The most important thing in music for me is the sound. I’ve been thinking about a less stupid way to say this, because of course music is sound. But I’m not schooled in music so I don’t really know how else I can say it. Melody and rhythm are secondary to the sound. There’s very distinct sounds to different music and I simply like some of it better than others.
I actually already covered instruments in a (very punny) blog post before.
A String Of Seductions
All music is special, but I soon realized one sound was a different kind of special. The violin was more than just an…
I love strings. When I got to choose an instrument to learn to play, I deliberately did not choose the strings I liked best. I think in fear that if I did, some of the spell would be broken. So I choose harp. Still strings, still a lovely sound, but I didn’t have to suffer through hearing the instruments I loved best being misused by my own hand.
That doesn’t mean the strings are the only magical sound. The one sound moment that will always stay with me, had nothing to do with strings. I was working a summer job at a Philips factory; packing clips to hold up the glass in televisions. The work was done on the same floor where those clips got punched out of big sheets of metal. It was a noisy place. A lot of banging and hissing while the machines did their thing.
For weeks it had been just noise. But then one late shift, one of the guys brought a boombox radio and a Nine Inch Nails CD and played Reptile.
And in that moment the noise turned to sound. The whole factory floor was singing along to Nine Inch Nails — not the people, the machines. It really was such a eerie/awe-inspiring moment, I had goosebumps for the duration of the song.
There’s clear sounds and distorted sound and I like it best when I get a mixture of the two. So when you look for clear and distorted strings, Rock and Metal is your best bet.
The next big thing in a piece of music, for me, is the vocals and I prefer them low. Deep voices just do it for me. High voices can be nice in very few occasions but overall I dislike those. Specially when we’re talking about the falsetto of the early days of Rock and Metal, that sounds like nails on a chalk board. Some do it well, like AC/DC, but most of it is horrendous.
I love the voices of Peter Steele and Glenn Danzig, who can go almost unnaturally low. But they sing mostly clean. Much like my strings, I enjoy a bit of roughness on a voice. It’s good when this is naturally, like Joe cocker. But even better when they can create it at will. I love a bit of growl and scream. Not when they overdo it, I’m not a fan of the type of vocals that sound like a demon couching up a lung for 4 minutes.
My favorite vocalist is David Draiman and Disturbed is one of my favorite bands. I can have some problems picking out a song to represent the band but for showcasing what Draiman can do with his voice, there is no other track than his Sound Of Silence cover. First time I heard this I cried. In the hundreds of times I’ve heard it since, I still get goosebumps.
When he starts his rage against the silence (at 2:53 — “But my words, like silent raindrops fell”) I feel it crawl down my back each and every time. I have put on the ten hour Youtube video of this song on repeat to pull me through a shitty workday.
I’m mostly less concerned about the lyrics of a song. I don’t really care if a band is Christian or Satanic, hopeful or suicidal depressive, I’ll listen to anything if I like the sound. (This has freaked people out some, specially when I link songs from Danzig)
That said I do have a couple of songs I listen to for the lyrics. These songs, if I get anxious about having to make a change in life, always calm me down. First is Atreyu’s Lose It, to release that nervous energy. That can take a few repeats.
Loose it will alway be followed by Incubus’ Drive. Drive is sort of my “hang in there” kitty poster; there to motivate me.
When I was a little girl, my first celebrity crush was David Bowie in his role as Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, a movie I still regularly watch. (Yes, I do like fairy tales) There’s a scene in that movie where Sarah yells “That’s not fair!” Jareth replies “You say that so often. I wonder what your basis of comparison is.” Sarah goes on to kick ass no matter how unfair things are.
Growing up, anytime I felt things were just plain unfair, my mind would promptly drag up Jareth asking about my bases of comparison. Not just to force me to take a wider perspective, but to remind me to kick ass anyway.
These days, I have the song Prayer to do pretty much that same job. Anytime I get frustrated with setbacks I’ll listen to it. Hearing Draiman state that living just isn’t hard enough, is oddly comforting.