Sunday, September 23, 2007

making sense is way difficult

"when a song has two chords, it's about asking a question in one line and then seeing if it can be answered in the next."
that's a line from mark richardson's most recent pitchfork column. for some reason, there's a series called "resonant frequency". what the title means, or what a column needs to be about in order to be a part of the "resonant frequency" club, is anybody's guess.
but i want to talk about the line above, inasmuch as it's possible to analyze anything so careless.
mark thinks that two-chord songs are cool. he thinks it's fun to have two things, one following another. this structure reminds him of a question being followed by an answer. he then writes that two-chord songs are "about" this structure. specifically, he seems to feel most excited by waiting to see if the question "can be answered".
clearly, it's going to be very difficult to understand what the hell he means by any of this, so let's skip that step. let's ponder these questions instead: 1) is this really what he likes about two-chord songs? 2) even in metaphors, how can he claim to know what a song's structure is "about"? 3) does it make any sense to say that a structure is "about" anything? 4) why would you even subject your readers to such banal and narcissistic musical analysis (the song reminds mark of "x", so "x" is what the song is about)?
for the record, i've been known to like some two-chord songs. like any other kind of song, some are good while others are bad. if you try to say anything general about them beyond "they all have two chords," you're probably going to stumble over your english degree and make an ass out of yourself.
ultimately, this is the type of thing an editor would send back with a big red box around it and a few question marks in the margins. the reason the editor didn't do this is because he doesn't exist, and spell-check is not really an adequate substitute.
i guess it's not really that important, because i did look at two (2) separate american apparel ads while reading the column. SUCCESS!!!!

3 comments:

Evan said...

That quote makes no sense. Some two chord songs use the chords consecutively. Question-Answer?-Answer?-Question.
Question-Answer?-Answer?-Question.
What??
I just can't even imagine what he's speaking of. Some two chord songs are drones. And yet some complex forms are established with non-pitch-related material on top of a bed of two chords.... What does this have to do with question and answer? Maybe I should read the quote in context....

Uticas said...

context... context... oh yeah! there's a link provided, but because i've nothing better to do... the column is about nick cave covering an lcd soundsystem song (which has two chords). a general sense of "twoness" permeates the writing.
the song is about getting older (which is kind of like a question). then an old guy covers it (which is kind of like an answer).
then he ends up talking about publicists and youth and einstein and jay-z.
none of which has anything to do with the idea that two-chord songs are "about asking a queestion," a claim which retains its full innaninity even when you put an elipsis after the word "context".

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