Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Music to My Ears...

I just realized that I have three separate posts listed under "Things I Hate" and nary a one listed under "Things I Love." To avoid the risk of being considered a crotchety old hater, I've decided to start talking about some things I love now and then. Just to balance things out, doncha know?

A lot of times, people will ask me what my favorite genre of music is. Now that I think about it, it's a little strange. "Favorite Music" is a staple for biography sections, like on Facebook and MySpace, and many times, it's one of the first things you'll ask someone when you're becoming acquainted to them. In fact, it's an excellent way to get an early impression of somebody (for better or worse, I suppose). We are so intrinsically connected with music that it seems like it is a part of our souls. A person's preference in music may have a large influence on the types of people they meet, the way they speak, and other such business.

But what about me? What's my favorite genre of music? Well, luckily, I'm not one of those people who gives the cop-out answer, "Oh, I like everything." Nay, my answer is usually, "I like everything except rap and hip-hop." Much better. However, this only actually answers the questions of what I do and don't like, not what's my favorite. I mean, I like both chocolate chip and strawberry ice cream, but good ol' vanilla is my favorite.

When talking about music, I can't help but refer to my iTunes. I currently have 5289 songs on my iTunes player. This is split up into the following categories:

Easy Listening

That's it. My entire repertoire in 13 categories. (I will be honest, my organization system on iTunes is a bit unorthodox. Take "Comedy" for example. While it includes the stand-up acts of Bill Cosby and the humorous music of Weird Al and the Aquabats, it also has music not meant to be comedy, but funny nonetheless, such as David Hasselhoff [a guilty pleasure].)

Now, let's take a look at how much is in each section, not by how many songs there are, but by the total amount of time it takes up (I find that to be a better gauge, especially when dealing with 10 minute long pieces and the like).

Alternative - 1.7 Days
Blues/R&B - 8.2 Hours
Classical - 1.2 Days
Comedy - 6 Hours
Country - 2.5 Hours
Easy Listening - 22.6 Hours
Folk - 16.3 Hours
Oldies - 3.2 Hours
Religious - 2.1 Hours
Rock - 3.6 Days
Soundtrack - 3.1 Days
Techno - 1.8 Hours
World - 1.2 Days

(That's 13.6 Days total, in case you were wondering. I can hypothetically listen for two weeks straight without hearing the same thing twice.)

As you can see, there's a wide variance in the amount of time and space on my hard drive devoted to each genre. In order to trim the list a little, let's only have music I have more than 1 day of (sorry, Easy Listening).

Alternative - 1.7 Days
Classical - 1.2 Days
Rock - 3.6 Days
Soundtrack - 3.1 Days
World - 1.2 Days

I think you can see a little bit more cohesion here. You could pretty much lump all of these into two big style categories. Still, a list of five is too big. So, we're going to prune this baby even more (NOTE: I do not endorse the pruning of babies). We're only going to have genres that have three or more days of content on them.

Rock - 3.6 Days
Soundtrack - 3.1 Days

Wow, a battle of titans for the affection of my ears! As you can see, these two juggernauts together make up almost half of my total music selection. And as you can see, Rock has a half-day lead on Soundtrack. So that means Rock is my favorite music genre!


Actually, no.

The truth is, my favorite kind of music is the Soundtrack.

"Why didn't you just say that at the beginning of the God-damned post!"

Because where would the fun in that be? Now, where was I? Oh, yes, soundtracks! I love soundtracks! I personally think they are the greatest form of music there is, and with good reason. I put it best in a letter I wrote over a year ago, and so instead of futilely trying to paraphrase myself, I think I'll replicate that snippet here:
"I have this to say: movie soundtracks are a completely and regrettably overlooked genre in our society. There are radio stations for almost every type of music imaginable. However, in my 18 years, I have never found a single K-TRK, Soundtrack Radio, or anything like that. It’s a shame, really. Now, I love classical music. But I am going to take a risk here and say that soundtracks are *better* than classical music. Of course, I’m speaking of the epic orchestra-style soundtracks, with such headliners as Hans Zimmer, John Williams, James Horner, Howard Shore, and their ilk. They are able to take the majesty, the grandiose nature, the intricacies, and the beauty of classical music, and they can do something very special: they can add genuine emotion to it. Of course, many classical composers were able to get some emotion, but not to the extent that the modern masters can. Listen to the “Gladiator” soundtrack, and tell me you hear it with nothing but a hard heart. Listen to “The End of All Things” on Howard Shore’s “The Return of the King,” and tell me you can keep your stoicism. If it’s not impossible, you’ll find it’s exceedingly difficult to do. With nothing more than instruments, these people can extract pure emotion and have it flow to our ears in a ribbon of musical beauty. And yet, they enjoy so little attention, save for a possible Oscar nomination. But I feel that 100, 200 years from now, that is the kind of music that shall endure."
I still stand by every word (except for the part that says I'm still 18. I'm a bit older now, and I still haven't been able to find a Soundtrack station).

Now, my most recent soundtrack is one I actually paid decent money for, as it's near-impossible to find in the US. And you know what? I'd say it's well worth it. This was the full-three part soundtrack to the Anime television show Fullmetal Alchemist (which, by the way, was an excellent series, and I don't even really care for Anime). I took the three parts and combined them into one super-long soundtrack (relocating some J-Pop to a separate folder along the way), and I came out with an absolute masterpiece. I decided to share a little of this with you, just to give you an idea of the auditory euphoria I get to partake in every day.

Brothers: You might actually remember this one; I posted it in my Superbowl piece just yesterday. To me, it conveys a kind of peace with a bit of pining thrown in.

Brothers (Instrumental): This is the same piece as the last, but only instrumental. What I want you to do is listen to this while looking at old pictures of you, your family, and friends from way back when. Tell me you don't become a bit sentimental.

Conversion: I find this piece has the right amount of piousness and creepiness mixed together. I could probably see this being played as background music in my future mansion.

Ephemeral Existance: I've said time and time again (well, not here, but in life) that I like it when a singer doesn't actually put words to their voice. Words, as great as they are, can sometimes be distracting. I enjoy just letting the pitch and melody carry everything else.

Repentance: I love harmonicas. Er, let me rephrase that. I do NOT like honky-tonk style harmonica playing, like this little boy does. While I appreciate it and think it takes talent, it doesn't speak to me. No, I love 19th Century harmonica playing. The Ol' West style. Slow. Solitary. Standing on the border of strength and despair. That's good harmonica.

Patriotism: This one sounds most like it would be made by my all-time favorite, Hans Zimmer. Heavy percussion. Sweeping tones. Something you wish you could play in a secret radio in your clothes so that people know you're approaching. If I were king, this would make a good royal march song for me.

Okay, I think that's enough for you today. Feel free to save them to your computer and listen to them later if you don't have the time now. But before I go, I wanted to give a list of what artists I think you should look at if you want to enjoy the soundtrack life yourself (as well as some of their best works).

Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Last Samurai, King Arthur, Pirates of the Carribean 2: Dead Man's Chest)
Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)
James Horner (A Beautiful Mind, An American Tail, Braveheart, Legends of the Fall)
John Williams (Every Star Wars movie, Schindler's List, Jurrasic Park)

And there's plenty more where that came from. The Last of the Mohicans, Pan's Labyrinth, The Village, Edward Scissorhands, Plunkett & Macleane, Children of Dune, and any Disney movie. Don't forget video games, either. They have surprisingly good soundtracks nowadays. If you want to know where to find a good selection of soundtracks (and other music) I recommend here.

That's all for now. Goodnight, and may music fill your life!


Unknown said...

You is a Hater but that's ok cause right now in this blog you're gonna take it to a Whole...

it took you 2 paragraphs to say that. that's not even the answer to your own question. that short, typical white boy response. "everything except rap and hip-hop"... no it's not better. it's still a cop-out! Vanilla Ice is your favorite? you like that white boy. damn.


ITS JUST A COLLECTION OF OTHER PEOPLE'S WORK which are cut short; edited for time or to fit into the story and mood of the movie, tv show.
now john willams didnt make a soundtrack he made a score.
scores are cool.
Mixtapes; soundtracks suck
are you inferring that composers were lacking in emotion? far from it! sorry that those scores didnt come with visual aids to enhance you listening experience without your conscience knowledge.
and the reason the new ones are so good is because that have the build up of alll other compsers before them as a foundation, a very big foundation to fall back on for inspiration and excecution of their own pieces

Andrew Schnorr said...

Okay, step by step.

The whole things about "...except rap and hip-hop" being better was sarcasm aimed at myself. Read it again.

You're thinking very narrowly. The term "soundtrack" is defined as "the music or dialogue from a film available on a commercial recording". While you're perfectly correct that the background music is known as the score, the soundtrack comprises both the score and other songs.

According to our good friend Wikipedia, "As a general rule, soundtracks are divided into the score and the songs from (or inspired by) the movie/TV show/video game."

But if I were to say "Scores", where would I leave Andrew Lloyd Weber? Where would I leave Fiddler on the Roof and the Disney Musicals? Those can't precisely be defined as scores, but they definitely are soundtracks. If you go to the Amazon page for the "Music from Gladiator" and you'll see that it say SOUNDTRACK in large letters.

So, while it's true that Mixtapes suck, soundtracks don't. You're definitions are just a bit narrow.

In the end though, I'm always right. ^_^

Meghan said...

What is going on? I like your blog. Soundtrack can be a kind of genre. Anyway, keep on writing. I like it.

Unknown said...

BUT THEY ARE SCORES! And besides Andrew Lloyd Weber's music are musicals not soundtracks. they became soundtrack when they were put into a movie.
they aren't soundtracks until they'er put in a movie. now there are songs inspired by the film. and on the CD they are classified as "Songs Inspired By The Film"
becuase that's what they are! they aren't soundtracks. if they were they would only be called soundtracks. but they aren't. they're Songs Inspired By The Flm. now as a category, Songs Inspired By The Film is way too small so it's dumped into Soundtracks. BUT THEY AREN'T!