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Sage Bonnie Humphrey,
This documentary feature, produced in association with The Grammy's, looks at the history, songwriting, and recording process of five different genres of music through the eyes of 5 of the most influential producers/DJ's in the world as they create new music tracks with influential collaborators from rock, country, classical, R&B and jazz. Written by
Interesting but these guys for the most part aren't composing music.
Watched this on cable the other day in hopes to get some insight into the "new contemporary scene". The story goes "watch five distinctive DJs collaborate with some of today's biggest musicians to discover how our musical past is influencing the future."
To sum it up (and I completely admit this is being written with a definite snob analog musician view point) -- our musical past is wonderfully diverse and original with talented musicians who created some serious magic -- but the "future" is ill equipped to produce anything truly musical. I believe only Ronson actually picks up an instrument. Don't get me wrong, if one wanted to drop some illicit and rage for an evening I can see why you would like this type of thing. Hell, I remember listening to "Careful With That Ax Eugene" over and over completely out of my head when I was a kid and people didn't think that was music, but at least you could actually classify that as "original composition".
It is however worth watching if for nothing else but Pretty Lights discussion with Dr. Ralph Stanley. How absolutely awkward. You know Stanley's thinking..."kid, you have no clue what you're doing do you?" The man has Nashville royalty in the studio and no idea what to do with these great players because he simply cannot communicate his ideas to them. This clip should be shown in music production classes as "how not to run a session".
Sonny John Moore actually mentions that he use to play an instrument, too bad he doesn't actually play anything himself here except for a MacBook Pro leaving all the real musicianship to The Doors, who do an amazing job making something out of thrown together drum loops going by at 170bps while Skrillex bops around the studio playing air DJ.
DJ Premier takes a few music lessons so kudos, I found this very interesting to watch, but then has the nerve to say he "composed" his piece which consists of bits and pieces cut from classical compositions by the masters, like you know, that hip gangster Beethoven. If anything, Premier is simply an editor/arranger here, not the composer.
Ronson, OK right on, finally someone picks up a guitar, someone discusses lines, melody and communicates some actual musical ideas to the players in the room. This was nice to see and very entertaining with a great group of players along with the always cool Trombone Shorty. I honestly dug this groove. Badu however can only come up with some lame lyric about Gumbo....really?
TCM, no idea what they were actually attempting here but I can think of nothing I'd rather avoid more than these two on stage...what a bore.
All that said, I still give it a 7 out of 10. It's important to know what an industry thinks of itself. This was after all produced in association with the Grammy's which goes a long way to confirm all my thoughts about those awards.
If you're reading this and disagree about each bit, that's cool and I may be completely wrong about Mr. Skril, but I do want to leave you with a suggestion. Go listen to some Frank Zappa, you'll learn a thing or two about real musical genius, composition and even how computers were used to render these compositions -- then the conversation can continue from a solid point of reference.
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