 'what I made it mean' (some of you will know what I'm talking about).

It makes a guest appearance every now and then.

So you can guess, lyrically, NIN isn't the most inspiring or cheery of places. I did listen to Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral rather a lot. And then obsessively collected all the 'Halos' as they're called. (Cue geek moment: each official NIN release is given a Halo number. I am missing Halos 12, 20 and 22...but don't worry they will be completed!)

I think that the guy behind it - Trent Reznor - is an artistic genius. The depth and intricacy of the music is brilliant. And seeing it live was great too.

Now my current reinvigoration for NIN is the imminent release of Year Zero.

This is becoming something of an internet phenomenon.

Traditionally NIN's lyrical and musical theme has been the inner demon. For the new release NIN is taking on the world around us, in a typically dark way. There are a LOAD of websites out there are creating a landscape - and all related to the release of the album. There is talk of a film as well.

The release has got the obscurity and confusion, yet addictiveness of Lost. It has the conspiracy theories of Prison Break. And it has the apocalyptic visions of...well I can't think of another TV reference.

It's a grand concept album.

And I can't wait.

J.

PS For those of you that don't know - that song 'Hurt' that Johnny Cash did? It's a Nine Inch Nails song...

This post was brought to you by NIN and Survivalism

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back In Black

Well...lots has been happening in the time since I last posted. People have turned 30, got married, and got ill.

It's made me think how much circumstances can dictate my feelings, my mood, my outlook, my productivity, everything. It's as if my circumstances dictate my life, almost as if I'm a victim to them.

That doesn't leave me with much of a say in the matter of my life.

Now, I know that I don't have to be a slave to my circumstances, but knowing it doesn't make the difference. I can sit here and analyse, pray, and wait for the 'right' circumstances, but somehow I don't think that will make a huge difference.

A few weeks ago at school we had a comic relief event. I was approached by some boys the week before to sing "Back in Black". We had one practice, and well...it was ok! The only problem was that I didn't know the words. I spent ages learning them, but on the day, with the crowd...peformance nerves...and I forgot all the words. One practice, and the performance reflected that.

Having said that, we raised £80 in about 20 minutes! And I screamed incomprehensibly in time with the music (some might say that is the very essence of heavy metal) and managed to pull it off...the ridiculousness of my appearance helped.

The boys I teach are getting nervous about circumstances. Some have left their coursework very late. It's a bit of a wake-up call for them, and for me. Easter holidays haven't been that much of a holiday, but once the coursework is marked, it's downhill all the way!

And of course this is the season of rebirth, fertility and resurrection. I've visited Germany and seen one of my friends get married. It was great - a mixandmash of cultures. She's German, he's from Coventry, but grew up in France and went to Uni with me in Birmingham. They met in Burkina Faso.

It was nice how it all came together actually - German weddings are a slightly different format to those in the UK. No real dancing or partying, but games/ items/ party pieces after the food...and LOADS of coffee and cake. I wrote a song about the groom, and performed it in English and German. It went down really well - and raised an authentic laugh from the German contingent. (Not that Germans don't have a great sense of humour!)

Of course, going to a wedding made it all the more apparent that I am getting married this summer.

So after getting ill in Germany (induced from hayfever/ asthma/ eating badly), and suffering with a four hour plane delay (not pleasant - for me, or for the wonderful D who still managed to pick me up!) it was back to discussing invites and wedding issues with families.

My patience is being tested.

D is wonderful - and actually enjoying the whole process too. I am too, mostly. I just allow myself to get tested by my family. Yes it's my wedding, but it's also a big deal for everyone who is related to us. Sometimes I lose sight of that. Sometimes I can be a complete idiot and not listen. And sometimes, other people want it their way or the high way.

My family has wonderful people in it. Really genuinely amazing people. They all are in their own way.

And some just push my buttons.

So we're back full circle. Do I let my feelings/ opinions/ arrogance dictate the experience of planning my wedding?

Circumstances leading me, or me creating the circumstances.

It is action that produces results. No action, no result, simple.

I'm always reminded of this quote:

Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.
George Bernard Shaw
I'm going to make those phonecalls and apologies.

J.

This post was brought to you by AC/DC