The Abba/Puccini syndrome

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

Wiki says : “A syndrome is a set of medical signs and symptoms that are correlated with each other and, often, with a specific disease.”

The Abba/Puccini syndrome is easy to explain. It’s a misunderstanding. Or a miscomprehension, allez savoir !

Abba was VERY popular, but a whole bunch of people hated them, rockers, indie critics, etc. Today most of the haters are… in a awe, they are embarrassed, they say “OMG they were, in fact, so good”. On every floor : Melodies. Hits. Production. Voices. Modernity. Melancholy. Arrangements.

Abba : I’m a Marionette

Puccini is the most played opera composer in the world. La Bohème, says Wikipedia, “remains one of the most frequently performed operas ever written”. Victim of its own popularity, he’s often seen as the composer of opera “hits”, like Nessun Dorma. And, at many moments, he’s obviously Italian (ce côté éperdu et ensoleillé du Nord de l’Italie). And this HIDES the modernity of his music. Puccini was admired by composers like Schoenberg, Ravel, and Stravinsky. Experiments and strange harmonic progressions colour the fabric of his music. You just have to listen what is “under”, or watch closely his funny way to drive harmony like a racing car :

Beginning of Manon Lescaut

Dial : Some artists can be victims of popularity, but this syndrome is double worse : success hides sophistication.

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Moods and synthesizers in movie soundtracks

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

When you think “synthesizers in movie soundtracks”, here’s Blade Runner. Vangelis’ music is a masterpiece. This will never move. This movie is a milestone.

But there’s a whole problem with bad eighties synth scores.

What surprised me recently is this :

1-Within the eighties, it was OK.

2-After the eighties, it was (very often) ridiculous.

3-Today, it’s OK back (sorry to say it this way, I’m french). Sometimes.

Try this with American Gigolo (Paul Schrader)

Try this with Apocalypse Now (F. F. Coppola)

Try this with Thief (Michael Mann)

Maybe it’s personal. My perception of the music in the movie, altered by age, the distance of movies.

Maybe it’s nostalgia : the happy Sixties are charming, the hippie/disco Seventies are charming, and now probably that the Eighties are bearably charming too, with all this plastic fluo Buggles OMD snap.

The only secret of Daft Punk recent huge success is here : Finding back the flat comfortable disco beat who made Saturday Night Fever a neverending success. Remember Midnight Express ? Cerrone, maybe ?

Maybe it’s an eternal loop. OK/bad/OK/bad/OK. Depends on the sound of the moment.

Dial :

If what you make has the purpose to stick to the now, forget all this, you don’t care.

If you want to last, you have to realise that what you’re doing today will peut-être be a big pile of merdrrre in ten years, and (maybe) it will be re-discovered in twenty years. Then, you’ll be rich like a pacha.

Maybe.

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Kidults don’t like Bartok

OK I’m french. My english is a frenglish, it’s rusty and wobbly, et voilà. Try me, though. I’ll do my best. I promise. If sometimes it’s too bad, just laugh at me or roll your eyes.

I was born in 1966, so when Star Wars was on the screens, I was ten and my father took me by the hand to watch it. “Use the force, Luke”. J’ai adoré ! As a student, later, I spent nights fighting monsters in Quake or Doom. Harry Potter was not born, dommage. I read Stephen King instead…

Now I’m 49, I knowwww, there’s another Star Wars on the screens. I’ll watch it, I promise. But at the same time, well, I’m obsessed these days by the 4th Symphony of Gustav Mahler (the 2nd movement, In gemächliger Bewegung, which is a strange waltz, is fascinating because the violin sounds like some Dmitri Shostakovich), I read the biography of Goliarda Sapienza (I have to buy The Art of Joy – L’Art de la Joie !), and I watch, these days, an old documentary about the Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

I don’t play video games anymore. I didn’t buy any of the 1587 volumes of Walking Dead. Et puis Puccini m’a beaucoup occupé ces derniers temps, vous savez. I feel a bit alone, though. Bientôt ça va me faire culpabiliser. Genre le mec perché dans sa tour…

All men I meet daily seem to be what we call in France “adulescents“. You could call them adulteens ! They are thirty, forty years old, boring as possible, and their culture is nonexistent. They have teens’ culture instead. Blockbusters, but it’s hard to talk about Antonioni or Welles (“Old movies ? No”). Videogames, but don’t tell them about how funny Greta Garbo is in Ninotchka. Walking Dead comics, but no Bartok, too… disturbing. Or Bruckner, you know (ahhhh, le scherzo de la 9ème et ses pizzicati !). What about Vivian Maier ? Hmm ?

Why not, after all ? Super Mario (run and jump !) is probably more exciting than the Fourth of Mahler, and your Lego box of a Tie Fighter is just a little more expensive than this huge stupid Proust book et ses interminables phrases. Pfff…

“L’absence n’est-elle pas, pour qui aime, la plus certaine, la plus efficace, la plus vivace, la plus indestructible, la plus fidèle des présences ?”

Dial : What if they quit, at times, the surface of teeny things ? What if they stop… reacting on what the mainstream market prepare for them ? Que pourrait apporter une part d’autonomie, soudainement ? Who is the guy who can navigate from Tim Burton or Adèle, to Fanny & Alexander or… Bartok ? Mutant ?

La Culture à réaction, or why “Luxury is Insular”…

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