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October, 2009:

Rock the jazz & rap the pop

If you take the various musicians across the world, what do you see in common: Well, there seems to be in them an unquenchable thirst to dress badly.

Anyway, much as they may have in common, there are many characteristic traits that make them to stand apart and look silly in their own unique way. For instance, what Eminem raps and Luciano Pavarotti crooned are beyond the understanding of most normal hearing men. Yet, there are major differences between them, especially since one of them is dead while the other is alive and kicking (mostly literally).

To appreciate the various popular brands of music, you need to understand many other things in life. Hence, this quick bite-sized info- package, based on the ultimate truism of music: You need not be an expert to fully parody music.

Pop

From Elton John down to Michael Jackson, through the likes of sundry others whose names I am too lazy to figure out, it has been one long playing record of abnormal human beings in the world of pop.

The true greatness of pop music of course, however, lies in the fact that it is a unique genre of music which has the inherent capacity to throw up even more weird set of human beings as fans, especially of the type who normally don’t mind buying a piece of Jackson’s cemetery as if it were a piece of prime real estate. These are the pop music buffs who make Madonna, in comparison, look like a fully paid-up member of Missionaries of Charity. These are the hardy souls who are still ready to fork out a king’s ransom even today if a  music troupe member’s underwear is up for sale.
What is the rationale behind such impassioned following? What drives lay listeners to such levels of extreme, almost extremist, adulation? What is the core of pop music? And more importantly, how does one produce it? If you thought I would answer such questions then you are mistaken. If I had known how to sing like Bryan Adams wouldn’t I be behind the mikes rather than labouring with this silly piece?

By the way, just a word on Elton John: It is debatable whether his music falls under the ambit of pop, but there can be no debate on the good old Elton himself, he surely doesn’t fall under any category earmarked for human beings.

Rock

The true icons, the cult figures as it were, truly belong to this hallowed group. Elvis Presley, Jim Hendrix, Jim Morrison… they aren’t the pin-up idols for nothing. Rock music, all critics agree, is that head-banging rhythm and the agreeable rambunctiousness that can emerge out of minds possessed of the genius of psychotropic substances.

Drugs are the central part of this music, and hence the eponymous term ‘rock’ star. Take out LSD and other hallucinogenic stuff, you butcher the kindred soul of rock music. To truly appreciate and understand the multi-layered texture and tone of rock music one has to truly appreciate and understand the multi-layered texture and tone of dope and grass.

If there are anyone more doped out than the rock singers then they have to be the junkies of rock music, who are in such a stupor that they are still waiting outside Elvis Presley’s house waiting for him to emerge out. For the record, Presley died in 1977.

Though all the chemicals of this world and the other galaxies were coursing through his veins at that time, Presley, it is widely believed, died of extreme strangulation of his reproductive organs by the one pant that he first wore in his teens and couldn’t come out of till his death several years later.

Not all rock singers are crazed and dimmed by drugs. For example, somebody like Mick Jagger woudln’t have needed drugs at all. He looked 70 plus right from his teens.

Rap

The emergence of rap music, especially in the 90s, is a truly milestone event in the fascinating history of music, in that it was the first time in the annals that extremely abominable swear words could be classified to come under the category: Lyrics.

Rap music is that special staccato strum and harmonious beat of those special underdogs of life who have the innate talent to wear sun glasses even in the dead of night, especially when inside a room, and think it to be all chic and cool.

The appeal of rap music lies in the fact all its musicians wear, by a conservative estimate, one ton gold on their person thereby making it impossible for the fans to focus on anything else. Rapsters enhance their appeal by strictly adhering to the code that forms the moral foundation to their lives: Wearing their caps with their front at the back.

Dress code: Industry-size pants and hold-alls doing double-duty as T-shirts.

Jazz

When you talk of jazz, you immediately talk of class and style as represented by the orchestra consisting of a solo, off-key sounding trumpet. Yes, it is official and accepted in the groovy world of jazz to be inharmonious.

All the beauty and grand sweep of brassy jazz come out of the fact that both a tone-less beginner and a consummate expert sound the same. The other major attraction of jazz music is that there is only possible tune in this genre: Put your mouth into a trumpet/trombone and produce a bout of creative sneezes and coughs to the accompaniment of an uninterested drummer. Voila jazz and its alluring jingle.

In the infinite possibilities-filled universe of music, only the Scottish bagpipers in kinky skirts come anywhere close to this. For the uninitiated, the sound of bagpipe is not dissimilar to a rheumy fart.

Western Classical

Champagne. Caviar. Cruise. What do they all remind you? All overrated stuff for which you pay a fortune under the belief that you are elegant and possess a certain élan. Classical music is no different, as it is laid down by law and a special charter of UN that you cannot be called a posh person unless you begin to nod your head in seeming appreciation of hundred violins and a unitary piano shrieking in unison in front of a conductor trying desperately to distract them into dissonance.

If you look at history, it is uncanny how those masters like Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky shared a special style: A tuxedo. Yes, tuxedo is the secret to producing classical stuff. If Michael Jackson had the good style sense to sport a tuxedo, he would have been slotted alongside the likes of Beethoven and Handel. Luckily, Jackson had no sense at all and hence managed to become a star to rival all stars before, after and in between.

Opera

Opera is a Web browser and Internet suite developed by the Opera Software company.
Oops sorry, this is the problem with Google; you look for one particular thing, but it throws up links for some other thing. Anyway, operatic music was possibly invented in a bid to artistically understand what happens when a person is tortured to scream at the top of his voice with the avowed intention of not allowing even a cryptologist to decipher even a single word of it.

Opera throws up a wad of terms like libretto,  coloratura, soubrette, spinto, soprano, mezzo-soprano, alto, tenor, baritone, bass, countertenor and castrato.

But the best way to enjoy operatic music is to ignore these high-falutin terms and just lean back lend your ears to it happily.

And yes, don’t forget to stuff the ears with cotton.