bignosedcopperking

Poetry and Rap

69 posts in this topic

I don't get this out of those bands at all (and nor do other Objectivists I know who enjoy "heavy metal").  I positively love a lot of Metallica's music; it is confident and assertive, but malevolence I see not. 

One of Metallica's hits include

"The Thing That Should Not Be" with lyrics like:

Messenger of fear in sight

Dark deception kills the light

Hybrid children watch the sea

Pray for father, roaming free

Fearless wretch

Insanity

He watches

Lurking beneath the sea

Great old one

Forbidden site

He searches

Hunter of the shadows is rising

Immortal

In madness you dwell

etc...

Hey, nothing malevolent about music inspired by arch-malevolent-horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

Look, I went through my phase when I read horror fiction, played D&D, and listened to heavy metal in the background. But I'm not going to say that it provided me with any sort of positive spiritual fuel. More likely the opposite, as that and similar music tended to reinforce an angry, unhappy state of mind fairly common among teenage boys. Metallica didn't come in Cello instrumental editions when I was a kid, and they may well be the best of their kind, but I think the genre is angry, rebellious, and negative, and uses instruments in a way that emphasizes aural assault. (Screaming voices, explosive drums, and distorted, clashing thrashing guitars.) These guys are not exactly Captain Von Trapp singing Edelweiss with guitar accompanyment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One of Metallica's hits includeHey, nothing malevolent about music inspired by arch-malevolent-horror writer H.P. Lovecraft.

Is it your standard practice to pick one (or two or three) songs, and discount the entire rest of an artist's body of work (or genre) based on that?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Is it your standard practice to pick one (or two or three) songs, and discount the entire rest of an artist's body of work (or genre) based on that?

I will answer no for myself, but it seems that you want to call it good, because of one or two good songs, out of the many bad. I do not expect all of a record or artist to be good. I listen and then decide whether or not it is most positive or most negative. What ever one decides it must be by objective standards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One of Metallica's hits include

"The Thing That Should Not Be" with lyrics like...

I'm talking about the music, not the lyrics. I agree that the lyrics are usually worthless, but that does nothing to the wonderful melodies that some heavy metal bands have written.

Screaming voices...

By which you mean the vocals are sometimes loud? In the music I'm defending the vocals surely are not atonal, and nor do they sound like a cookie monster impression.

explosive drums, and distorted, clashing thrashing guitars

These are just pejorative descriptors asserting what you've asserted before. Really, I don't mind if you don't like heavy metal, but why do you (and others) feel the need to condemn the genre as such?

I have the biggest smile in the world on my face when I listen to some songs that Metallica and Dream Theater have written. It gives me tremendously positive emotional fuel, even more than Rachmaninoff (although I adore him too). Are you really saying that I'm flat-out wrong about this -- that this fuel that "seems" positive really isn't? Are you saying that when I "grow up," I'll see that I'm trafficking in malevolence? (I don't mean these questions to be in any way hostile; I'm just trying to see if this is really what you are saying, if only so we can agree to disagree.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I will answer no for myself, but it seems that you want to call it good, because of one or two good songs, out of the many bad.

Where did I say I wanted to call it good? I noted that there was a lot of bad and some good. I also said I didn't think it was possible to say an entire genre of music is objectively good or bad. These things should be judged on a case-by-case basis. At most, what one can say about the entire genre of hip-hop or rap (non-)music is, "I don't like it." And that's fine, but that isn't what I've seen people doing in this thread. What I have seen is a blanket condemnation of entire genres, with the only evidence being incidental.

I think it's been sufficiently proven that rap qua rap is not music (rather, it is a form of literary performance), but in order to prove that it is objectively BAD, one would have to do so by means of the essential characteristics which ALL rap shares. Negativity and a poor sense of life are the norm, as are poorly crafted beats and stolen samples, but they are not essential; I have given several examples to the contrary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I'm talking about the music, not the lyrics. I agree that the lyrics are usually worthless, but that does nothing to the wonderful melodies that some heavy metal bands have written."

Exactly why I can't completely stop listening to bands like Iron Maiden.

"God knows that there is heavy metal out there that is terrible. But there are some heavy metal bands who create amazing music -- such as Metallica and, even more eminently, Dream Theater -- that is not only melodic, but downright symphonic and rapturous. Feel free to not like it, but, please, don't turn this preference into a blanket condemnation."

I agree again, I just don't see how it is possible to condemn a song like Orion (by Metallica).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex, we certainly disagree, but I did not believe my description of metal's acoustic characteristics were perjorative. Metal vocalists voices are more than just "sometimes loud," they are quite often simply in distress, or menacing in tone, or simply yelling or screaming. There must be scientific explanations for why the FBI would play heavy metal music (as opposed to, say, Perry Como) at loud volumes to create distress in targets.

Would you regularly play heavy metal music to 2-year old children, (even disregarding the subject matter of its lyrics), and assert that there is nothing about its musical/acoustic style that is potentially disturbing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On a side-note, anyone here who likes heavy-metal and also was into old-school NES as a child should check out "The Mini-Bosses";

http://minibosses.com/

they play heavy-metal covers of NES video game music like Castlevania, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and so on. My favorite is the Mega Man 2 medley, which I think by far is the most talented.

If you just start playing these songs most people never realize what they are and just think them to be a really talented metal song.

I guess in the past since sound/tonal quality was so poor with console games that they had to make up for it with impressive melodies and song-writing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. I would also not play Rachmaninoff's Symphony #1 to children, because, while I enjoy it, I believe that it conveys quite negative and possibly frightening emotional content through its approach to orchestration, its sudden loud drum thwacks, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

P.S. I would also not play Rachmaninoff's Symphony #1 to children, because, while I enjoy it, I believe that it conveys quite negative and possibly frightening emotional content through its approach to orchestration, its sudden loud drum thwacks, etc.

Would you apply this to other forms of Classical Music, such as Beethoven? Carmina Burana? Some Tchaikovsky?

What do you mean when you say "frightening"? Is it a "fear-inspiring" part of the music, or the sheer emotional impact?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Alex, we certainly disagree, but I did not believe my description of metal's acoustic characteristics were perjorative. Metal vocalists voices are more than just "sometimes loud," they are quite often simply in distress, or menacing in tone, or simply yelling or screaming. There must be scientific explanations for why the FBI would play heavy metal music (as opposed to, say, Perry Como) at loud volumes to create distress in targets.

Would you regularly play heavy metal music to 2-year old children, (even disregarding the subject matter of its lyrics), and assert that there is nothing about its musical/acoustic style that is potentially disturbing?"

Would you want your 2 year old children to watch Star Wars Episode 3 and see Anakin nearly burn to death? Would you want them to watch Braveheart and see William Wallace get stretched on the rack then tortured? Would you want them to watch Batman Begins and see the part where the Psychiatrist puts on his mask and scares people?

What would happen if the government put you in a chair, taped your eye-lids open, then played these particular segments in a loop for ten hours straight?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Member

Group: Members

Posts: 131

Joined: 31-May 05

From: Lubbock Texas

Member No.: 474

Warn: (0%)

"Alex, we certainly disagree, but I did not believe my description of metal's acoustic characteristics were perjorative. Metal vocalists voices are more than just "sometimes loud," they are quite often simply in distress, or menacing in tone, or simply yelling or screaming. There must be scientific explanations for why the FBI would play heavy metal music (as opposed to, say, Perry Como) at loud volumes to create distress in targets.

Would you regularly play heavy metal music to 2-year old children, (even disregarding the subject matter of its lyrics), and assert that there is nothing about its musical/acoustic style that is potentially disturbing?"

All you have said here is that certain things in excess/over-abundance are damaging, and, certain things exposed to immature minds can be damaging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Alex, we certainly disagree, but I did not believe my description of metal's acoustic characteristics were perjorative. Metal vocalists voices are more than just "sometimes loud," they are quite often simply in distress, or menacing in tone, or simply yelling or screaming.

Not in the songs I'm talking about, and not if you ask me.

There must be scientific explanations for why the FBI would play heavy metal music (as opposed to, say, Perry Como) at loud volumes to create distress in targets.

Most people would also get distressed if you blared opera music for hours. (Besides, as I said, I'm hardly defending all of heavy metal.)

Are you denying the positive fuel that some Objectivists get from heavy metal music, or not?

Would you regularly play heavy metal music to 2-year old children, (even disregarding the subject matter of its lyrics), and assert that there is nothing about its musical/acoustic style that is potentially disturbing?

I don't know, and I don't understand the relevance of this. There are a lot of things that two year-olds should not experience, but which are potentially great values to adults (such as sex).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would you apply this to other forms of Classical Music, such as Beethoven? Carmina Burana? Some Tchaikovsky?

What do you mean when you say "frightening"?  Is it a "fear-inspiring" part of the music, or the sheer emotional impact?

My point was to illustrate my idea that some sounds have the ability to convey emotional information like distress or anger. For example, a loud, strained voice, or really loud drums and cymbal crashes coupled with minor keys and discordant notes. I'd say Rachmaninoff made effective choices in instrumentation and other choices to effectively convey some negative emotional content in Symphony #1.

Take music by Bartok - his choice of instrumentation and strained tonality make his music a natural fit for horror movies. (I remember one piece of his music fit perfectly in the movie "The Shining"). I doubt any amount of effort re-arranging that basic format could turn it into emotionally positive music.

Similarly, I think both Metal and Rap, in the very nature of their typical sound-content, convey negative emotional content (ignoring their lyrics and ideas).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Similarly, I think both Metal and Rap, in the very nature of their typical sound-content, convey negative emotional content (ignoring their lyrics and ideas).

Well, this is a huge contextual leap. I don't think it's epistemologically proper to make inferences about the spirit of entire genres of modern music (for hip-hop, I am considering here only the sampled tunes or original-live-band-music, not the lyrics) from an analysis of the notes used to convey emotion in classical music.

The backgrounds in hip-hop vary widely for one thing: from the possibly-nihilistic "scratching" (EPMD's Golddigger) to hard funk beats (EPMD's Headbangers) to sampled melody (some tracks on Dr. Dre's The Chronic or Snoop Dogg's DoggyStyle) to sampled jazz (A Tribe Called Quest, Gangstarr, Pete Rock and CL Smooth) to sampled neo-classical (LL Cool J's Crossroads) to original live-band (The Roots, Gangstarr, Diggable Planets).

I sympathize with your pain though: whenever I have the misfortune of seeing today's jokers on television or hearing them on the radio, I am irritated beyond belief. If I hadn't been into the music before, I would absolutely hate it, going strictly by what I see or hear today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Similarly, I think both Metal and Rap, in the very nature of their typical sound-content, convey negative emotional content (ignoring their lyrics and ideas).

Are you saying that your emotional reaction is negative, or that the emotional content of such music (lyrics set aside) is objectively negative?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, this is a huge contextual leap.  I don't think it's epistemologically proper to make inferences about the spirit of entire genres of modern music (for hip-hop, I am considering here only the sampled tunes or original-live-band-music, not the lyrics) from an analysis of the notes used to convey emotion in classical music.

The backgrounds in hip-hop vary widely for one thing: from the possibly-nihilistic "scratching" (EPMD's Golddigger) to hard funk beats (EPMD's Headbangers) to  sampled melody (some tracks on Dr. Dre's The Chronic or Snoop Dogg's DoggyStyle) to sampled jazz (A Tribe Called Quest, Gangstarr, Pete Rock and CL Smooth) to sampled neo-classical (LL Cool J's Crossroads) to original live-band (The Roots, Gangstarr, Diggable Planets).

Very well put.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Esthetic preferences are always a hot topic; this is particularly true of preferences as complex as one's musical tastes. I just want to bring in a couple of points about metal music in particular to get everyone thinking about what I think are important issues in musical appreciation.

What you hear when listening to a piece of music may be nothing at all like what someone else hears when listening to the same piece. An accomplished composer/orchestrator has a radically different experience from your average radio-educated listener when either of them hears a fine concerto. Likewise, a rock and roll guitar player hears something different from the average listener when hearing metal music. Where the average listener may just hear anger and frustration, the guitar player may be inspired by the unique scales used in a song's solo.

As with all art, it depends on your own personal evaluation and context. For example, one of the main reasons that I enjoy metal music is for its emphasis on virtuosity. If, on the other hand, all that you get from metal music is noise and animosity, then of course it is appropriate to evaluate it negatively. One should always hold in mind that a person's musical preferences are surrounded by an incredibly complicated and unique context. The only genre that one could properly sweep away in one broad stroke would be the Schoenberg's and the Cage's who's works, in the end, do not even qualify as musical.

See Miss Rand's essay, "Art and Cognition," in The Romantic Manifesto for her brilliant points concerning these difficult issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IIs there a rap movie equivalent of "This Is Spinal Tap"?

Fear of a Black Hat (1994) is a brutal satire of gangsta rap. It follows mock rappers Tone Deaf, Ice Cold, and Tasty Taste. If I recall correctly, its very, very funny.

Here's the link at IMDB:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106880/

Check out the hilarious quotes page (scroll down for link)

"We anti violent, anyone says different, I'll bust a cap in their ass. "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
...mock rappers Tone Deaf, Ice Cold, and Tasty Taste...

This made me burst out laughing. Hilarious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
See Miss Rand's essay, "Art and Cognition," in The Romantic Manifesto for her brilliant points concerning these difficult issues.

It doesn't take an Ayn Rand to conclude that there are many nihilistically destructive aspects to a great deal of contemporary music.

She referred disparagingly to "the deadening drumbeat of the jungle." She didn't refer to the agonized screaming, panting, and moaning that generally has replaced singing; to the self-destructive stupidity that leads many listeners and performers to actually damage their own hearing with high noise levels; to the use of massive dissonance to assault the mind; because she was writing in an earlier, culturally cleaner decade.

See her article "Apollo vs Dionysus" for more relevant comments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
She referred disparagingly to "the deadening drumbeat of the jungle."  She didn't refer to the agonized screaming, panting, and moaning that generally has replaced singing; to the self-destructive stupidity that leads many listeners and performers to actually damage their own hearing with high noise levels; to the use of massive dissonance to assault the mind; because she was writing in an earlier, culturally cleaner decade.

This "cleaner" decade was the sixties, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This "cleaner" decade was the sixties, right?

Absolutely.

Though some of the bad elements I mention were present in a few songs as early as the 50s. Those of us who lived through the 60s could see a deterioration, with each passing year. There were fewer and fewer beautiful melodies; more and more songs with heavy, deadening beats.

I just happened to be

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites