So many times I’ve heard musicians say it’s wrong to use a sample or a loop that you didn’t make yourself. I find something very wrong with this attitude
As musicians , as simple as it may sound , we should be preoccupied with ” music ” , with conveying / expressing emotion , or communicating a message , but , as with everything else , the method / choice of software / genre etc….have become more important than the end result , and the “self-appointed guardians of sound” major on the minors.
I often think of the very first person who discovered music in its simplest form. I tend to imagine it was a neanderthal called Jim , who accidentally bashed his head off the cave wall one day , and liked the thud sound it made , shouted ” UG” ( ie, eureka ) at the top of his voice as the secret of “riddim ” landed in his lap , and ushered in a new understanding of the mysteries around him.
Jim then ran off to find his friend Bert , who was happily clubbing a sabre-toothed tiger to death , and excitedly shouted ” UG UG UG !!!! ” ( translated as ” LOL I’ve just invented riddim…come see homie ” ) . Back at the cave , Jim did the head-on-the-cave-wall thing again , while Bert slowly began to improvise by bashing a crudely fashioned axe off his kneecap. This was the first band.
This spread throughout the village , and eventually , songs were made to commemorate victory in battle , to mourn the passing of a village elder , or to serenade a woman and wow her with your hunting prowess as you fought 10 T-Rex to mate with her.
Music is a very very simple thing. It is primitive , raw and instinctual. These days , its becoming more and more reduced to a science or a formula , a guarantee of sales ……………… but where is the soul ? Where is the heartfelt purity and honesty ? Its becoming reduced to the parts of its sum rather than the sum of its parts.
Special mention must be made here of a track I heard a while ago called ” skinny love” by Bon Ivor. I can honestly say I dont think i’ve ever heard a piece of music that struck me as powerfully as this did. Yes , I make electronic music , but I listen to everything ( the sum of the parts ) and try to use everything at my disposal to tell my individual story , rather than limit myself to a 1-dimensional version by listening only to electronic music. Imagine how malnourished you’d be if you ate fish fingers for breakfast , lunch and supper for the rest of your life……….
Anyway , back to Bon Ivor……….He performed the track live on Jools Holland. Just him , a mic , and an old beat-up guitar that looked like someone had been playing football with it , but he made that thing sing. There were no intricate effects to hide behind……no autotune , no beats , just him and a geetar that looked like it had come from an Oxfam fire sale.
It was the combination of the honesty and the simplicity of the track that blew me away. It was a defiance / rebellion against musical formulae employed today to make a weak song sound full and polished . It wasn’t about technique , or choice of software , how do i get that reese bass? , how can i make my wobble wobblier ? , or any of the other 1001 things that modern musicians preoccupy themselves with these days.
Shouldn’t it be about the musical content ?
The goal is expression of life , and me personally , I intend to use every sound at my disposal to that end. If I decide I need a guitar part , am I expected to stop working on my track , take 10 years out , playing ” cavatina ” till my fingers bleed , and some bryan adams / Led Zep numbers till i can play them blindfolded , with my teeth , which are in a glass on the other side of the room , in a powercut , then resume my track , safe in the knowledge that every part I created was truly my own ?
I’ll use loops and samples , but in the back of my mind will be the image of Bon Ivor with his old busted-up guitar , and expression of life is always my aim and my ultimate goal. I’ll never be lazy though , as I’ll strip a loop apart and blow that thing to its atoms , rearrange it , destroy it , implode it , reverse it , and make it my own , but the golden rule……….
If you can but imagine it , you can make it !!