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I listen to music through most of my waking life. Whenever my ears do not hear music, my brain compensates for the lack with a private soundtrack of its own. Early on, even before I worked as a DJ in a college radio station, I had a weakness for song compilations. In preparing dozens of those for my friends, on analog carriers, I aimed at developing larger themes, moods that carried beyond the sum of each compilation’s parts. Lacking any explicit training or understanding, I was instinctively mapping the commonalities of song structures, meters, melodies. I have grown to see songs as malleable entities of a very peculiar sort — there are ways of tampering with them, so that what’s unique about them is simultaneously subverted and brought to the forefront of experience. The mix-tape is the most primitive approach to such creative aufhebung. With digital technology it became possible for me to mix songs together seamlessly, sans cassette noise and clumsy cuts. The results are continuous mixes of songs and song parts of various duration and prominence. There is thus, for example, a two-minute stretch in one of my mixes where Goldfrapp’s cover version of Olivia Newton John’s song “Physical” is used as a template over which I have laid in succession a single guitar riff from Interpol’s song “Obstacle 1” and a short phrase sung by Johnny Cash in his “Daddy Sang Bass.” As to my interest and the attendant skill, I believe that the conditions for my musical interpolations simply emerge out of attentive listening.Two of my publications tackle some of the issues music has inspired me to think about.
The first is an article on acceptance and conquest in pop music. In it I tackle the discrepancy between pop music’s claim to originality on the one hand and its derivative nature on the other. The solution I propose has to do with a redefining of the concept of pop music via the parameters of temporality and cultural acceptance. My latest work on music is an analysis of the lyrical content of songs. The article in question proposes a framework for understanding the meaning of song lyrics as indelibly connected to and reliant on musical meaning. In other words, song lyrics are not separate from the music but are best read as part of what can be called the musical text.
All content © Rossen Ventzislavov, 2016.