Yes, Even More, Re: How To.

Mark Klemola (
Tue, 03 Jun 1997 10:46:16 -0700

>> This is a GOOD discussion. Let's talk some more. Could somebody tell me
>> some short definitions of the popular kinds of music today? I felt ignorant
>> because I couldn't pick out hip-hop, or house, or grunge music. I don't
>> know what it is. Let's have some definitions.
>That would be GOOD for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that
>everyone over 45, of which there are a lot who want to listem, would
>then have an idea what these terrible short titles really mean,
>music-wise, and not reject them out of hand. Wouldn't it be nice if we
>could expand the audience a lot?
>I think I'll give this a shot, but, I have to warn, as I stated earlier, I
know nothing of music (In the Technical sense) so please remember this one
opinion of someone approaching the age of 30 (HA!).

Let's begin with Grunge, which is by now, a dead flash in the pan (and
thankfully so). Of Grunge I know a little having lived in Vancouver most of
my life, and often having travelled to Seattle with Vancouver bands such as
DOA and TankHog and the Boredoms (of Japan, and John Zorn fame). I describe
Grunge as simply a melding of Heavy Metal aesthetic values with those of
Punk. It represents (well, represented) the (non)values of disenfranchised
white kids caught between white bread (North) American values, dreams of
Reagans and Bush family values (ie. the popularity of the Brady Bunch) and
the recognized need for new acceptence and representative change in the
diaspora that is (North) America. Somehow these people understood the need
for change, yet because of their collective socialisation couldn't quite see
their way to giving up all the privilidge that being white has to offer.
Grunge to me represents this kind of schizophrenic state. Dispair, apathy,
etc... For a good example of what Grunge is about, without the hype, check
out MUDHONEY on the SUBPOP label.

Hip Hop describes the frustration of Black American youth culture towards
those same white elites (as described above) that pay lip service to
concepts of equality and acceptance, yet because of their deeply rooted
cultural beliefs still act out the roles of power that I'm sure we are all
familiar with, prejudice, seperation, fear, etc... lets call that hypochrisy.
Technically(?), Hip Hop uses break beats and sampling. (Yes, sampling again)
I see sampling, as I stated earlier, as a kind of recombinant use of
language, the sign. It subverts the power realtionship of the original such
that the artist is able to reclaim and remake the meaning according to their
own beliefs, thusly reclaiming the power previously unavailable from their
marginalised positions.
The difficulty with this concept is, of course, that I am still defining it
from a position of the powered elite. Something which is unfair, because Hip
Hop exists as an independant art form, not necessarily defining itself as a
reaction to white elite culture. Perhaps others would have more to add?

This House stuff is pretty much a grab all phrase to descride various hybrid
forms of Hip Hop, Techno, Jazz, Reggae, etc... I guess we can trace this
back to Detroit of the 1970's and early 80's, but it really began in a lot
of independant pockets all over the GLOBE, with participants often barely
aware of others. Today it is all very visible and marketable. I'd have to
say these forms owe a lot of their development to European experimentation,
much more so than the two previously mentioned forms. And Europe still seems
to be the place where this form is most widely accepted in the mainsrtream.
As an example of this I'd like to suggest FUNKI PORCINI "Head Phone Sex" on
the NINJA TUNE label out of Britain (several recordings available), I think
there is something here for even the most astute scholars. A great example
of the new flourishing hybridity in pop music.

Other things... I'm not sure how many of you care or even know about
Canadian politics, but we had a federal election yesterday. Seems the scales
have shifted to the right, the Reform Party having advanced to the position
of official opposition. The Reform Party is basically a populist party,
capturing the vote of the radicle right. The type of folks who store weapons
in underground bunkers and chant the law of God with frightening zeal.
Others would say that my description is soft, so I'm not to far off. Anyway,
a lot of Canadians are going to be holding their breath for the next 4
years. Watch for the interesting developments on your personal pipeline to
the media.