Former Anti-War Activist.
I’ve often been referred to as a musical snob or musical elitist by people. Which is fine.. I’d rather be referred to as a musical snob than just a snob by people. I know I can be picky… but I can’t help it. I like what I like. So I started contemplating what I actually like about the music I like. Here’s the list so far that I’ve come up with. Keep in mind, this isn’t complete.
1.) Intensity and Energy – I like music that pushes the listener. It doesn’t necessarily have to be fast or heavy. An example would be “I’ve Seen It All” by Bjork. The song is neither fast nor heavy. But the lyrical content and emotive vocals really crank the intensity up.
2.) Polyphony- I like it when a band with multiple guitarists actually utilize both and don’t just have them “double up.” At The Drive-In was incredible at doing this. They actually ventured away from the concept of lead and rhythm and even delved into the realm of counterpoint melody. Well not in the strictest sense. But they were on the right track. I also love when the bass is utilized not only as a harmonic device but as a melodic vehicle in conjunction with guitar, keyboard, etc.
3.) Polyrhythms – I love 3 over 2 polyrhythms. I mean tastefully used. Not like all the time. I can’t get enough of it. This tends to happen a lot with metal music, which I’m not always crazy about, but theres no better therapy than moshing at a concert with complete strangers to music you can scream your head off at
4.) 6/8 Time – I love 6/8 time. Not sure why. But it may relate a bit to 3. Again, very common with metal music.
5.) Multiple Vocalists – I like music that incorporates multiple vocalists, preferably with different ranges, styles, lyrics, etc. Screamo does this a lot. But sometimes it seems like its done by convention and nothing more. But I still tend to gravitate towards it. To a lesser extent and a slightly different category, I like when vocalists incorporate a style that is counter to the music being played (i.e. Rage Against The Machine)
6.) Key of D – Again, I’m not sure why. But I gravitate towards songs in this key. A lot of times if I hear a song I like, I’ll mutter to myself, “I bet its in D.” Weird, I know.
7.) Style Changes mid-song – I love it when musicians can incorporate a radical style change in the middle of a song. Not everyone is good at this and it blows when it isn’t done correctly. The prime example I can think of is Mr. Bungle’s self-titled album. Few can match its ability to seamlessly switch styles.
8.) Songs which are led by the bass – I know your initial thinking is Primus. But that’s more a novelty to me at this point. I was thinking more along the lines of the song “In The Meantime” by Spacehog. The bassline drives the song yet is surprisingly simple.
9.) Great Drumming – I secretly think I should have been a drummer, instead of a photographer in life. I mean, I play drums, I’ve owned a drum set, I know how to play…but I don’t play. Its who I always tend to watch. Elvin Jones, you are the man (RIP).
And drummers are pretty cute, to boot.
10.) Non-conventional Voices – Just to name a few, Les Claypool, Cedric Bixlar, Ben Gibbard, Mike Patton, etc.
11.) Incredible Musicianship – This is a double-edged sword for me. I am instantly drawn to phenomenal players. But my interest usually wanes if there isn’t more depth to the music.
12.) Unusually cadenced lyrics. Enough said.