Music: It’s About Power and Purpose

I find myself rewatching this 2012 SXSW keynote speech of Bruce Springsteen.

I recall a recent conversation with some fellow. He said that the problem with the music you hear today “is that it’s not pure”.


At that time were talking about rock music. Although I understood his point (he was complaining about how the use of synths and other electronics makes music you hear today… suck), when he said that, the images that went into my head were those of a cable running from an electric guitar to an oversized effects board, then through another cable going to an amp to another cable then through a mixer1. You get what I mean.

His statement was a generational statement. It’s the kind older generations say to the next, and it can be applied to just about anything. The problem with [pop music today] is [too much EDM]. The problem with [a lot of OPM singers today] is [too many octave coverage per song]. The problem with [OPM rock] is [too much pogi rock]. The problem with [Jolly spaghetti] is [it’s not really spaghetti, but it’s the only spaghetti I know].

Having heard many opinions on what defines authentic or original or pure music, the bias rationale has always been based (for the most part) on the music we grew up with or has made a transformative effect on us. We get so nerdy impassioned about it, and we project it on to our peers. I don’t think it should be used as a criteria to judge other’s work by, but should be by which Springsteen has said so well: “It’s the power and purpose of your music that still matters.”

“So as the records that my music was initially released on give way to a cloud of ones and zeroes, and as I carry my entire record collection since I was thirteen in my breast pocket, I’d like to talk about the one thing that’s been consistent over the years, the genesis and power of creativity, the power of the songwriter, or let’s say, composer, or just creator. So whether you’re making dance music, Americana, rap music, electronica, it’s all about how you are putting what you do together. The elements you’re using don’t matter. Purity of human expression and experience is not confined to guitars, to tubes, to turntables, to microchips. There is no right way, no pure way, of doing it. There’s just doing it.

We live in a post–authentic world. And today authenticity is a house of mirrors. It’s all just what you’re bringing when the lights go down. It’s your teachers, your influences, your personal history; and at the end of the day, it’s the power and purpose of your music that still matters.”

— Bruce Springsteen

There’s so much to take away from his speech besides what I quoted above, and so many tangential discussions to branch out to; but it’s the most illuminating.

Power and purpose. The criteria to what any artist should be measured by. To have a purpose for your every creation and summoning all you have and know to amplify it so that everyone would be able to get your message. Bring it and own it. Every. Single. Time.

My thanks to Mike Mirasol for sending me this video link.

  1. I may have gotten this setup wrong. My point remains the same though. ↩︎

On Queue – July 24, 2017

Hi everyone, this weeks edition of Alt-Music Mondays features new tracks from HAIM’s latest album, another new track from Arcade fire that has been on my mind the past week because of that ABBA-esque synth, as well as Mogwai and St. Vincent. If you have Anchor you can listen to previews of the tracks, but you can also listen to the playlist over in Spotify and Apple Music by clicking on the links in Enjoy.

  • HAIM – Want You Back
  • Arcade Fire – Everything Now
  • Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?
  • The War on Drugs – Holding On
  • Beach House – Equal Mind
  • Manchester Orchestra – The Moth
  • St. Vincent – New York
  • Mogwai – Party in the Dark


Spotify: AltMusicMondays

Apple Music: Alt-Music Mondays

On Queue: Alt-Music Mondays

Hello everyone and welcome to Alt-Music Mondays where I send out new alternative music to listen to all week.

  • Alt-J — In Cold Blood
  • Arcade Fire — Creature Comfort
  • Kane Strang — My Smile is Extinct
  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever — French Press
  • Eyedress — Manila Ice
  • Grizzly Bear — Four Cypresses
  • Grace Lightman — Fangs

The playlist is available at both Apple Music (@fhicarte > Alt-Music Mondays) and Spotify (AltMusicMondays) public playlists. Have a great week ahead!

Movie Music: Point/Counterpoint

This post is actually two videos: one is a video from Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting talking about why you can’t remember Marvel film music. The next video would be Dan Golding’s response to the points made by Tony.

The key points I was able to derive:

  • Musical scoring is largely unoriginal
  • The music used in the Marvel films are safe and inoffensive
  • Using a full orchestra is expensive
  • Directors often use temp music to score a film then bring them to composers to produce something similar; this practice is systemic
  • Technology (computers and synths) has helped make the creation of musical scores to be more involved and customizable, but this in turn has also limited the variety of sound you could produce
  • Hans Zimmer was the keyboard guy in black in the “Video Killed the Radio Star” music video
  • The Star Wars theme is actually a remix (see first bullet)

The Marvel Symphonic Universe (Tony Zhou)

A Theory of Film Music (Dan Golding)

I somehow see a parallelism with the current music industry, but I’ll save that for a future post.