Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Some comments on Sylvie's musical tastes
by Dr. J.K.Hamilton

In the general picture of Sylvie's musical tastes, there are several consistent elements that resurface almost constantly, in terms of sound content.

1. Futurism.
Manifested in an attraction to mechanically sequenced synthesisers, vocoded or heavily compressed/filtered voices, and strict quantization in any rhythmic elements.
A certain tendency toward a Germanic/militaristic or clinical style is evident, but interpreted very strictly within certain limits of style.

2. Energy.
This has to be expressed in very precise terms - generally in the style of the rhythm (almost invariably in the type of 8th-note bar divisions popularised in the 1960's).
Energy should be built up in stages, with transitions elevating the level as the piece continues.

3. Emotion.
Outside of the preferred 'futurist' style, Sylvie's music is often characterised by a strong emotional resonance.

4. Melody.
Sylvie's preferred melodies are generally 'naive' in the sense of being simple, strong, and clear, often with an anthemic quality.

5. Atmosphere.
Sylvie has a pronounced preference for atmospheres that suggest a panoramic view of one type or another, especially if the piece builds up and then 'opens' into a wider space.

6. Associations.
One constant in Sylvie's musical taste is that each piece has strong personal associations of some sort, sometimes evoking a certain feeling, sometimes a memory, sometimes an image or series of images, most frequently in an imagined historical past or hypothetical future.

Above all, the function of music for Sylvie seems to be as a kind of voyage into a series of images or feelings associated with the music. The music acts as a doorway into another reality, whether remembered or hypothetical.

In terms of style, Sylvie's music breaks down into two main streams, with a few minor lines in parallel:

Category 1. Concise, rhythmic, highly structured music constructed in a 'pop' framework within certain parameters, but generally sharing a 60's surf/garage derived rhythmic cadence.

Category 2. Religious and classically-derived musics, generally emerging from the music of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and classical vocal music with a 'religious' or sacred feeling.In addition, there is a smaller but significant attraction to sacred music of other cultures (Buddhist, Amerindian, and above all Arabic). Traces of these elements can often be found in aspects of music falling into categories 1 and 2.

It should be pointed out that Sylvie's taste cannot be defined in terms of strict genre lines, but crosses several genres without being bound to any in particular.

Category 1 is very broad, taking in aspects of surf and garage from the 60's, punk and post-punk, new wave, and the electropop sounds of the late 1970's and 1980's. That is not to say that Sylvie likes everything that comes from these genres - they are really just signposts indicating certain stylistic characteristics.
In terms of the 1960's influences, the most prominent is the rhythmic style - most newer music in this category that Sylvie likes uses rhythms derived from the 60's beat groups. The use of cymbals and hi-hats is important, preferably hammering out the 8th-note divisions. The accent should be on the 2nd and 4th beats of the bar (on the snare drum). A taste for this is evident in Sylvie's musical selections up to and including the 1980s. Surf-derived guitar sounds are also very appreciated - the very reverbed, twangy, high-treble sound of the Telecaster, for example. There is also an evident liking for a certain genre of French girl singer - generally the obscure ones rather than the stars - of the ingenue variety. Also, certain influences, particulary eastern, found in psychedelia.
On the surface, the love of 80's futurism so evident in Sylvie's music seems unconnected with these 1960's influences, but a closer look reveals common elements - the driving, metronomic rhythms, clear melodic structures and energetic approach are present everywhere.

Category 2 is both more focused in its scope and deeper in its associations. Sylvie's attraction to sacred music, particularly choral music, seems to lie in the concept of mystery that is central to this sort of music - the idea of entering into and being surrounded by this mystery. Sylvie's religious music tends toward more ancient forms of choral chant - Eastern Orthodox in particular, but also contemporary compositions that borrow from older forms and add to them while retaining the sense of ancient mystery. This can include religiously-themed works from the avant-garde, particularly music that veers from haunting beauty to punctuations of grave, apocalyptic atonality. It can also be extended, in rare cases, to electroacoustic sound, though not of the overly academic variety. In terms of classical music, which is the smaller part proportionally, there is an evident liking for slow, melancholic piano compositions. Pure orchestral music is rare in Sylvie's repertoire, and tends to be quite strident and anthemic, tending toward a preference for composers from Eastern Europe, and a distaste for the theatrical and romantic excesses of the Western classical tradition.

The Non-western influence comes mainly from the music of the Arab world and middle-east, particularly the percussion and female voice. And, as mentioned above, religious music, largely vocal, from Tibet and the Amerindian cultures of North America.