October 12, 2005

A Few (Bad) Ideas

Thanks for reading. Here's relevant links to this week's article:

The Wesleyan Quadrilateral
Dictionaraoke.org - Your source for such wonderful titles as:
A-ha "take on me"
Beastie Boys "girls"
Britney Spears "oops i did it again"
Celine Dion "my heart will go on"
Fred Astaire "let's call the whole thing off"
James Brown "i feel good"
Linkin Park "one step closer"
Queen "bohemian rhapsody"
and more!
William Shatner
The Bad Music Foundation - THIS SITE FRIGGING KICKS IT. Free bad music and funny album covers. What could be better?
Chicks on Speed.
Rad Monkey Electric Cowbells - This is a joke, people. Nobody is making a digital modeling cowbell, and hopefully nobody ever will.
The Optek Music Fretlight Guitar stuff.

And for good Measure:

Full Text of Article:

Musica Obscura: A Few (Bad) Ideas

Maybe some of you freshmen don’t know this yet, but there are apparently four ways or knowing something: Reason, Experience, Scripture, and Tradition. Everything – all ideas and ideals, all products and cross products, all that is loved and revered – is subject to scrutiny by this quadrilateral. It is with an interdisciplinary, integrative approach that I intend to examine several music-related problems, using the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as a focusing lens for our discussion.

First on the chopping block is the Fretlight 421 electric guitar by Optek Music Systems. This guitar is a copy of a Fender Stratocaster with a few twists. The Fretlight is the guitar equivalent of those “teach-yourself-to-play-piano-by-watching-the-light-up-keys” keyboards. There are little lights underneath the tinted polymer fretboard that tell you where to place your fingers to play a certain chord, song, or melody. The guitar connects to your computer via a USB port and some ridiculous piece of software.

This is a bad idea, primarily, because it violates tradition. Just as the Church has arrived at its dogma for many good reasons (and maybe some bad), guitarists have their own system of beliefs that have withstood the test of time. Elements of the Fretlight’s design contradict this musician’s dogma, such as its plastic fretboard (which they purport to be actually superior to old fashioned wooden ones), the bad posture promoted by the odd angle required to view the lights on the fretboard and play at the same time, and the heretical statements on the site regarding active pickups, outrageous marketing claims (“plays better than any rosewood or maple fingerboard on the market”), and visually horrendous website. The Fretlight simply doesn’t respect the system of values that have come to be accepted among guitarists.

Bad for a different reason is a new web phenomenon called “dictionaraoke.” This strange entity is what emerges after the chance meeting of a Speak n’ Spell and Top 40 station on a dissection table. The formula is like this: 1) Take a midi file of a pop song, 2) have a dictionary “sing” over it, 3) cringe. A Google search (or a visit to the papyrus blog) will afford you hours of listening pain. Consider Dictionaraoke versions of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Robert Frost’s “Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening,” Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, “My Mistress’ Eyes.” These give you a pretty good idea of what is going on here, but you won’t understand until you hear a dictionary confess as passionately as a dictionary can, “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.” Dictionaraoke abuses the Reason portion of the Quadrilateral, mostly because there is absolutely no Reason this sort of thing should exist.

Side note: if you find you like this sort of music, check out albums by William Shatner. You will be disappointed to note that to date, Ben Stein has unfortunately not recorded a solo project. Take heart, however, since the one-and-only Bad Music Foundation is coming to your rescue.

To introduce the Foundation, let’s take a look at a quote from their website: “This Foundation is dedicated to finding the absolute worst music we possibly can, and then distributing it to as large an audience as possible.” They have two sections on bad religious music, a bit on those wonderful celebrity records, and a comprehensive look at patriotic albums throughout the years. Of particular brilliance is the track “The Good Things” from John Wayne’s album “America, Why I Love Her.” Have you ever heard John Wayne rap? I didn’t think so. The John Wayne, more Man than all others (excepting perhaps Earnest Hemingway), urges us in an off-kilter, yet slightly mesmerizing beat poetry to “go to church, and never question why,” and to stop talking about bad things like “war or hurricanes that hit our shore.” Wayne says we should just ignore them and buy little children candy instead. Wesleyan Quadrilateral be darned, if this is not brilliant, I know not what is.

Except for maybe this: Rad Monkey Electric Cowbells. Suffice it to say that some “percussionists” are very particular about their sound. You’re going to have to check the blog for this one, folks. A short trip to http://blog.kordix.com/papyrus will net you links to the mentioned websites as well as links to mp3s of the music referenced in the article. Be sure to tune in next week when we discuss the recent addition of “Google Search” to the Wesleyan Pentagonal Shape. Cheers!

Posted by pedalboy at October 12, 2005 5:34 PM
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