Monday, August 6, 2007

Rockism

(This is a repost from the Society of Gloves' blog.)

According to Wikipedia, "Rockism is an ideology of popular music criticism, coined by Pete Wylie and used extensively in the British music press from the early 1980s[1]. The fundamental tenet of rockism is that some forms of popular music, and some musical artists, are more authentic than others. More specifically, authentic popular music fits the rock and roll paradigm; it is made using the basic rock instrumentation of guitars, bass guitars and drums, and fits the structures of a rock and roll song."

Basically, it goes on to say (or maybe just imply) that multitrack recording was perfected in the 1970s, with great microphones, reel-to-reel tape, and engineers (and producers and musicians) who knew what they were doing. A lot of newer technologies, like synthesizers and Pro Tools (both the program and the generic-use term, like "photoshopping") are under suspicion as to not produce music in the most genuine form. Also according to Wikipedia (in the same article): "Design critic and indie pop musician Nick Currie compared Rockism to the art movement of Stuckism,[2] which holds that artists who do not paint are not artists."

In an ideal world, the Society of Gloves would love to go into a nice studio, with a great sounding drum room and isolation booths ad nauseam, and record with extremely expensive microphones (several, with optimal placement to record vocals, amplifiers, and individual drums, as well as room ambience) to a gigantic mixing board, which records to dollars-per-foot reel-to-reel tape. Throw in some pricey guitars, basses, and drums for good measure. Nice, warm...rock and roll.

Unfortunately, all that stuff takes money, and while a decent publishing/record deal might provide the budget, you'll more often than not lose your rights (and much of the royalties) to that record company. What once was art (in theory) is somehow intertwined with a money-making machine. That's the music industry for you...

However, it is quite fortunate that we can use something like Pro Tools (without protooling) to record good-sounding music. There's some degree of rock ethos in what we - writing on acoustic guitars for good melody and progression, jotting down ideas on paper notebooks and tape recorders, etc.

And when it comes down to it, it is possible to use Pro Tools without excessive protooling, as it is possible to use Photoshop with excessive photoshopping. It's about creating these moments of real musicianship on a (slightly colder) digital medium, without fabricating those moments. And if we can do record some good rock and roll at a rock bottom budget...maybe one day, we'll get to use what the legends used when they recorded their classics.

(Besides, rearranging songs - at the demo stage - is beyond fast using Pro Tools or Garage Band or ACID or Cakewalk, etc.)

Here's to rock and roll! Do the code!

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