a musical interlude

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Friday, December 07, 2012

Portland Cello Project's cover of Beck's Song Reader song, Old Shanghai.

I love the participatory nature of this project- here's (part of) what Beck had to say about it in the New Yorker:

I thought a lot about the risks of the inherent old-timeyness of a songbook. I know I have friends who will dismiss it as a stylistic indulgence, a gimmick. There’s a way of miniaturizing and neutralizing the past, encasing it in a quaint, retro irrelevancy and designating it as something only fit for curiosity-seekers or revivalists. But although the present moment can exclude the past from relevance, it can’t erase its influence entirely. Each era finds something new to return to; things that seemed out of date have a way of coming back in new forms, and revealing aspects of themselves we might not have noticed before. I think there’s something human in sheet music, something that doesn’t depend on technology to facilitate it—it’s a way of opening music up to what someone else is able to bring to it. That instability is what ultimately drew me to this project.
Read the rest of the article at The New Yorker.

Speaking of what you bring to it - here's a version of the same song played by staffers for The New Yorker - I love that it's a little more living room ramshackle. To me that's the beauty of the project - there's room for interpretation. For multiple interpretations. It's communal and you're invited to sing along.

2 comments on "a musical interlude"
  1. Cool comparison. Meanwhile, I wonder if Beck deliberately put the forced accent on "...underneath THE dark sky..." since a lot of older, pre-war tunes resorted to that kind of hackery, or whether he was merely being lazy (as opposed to meta). I only know that when I hear it in ANY lyric, it puts my teeth on edge, since why put THE accent ON the wrong "sylLABle" of a sung line?! It's an affront to all sensibilities. This has been your rant for the day (hopefully).

    1. Hmmm. I don't know. I didn't really notice it before but now of course I'll never be able to NOT notice it, thank you very much. However, this is forgiven due to your use of "hackery" and "affront to all sensibilities." Quality ranting! It made me laugh and reminds me that I should work 'affront to all sensibilities' back into my own rants.


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