Sunday, February 27, 2011

Eclectic musical taste

If I could mark a type of music that I am really attached to recently, it would be indie music mixing electronic music sensibilities with real instruments and intelligent composition. I suppose the two artists that have turned me on to this have been Owen Pallett and Patrick Wolf. They are similar in that both have some classical musical background and can play various instruments, but they are also each young and angsty.

Owen Pallett is young and angsty.

They're also both gay. I don't know if there is a gay musical sensibility. Perhaps there is and I have it. There you go, I listen to "gay." They sort of look alike too though. Maybe I just like listening to tall skinny pasty white guys.

I am reminded of the appeal of music by Tattle Tale or Magnetic Fields. I suppose that Magnetic Fields isn't quite as electro-oriented as Owen Pallett, but every song is different, has different instruments, and a unique melody. Ukeleles, organs, trumpets, and lots of violins. By comparison, guitars are just boring.

This all sounds very modern to me. Maybe it is an old style that my personality has just come to be acquainted with. However, here is my theory. 30-50 years ago, kids who learned violin or cello knew that they would be playing classical music to dwindling crowds of uninterested sixty-somethings. I suppose that the occasional violin strung its way into a Beatles song (at least the sitar did, but that was a hippie thing). These were exceptions though.

The kids who wanted to learn violin in the past 20 years haven't wanted to play just to their grandparents. They grew up with much more excitement. They listened to LCD Soundsystem and heard Philip Glass. Given these circumstances, they have had to pave new ways with their musical talent. They can add drama and innovative style to classical pieces, as Hahn-Bin has done (below), or they can rock out their cello in cheesy 8-bit style. I'm glad things have moved in this direction.

Supposing that I can write...

I'm going to give this blogging thing a try. It's perhaps the modern version of keeping a journal. At the very least, it feels freer than writing somewhere like Facebook or LiveJournal (even). And I really want somewhere where I don't have to try to sound smart to other academics and can occasionally make silly statements (not false ones I hope). LiveJournal is the old platform with very few of my neurotic gay friends (and I don't know anyone gay who isn't also neurotic). Facebook has become the professional platform. So, where is the space for randomness? for occasional poetic license? for freedom of creation? I guess I'll try to make it here.

I suppose that it is fitting that I discuss writing in my first post. I can write socially. It's just like chatting with new people. I rarely make many mistakes. It's when I start to try to sound intelligent that I get into trouble. And as an academic, I suppose that I have to sound intelligent most of the time. I'm scattered though, stereotypically scattered and lost in thought. I'm Doc Brown in Back to the Future, but without the car or the zany haircut.

I monkishly approach writing research papers. I amass incredible amounts of random lists. I write down disparate ideas on scrap pieces of paper, folded in half, on ripped-out notebook sheets, in notebooks, in margins, in textfiles on my computer, and in "commented-out" spaces in the actual LaTeX document of the paper I'm writing. My notes are, at times, intelligent. At other times, unintelligible. Though, as a linguist, I have to be on special alert. After all, the committee who reviewed my paper is standing on my shoulder and staring down at my tangential style of writing with head-shaking disapproval.

Well, not really. Perhaps this is even what prevents me from writing more clearly. When I read colleague's papers and other published papers, I feel like I'm just a clown trying to bash the keys together in order to create actual prose. I really really have to be in the right state of mind with the stars properly-aligned to create an academically-responsible text.

It's not that I am lazy. Far from it. I can get research done. I can read a lot and I can focus on things for hours at a time. I just don't like writing for academics. They're a tough crowd. I am afraid to write even the smallest statement without some source for my words. I end up getting side-tracked mid-sentence for a source to some minimal assumption that I wish to make. I expect to get attacked for stating that the earth is round without citing Galileo himself.

Anyways, it is late as I write this, so I will probably soon stop making sense. I have no idea how I am going to finish my revisions to my paper by Monday. I have an immense amount of work to do and I am afraid to ask for an extension of a few days. After all, that's admitting weakness, no?

I promise (if anyone ever reads this) that all my posts will be incredibly interesting and change your life forever. At least I think so.