Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Music and Pseudo-Music

Wikipedia is so useful. Here is the complete entry on "pseudo":
The prefix pseudo- (from Greek ψευδής "lying, false") is used to mark something as false, fraudulent, or pretending to be something it is not.
I love anything that quotes Greek using the Greek alphabet. That's me, pseudo-intellectual snob. I have tried to learn classical Greek, I have the big, thick text by Hansen and Quinn on my shelf, but I didn't get much past the alphabet. Maybe someday...

The Greeks seem to underlie so much of our civilization. Every word that begins with "ps" or "rh" is from the Greek. Psychology, of course (invented by Aristotle), but also philosophy, physics, geology (from the Greek γῆ, , "earth" and λόγος, logos, "study"--thanks Wikipedia), history, poetry, tragedy and comedy. Of particular relevance to us are the words music, harmony, melody and rhythm (from Greek ῥυθμόςrhythmos, "any regular recurring motion, symmetry"). Now that I've blinded you with science (from the Latin), or history at least, let me get to my topic.

There is music and there is also pseudo-music. Reminds me of something a wise old violist and teacher once said: "there is talent, and there is also anti-talent". There are varying grades of music:
  1. Music: the good stuff, hand-made from the finest materials, made to last forever
  2. Dull music: not very interesting or original, but it makes the attempt
  3. Annoying music: tries to get your attention by bullying the listener
  4. Bad music: really poorly made, ugly seams, lumpy ideas
  5. Soppy music: that uses melodramatic cliches to try and manipulate the listener
  6. Pseudo-music: tries to ape the qualities of the real thing, by pretending to be something it is not
  7. Non-music: fails to meet the most basic requirements.
OK, now the fun part will be finding examples of each of these. It may take a while as I will have to dig around. You can't just search YouTube for pseudo-music, you know (though if you do, a lot of odd things come up). In the meantime, just think of this as a semi-serious update on the old joke about conductors. You know, there are three kinds of conductors: conductors, semi-conductors and choral conductors.

Thinking back, I think I have already put up examples of most of these categories on this blog.

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