Instrumentality

Good day all,

As I sit here and listen to the EPs of the band Vasquez I can’t help but be astonished of their ability to make what is basically noise and turn it into an outstanding display of musicianship and music. As I listen to these songs I try to isolate certain sounds so I can understand what they would sound like alone. In a particular song Vasquez drummer Jon Adams hits the cymbal in a constant strike that by itself sounds like noise. The type of noise that my 4-year-old son makes on his drum set. But together with the music of Ciaran Mckenna and Sean Quinn a remarkable and beautiful song is created. This type of talent floors me!

I think I am also a little more impressed by how instrumental bands create music more than bands who use singers. One reason is it seems when you are using a singer and are writing a song you are telling a story and the lyrics can be created before the music or vice versa, or they can both be created together but an instrumental band has to be able to tell the story without the words, only the music. Maybe instrumental bands write the lyrics only to discard them after they have a firm grip on the story and use their ability to let it flow from the instruments in a coherent form. I don’t know, maybe someone can tell me.

I also think that writing an instrumental piece as a bridge or segway for an album with songs that have vocals is different from an instrumental album. Like I said an instrumental song could be an intro, outro, bridge to a story that the band is telling and that non-vocal song fits the mood. However, an instrumental band has to be able to tell the story with their music alone and that to me seems like a daunting task. I can barely keep two coherent thoughts together writing this post let alone a whole album of songs that work so well together without any words. 

I personally do not listen to a lot of instrumental only music, I am someone who needs lyrics so that I can follow and understand what and artist or group is telling me but I have found that I get lost in Vasquez’s music and sometimes can’t pull myself out. I have had similar experiences with bands in my past that seem to make more instrumental music than vocal, but it seems that a majority of these artists were solo artists and it was their personal vision they where sharing with the instrumental songs. Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Johnson, Kenny Wayne Shepherd to name just a few. When these guys play an instrumental song it gets my attention, and yes I do realize that they are all guitar virtuosos as well, not many drummer led instrumental bands.

But I guess the thing is that if you can make me care and understand what you are doing with a song and make me feel as if I am part of the song,  you are doing what you set out to do. Vasquez did that to me today and the other artists I have mentioned have done it to me in the past. It seems a unique thing to create an extraordinary song without lyrics that makes people feel something that they wouldn’t ordinarily feel. I know that this is a majority of classical music but I am talking about our favorite genres here, to me it is important to give those who create great stories without words a bit of my attention and gratitude. If you don’t listen to instrumental metal or hard rock you should really give it a try! I think like me that you will be mighty impressed with what you here and how the story is told.

Know I have to look into this whole Black Metal Instrumental thing…

Until Later, Peace!

Lurch

Monsters of Rock

Good day all,

When we think about the music we love there are some iconic images that we can always look back on and say”That is what Hard Rock / Heavy Metal was/is all about”. Whether it is an image of Kiss or Manowar standing in front of a wall of Marshall stacks, or of Jimmy Page pulling a violin bow across his Les Paul Custom or even Jimi Hendrix playing his Fender Stratocaster with his teeth, these are all iconic images of this music scene. If someone were to see just an image of any of the above they would know instantly that they were looking at hard rock/heavy metal, and the iconic brands that are in each of the photos is the reason why.

Jim Marshall died last week and with him the fathers of the hard and heavy sound have moved to the great beyond but left us with what certainly is an everlasting imprint on our lives. Think about that for a second, last week I had discussed songwriters and music’s effect on our lives, without these great men, we may not be talking like this about our music, or any other music. What has to be understood is that these men where not just producers of instruments or amplifiers, but also how the sound of hard rock and metal are made as well as how it is recorded. Les Paul himself did an enormous amount of work with early multi-track recording before it was even considered possible or functional. That is another great thought, not only did Les Paul make one of the most distinct sounds in music with his guitars, he helped ensure that when you heard a recording of it, it sounded clear and true. That my friends is a man who understood what his calling in life was.

These men were the pioneers of what makes the music that makes our lives that much better. From Slash playing the opening riff to Sweet Child O’ Mine to Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water  these men imagined, and then engineered their dreams to help keep ours alive. I wrote earlier about the iconic images we have all seen of our favorite musician and how one of the products created by one of these three men was in that picture, these images and the music created by the musicians made us stand in front of our mirrors pretending to be playing a Gibson Les Paul like Eric Clapton, or a Fender Stratocaster like Glenn Tipton, with a stack of Marshalls set up behind us. Granted my Marshalls were made of cardboard and my Fender was a broom stick, but I was jamming!

Although these three great musical minds are gone their imprint on the past, present and future of hard rock and heavy metal is indelible. They will forever be the pioneers of heavy and loud music and they so should be honored. Plus it is a good thing none of them decided to become just a piano teacher, we may have our next Beethoven or Bach but where would our music be? I shudder at the thought!

Song of the Day: http://youtu.be/HH8vjxFIUC4