Monday, 17 January 2011

I'm not a muso, musings (Part 1 & 2)

Minchin is an absolute waltzer! I mean it - he just loves that funky 3:4 time.

Several times recently I have been struck by the growing number of his songs which are in that time signature. I have been swept away by fantasy-visions of ballrooms full of ladies in cinderella-style voluminous skirts twirling, viennese style, as the 1-2-3, 1-2-3 swirls and weaves its spell.

I want to dance to Minchin-music. I want a vast extravaganza of theatrical gorgeousness, with me in the middle of it all. (Maybe, if Tim gets to create his own dream musical, it might be one featuring one of those amazing set-piece full scale dance numbers - a great big beautiful waltz
- the kind that no-one can afford to stage any more.)

As it is, I have already experienced a sense of being stifled when at his recent live gigs - having to sit, rather than being able to stand up and bop around to the funky bits. The waltzing-urge just takes it a stage further.

Lullaby is the one which Tim overtly refers to as a waltz, but there are quite a few others that you could just as easily waltz to, cos definitely 3:4. White Wine in the Sun (and Drowned - I think?) are the other key ballads that are in waltz-time. Even bits of Cheese (and Tim waltzes around himself at that point in the song).

What about Teenage Years - it sounds syncopated, but I think it's possibly also 3:4??

What else? I may need help identifying them (looks silly if I can't make a decent sized list: not much of a thesis if I can't come up with at least a few!)

Matilda? Any waltzes in that? There's the 'don't cry little girl' song by the escapologist (later it's sung at the same time as My house, but can't really remember the latter or its time sig). Then there's the strange little song Trunchbull sings, about the dwarf folding paper hats with his mind ...and horses - I think that's in waltz time. But I thought I had spotted one or two others. Hmm - further pondering required.

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I also want to write about the song Beauty (not in terms of its time signature, but rather its lyrics and melody - it's oddly haunting and elusive while at the same time niggly. It's not a hugely popular number - and I can see why, but I'm driven to delve into it further: at the point I thought I'd worked out what it meant, I suddenly realised that Tim knew only too well the inadequacy of what the song 'seems' to be saying, and that the critique is itself part of the intention - the listener isn't supposed to unquestioningly agree with the singer-persona. Superficial beauty isn't true beauty, surely? The deliberate irony of it being a song against beauty/ the ease of 'beauty', in music, which is itself beautiful, ( although sung by a man whose voice - while suitable for a rock god - is by no means a 'beautiful' one: I am left wondering what the song would be like if sung by someone like, say, Josh Groban? I would love to hear that.) yet it's at the same time jarring lyrically - and musically, although I'm not quite sure how - so that the emotional attachment to the song doesn't happen - hence the bemusement of audiences - how are we supposed to react? It enacts its thesis!

But he does do beauty, of course he does - he certainly moves people with songs like Not Perfect and White Wine in the Sun, both of which are songs with lovely melodies, plus quirkiness, lyrical beauty, integrity and depth: in a word, truth (while avoiding those dreaded cliches). Humour and Beauty need not be mutually exclusive: beauty need not be uber-sombre and serious, surely? Is it about sincerity? True Beauty should be sincere, perhaps? Is that the problem?

The problem, perhaps, is that of the 'Meta'-view mode of thinking - which has a distancing effect, rather than allowing oneself to be fully and wholeheartedly swept away by the thing itself. I detect a suspicion of profundity too.

But why is beauty described as a harlot? Harlotry to me implies a form of (self?) deception for an easy (no-strings) contractually-based emotional/sexual release.

So, is it about the economic rewards of the songs that Mr Sony would've preferred?

(to be continued)

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