Backup Music, A Work of Art

Did you ever hear someone exclaim “I hate that song that’s playing” while you are thinking “Wow, I love it!”? Ok, why do you love it and he hates the very same song? Usually the same response applies, “I da know” with shrugged shoulders.

Most people just have a gut reaction of: it feels great or it doesn’t. For me, I like to analyze a piece and know why it feels so good… or not. There are a few elements that come into play, (No pun intended) both from the performer, and the listener. More so the latter.

Though I am a professional horn player, before I learn a song, I have to hear it first and react positively as part of the listening public. Sometimes I’ll listen to a song and find the end product to be terrible but still something in there felt good to me. Something just drew me to it. The rhythm section and the patterns and style they played moved me. So I’ll download the song minus the melody (Karaoke) and add my own stylings to the backup music.

I find myself playing the backup music from my cell phone to my blue-tooth in the car radio over and over. If it can stand alone and feel like it can vamp dozens of times and hold my attention, then that’s one of the reasons to “Like a song”. Sometimes the melody is intoxicating or the chords are haunting.

There are lots of reasons to dislike some types of music. I’m of Polish heritage and I can not get on board with listening to accordions playing polkas at a 3 hour Polish wedding more than once every 5 years, or Irish jigs once a year for St. Patricks Day. It’s very subjective of course and some people are just hot wired to enjoy different ethnic music day in and day out.

There are many recordings that are pure works of art no matter how you approach them.

One such example is an old standard “I Only Have Eyes For You” from the 30’s or 40’s. The melody is beautiful, but that is only the beginning. Art Garfunkel, a folk singer with Paul Simon in the 70’s, presented his version of the song that absolutely moved me.

Though his voice was mellow and perfect for that song, how he interacted with the ensemble was really sweet. The other factors that came into play were the chord changes coupled with the chord structures supplying the body of the piece on the electric piano. Not to be forgotten is the subtle sound of the sustained strings flowing sweetly, weaving their way through the piano chords adding a warmth you might not notice, but you somehow felt. The guitar managed to top off everything with tasteful licks like whipped cream on hot cocoa. The percussion was ever present but non obtrusive.

The sound engineer blended everything together like a high end chef preparing the perfect dish. This I consider a… “A Work Of Art.”

You might find all this a little over the top, but as a listener, I love to understand what I am being exposed to. You, on the other hand, might just like to sit back and enjoy the aesthetics of the piece at face value. It’s all good! Just remember, with backup music, I have the option of filtering out a bad element in a piece and enjoy the rest.

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