2517 views Posted by Alex in Misc Articles
There are several definitions of this word in the dictionary, including:
- “A trait marking one as distinct from others”
- “Something uncommon or unusual”

So it’s fair to say that the isolated use of this word implies that something is special, original, or unique. These are things that most, if not all musicians aspire to, in our quest to create art that defines our time on Earth. We struggle to create something that adds to the culture of our world, and in the case of music, our struggle requires the use of technology. Like it or not, without technology we are utterly naked and defenceless. Even an unamplified opera singer depends on the acoustic treatment of their theatre to be heard by those sitting in the back row.

But to quote Morpheus, “fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.”

You see, ‘Singularity’ has other meanings. Among them is the phrase ‘Technological Singularity’, which refers to the point where man’s technology becomes so advanced that it’s superior to man himself. It’s at this point that ‘artificial intelligence’ will be created, as our machines will have developed the ability to think faster and better than us. But this requires our technology to EVOLVE, and implies that mankind will one day become slaves to our machines. There is already evidence of this taking place…. in music, of all places.

Within certain circles, it’s common knowledge that pop music is a brain-washing, manufactured product, designed to appeal to the masses. It’s the McDonalds of music: it’s cheap, addictive, easy to make, and REALLY bad for you. For nearly 20 years, pop music has been manufactured in factories disguised as recording studios – “talented” youngsters are herded in like cattle, stuck in front of a microphone, then sing alongside an orchestra of fake, digital instruments. After this, their usually-inept voice is smashed to pieces by a computer, and then re-built into what we hear on the radio. Then the pretty young thing goes on ‘tour’, either singing with another ‘band-in-a-can’, or a live band which undergoes similar treatment. The end result is NO REAL MUSIC of any kind.

That said, this has been the case with pop music for decades. But other forms of music have successfully retained the human element, preserving that struggling voice which cries out in anger, sorrow, and joy. Jazz music originated from the sub-cultures of America, fostering a culture of rebellion. Together with Blues, Jazz allowed African Americans to empower themselves in a society of oppression. Then rock music became the voice of a generation that rebelled against their parents, politicians, and bosses. Heavy metal built on this idea, becoming a proving ground for those wanting to fight their way out of dead-end lives. This is very much the story of Black Sabbath, who hailed from the working-class town of Aston, Birmingham.

Fast forward to today, and it's a very different story. Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, and the rest of the ‘rebellion’ still tour the world, but play in the same stadiums as Mylee Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry. Meanwhile, heavy metal looks very different; it uses a computer instead of an amplifier, has auto-tuned vocals, the drums are all sampled, and half the instruments are being played by ANOTHER computer. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED???

Perhaps my Morpheus quote is beginning to make sense. It looks like Rock and Metal have succumbed to the same trends that long plagued pop music – mainly, the act of making your music in a ‘factory’. These ‘techniques’ might seem trivial, but they foster song-writing methods that cause the music to be homogenised (or “made the same”). Granted, there ARE differences between each of these bands, but I think they've become so small that they don’t represent the people anymore. In other words, the music reminds me more of the machines that made it than the people who were involved.

Maybe Rock and Metal musicians are subconsciously imitating the pop world…. perhaps because we’re all secretly in it for the fame and fortune? That may sound cynical, but it could be true for some. After all, look how rich and famous our beloved rock stars are! Surely it’s not unreasonable to suggest that many of us are trying to imitate their results, not their methods? Besides, it’s not like the boys in Black Sabbath started the band because they wanted their lives to be EVEN WORSE than they would've been, had they stayed in their factory jobs.

However, I like to think people care more about art than that. I'm sure many of us are just trying to get rich and famous, but I know that at least some of us play music because we love it. Perhaps we’re a rare breed…. maybe even a dying breed, in this increasingly hi-tech world of ours.

But we are out there, struggling away…. trying to be heard over the sound of prosaic polyrhythms, soulless solos, and boring blast beats. In the sea of digital noise, our little analogue dinghy is battered and bruised, but it hasn't sunk yet….

….and it isn't on f*cking Facebook.