Tag Archives: Mozart

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Outrageous

In my post of a few days ago about pop singer Billy Eilish, I received some very anxious emails informing me she’s more than just a singer with dark lyrics, it seems she’s making outrageous statements about “the occult” and whatnot.

Certainly, if this kind of modern music makes you uncomfortable then, by all means, don’t listen.

On the other hand, if you stop for a moment and think about it, she’s more of a reflection of our times and her age than anything else. And isn’t that the idea behind music? Bob Dylan’s lyrics were a reflection of his time as much as Beethoven and Mozart were.

And music is often outrageous! Gustav Mahler’s music was so outrageous that he was booed off the stage and lambasted as a heretic! Today, we cannot even imagine that it was so.

It’s tough being 18. For one thing, part of your job is to scare the crap out of adults by being outrageous. That’s what we do when we’re coming of age. We test the waters of what it takes to provoke outrage. That’s what Billie Eilish is doing, only, she’s doing it brilliantly. She is saying what’s in the heads of her contemporaries and saying it so honestly that people listen. Which is why I bring her to your attention.

And the conspiracy theories? She’s no more on a mission to convert youth to darkness than Elvis Presley was out to corrupt and subvert his generation. They are/were reflections of their time and age.

Let me give you some examples of past outrageous behavior. We’ll start with the 50s, and work our way through to today. See if you don’t spot a pattern in these photos:

Each era had its outrageous appearance designed to shock the older generation, make a statement of their independence, and put a stake in the ground saying, “I am here. I have arrived, and I am not you.”

That’s how it works.

 

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Stealin’ from the best

Artist Pablo Picasso is credited with an old saying. “Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Composers routinely lift riffs and melodies from each other. In 1775, at the age of nineteen, Mozart composed the “Misericordias Domini,” a six-minute sacred work that is rarely heard today. In it, Mozart employs a melody that would one day be lifted, dusted off and become one of the most famous melodies of all time: the “Ode to Joy” theme that undergirds the long fourth movement of Beethoven’s massive Ninth Symphony.

In 1958, music artist Chuck Berry penned and popularized Sweet Little Sixteen, only to be copied in 1963 by the Beach Boys in their mega-hit Surfin USA. It’s remarkable to compare the two entirely different genres of music—rock and roll “Race Music” to mostly white “Surfin’ Music”—and hear the same tune presented so differently. Those differences wound up in hands of lawyers until the Beach Boys manager (and father), Murray Wilson, agreed to give the publishing rights to Arc Music, Berry’s publisher. It wouldn’t be until 1966 that Berry would actually get credit for penning the song.

There are certainly other examples too, like “Bring It On Home,” by Led Zeppelin (1969) vs. “Bring It On Home,” by Sonny Boy Williamson (written by Willie Dixon) (1966) or “Whole Lotta Love,” by Led Zeppelin (1969) vs. “You Need Love,” by Muddy Waters (also written by Willie Dixon) (1962), or the tune to “My Sweet Lord,” by George Harrison (1970) vs. “He’s So Fine,” by the Chiffons (written by Ronnie Mack) (1962).

There are only 12 notes to work with in western music, yet some combinations of those notes are just too good to pass up.

All composers and musicians stand on the shoulders of those before them.

And some tunes are so good they are worth stealing.