Thursday, August 30, 2007

opus no. mormon

remember when i spent an entire year playing 'music' for a certain byu performing group? remember when i sold myself for a year just to get a free trip to china? the experience there, and other places, has led me to ask some questions regarding the state of mormon music, and more broadly, mormon art.

first, what, exactly defines mormon pop music? which part of that style of music makes it fit into that genre? is it even possible to create quality mormon pop? there is plenty of quality popular music in the 'secular' music world. however, i have yet to encounter creative, innovative, original mormon pop music (with one exception being ryan shupe's 'walk the walk'). more often than not, talent, virtuosity, and creativity are traded for trite, cliche, and cookie-cutter formulas that are easy-pleasing and even easy-listening. the mormon popular music genre does nothing to challenge its listeners; it does nothing to truly express--it seems--deep and complex emotions that truly reflect the faith required to stay strong in a complicated, rich religion during a complicated time. what is needed to create quality in mormon pop music?

second, the state of serious music is perhaps in a slightly better state in the mormon art world, but not much. it seems in the church as a whole, mormon pop music is overtaking serious mormon music. exceptions include mack wilberg, barlow bradford, robert cundick, and murray boren. but it also seems that few people in the church as a whole even know mos of those names, except for mack wilberg. his music is good, published by oxford university press, but still has a populist pull and steers clear of serious modern music in its orchestration and arrangement.

why is it that in the mormon world, or even in salt lake city, serious music has yet to really catch on? is it the price? are mormons too cheap? certainly the utah symphony has problems selling out, but everyone flocks to the free concerts given by the orchestra at temple square. are we too cheap? or is it that we simply don't understand music? we don't understand everything that goes in to creating serious, modern music? is the solution a series of educational programs?

even the orchestra from temple square is sufffering from this populist turn. if you ask members of the orchestra at temple square, they will tell you that their work is more of accompiament to the choir than creating serious music. they are dissatisfied with this musically, but support it in the missionary sense of the mormon tabernacle choir.

last, i wonder why serious mormon musicans do not really participate in the mormon music scene. if you are a serious classical or jazz musician, you are most likely not involved in mormon music; rather, you are busy in the wider classical music world trying to make a living. the same goes for pop musicians who are creating original work. see, for example, my brother's favorite musician, brandon flowers. how do we make it possible for these types of people to be a part of the mormon music world, perhaps not exclusively, but at least peripherally.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

great expectations, you ever heard of it?

i hope you can name this person.

Friday, August 10, 2007

tiny masters of today

hi. hi. hi.

i don't like to do this (give a report of a concert i attended), but this time i just can't resist. i mean, the yeah yeah yeahs were great and everything when i saw them at webster hall on tuesday. i love them, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. yes, it was great, and yes karen o did scream into the mic while she was pretending to eat it.

but i want to talk about the tiny masters of today. i could write a bunch of stuff and pretend to be witty and cool. i could also pretend i know so much about rock and roll and the ny music scene, but i really don't. so just check out this little band--they aren't the most talented in the world, but they were great and everybody loved them at the show. the kids twelve and the girl is 10. and they are punk rock in its most innocent (is that possible?) and pure form.