Introducing Hymn-Hop

I'm going through my daily todo list and I see "write a blog post" has been entered twice, so here I am :)

The productivity app I use is top-rated and today I couldn't help but admire how good it looks and works. It takes UX designers, programmers, IT technicians, support staff and other specialists to develop and run a popular app like this. Like most businesses, the founder started with an idea, then a basic prototype (a.k.a. Minimum Viable Product) then collaborated with a team over many iterations to realize his vision.

The composition of songs is similar. The composer has an idea and tries to capture the idea using some kind of media. Depending on the genre and the skills of the artist, she may also try to make a basic first version of the song using FL Studio or jam it out on an instrument.

A week or so ago I decided to mash church hymns with Hip-Hop and call it "Hymn-Hop". The inaugural hymn for this musical experiment is Do What Is Right. I chose that one of hundreds in the public domain because my cat Astro recently passed away and it was her favorite.

Yes, cats have favorite hymns, or at least mine do.

So I wrote a rap to augment the lyrics - the process that has made me appreciate the depth of this art form and the rappers who do it so well. Now I'm looking to collaborate with a Hip-Hop producer that can help me realize my idea.

The question arises (again) about what qualifies as a legitimate method of composition and who qualifies as a composer. If I was to design or utilize A.I. to generate music that people enjoy, does that count? Ash Koosha, David Cope and Holly Herndon (who reminds me of a female Richard David James) are considered composers of the highest order. What if I have a song in my head and hire someone to perform and produce it as per my specifications like someone I know did. Is that composition proper?

Then there are musicians like Henry Rollins that don't play an instrument or even sing for that matter. Neither did Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols.

At the other extreme are composers who do everything themselves, going from idea to playing every instrument and recording/producing. Their process may be slow and exploratory or a flash of inspiration and execution, but they do it all themselves. Rod Modell a.k.a. Deepchord and Prince are like that, to name but a few.

For the first Hymn-Hop, I'll probably land closer to Henry Rollins on the composer continuum... although is it considered arranging and not composition since I'm adapting a pre-existing work? Hip-Hop reappropriates samples and melodies from other songs into new creations, so I'm not sure what to think.

I'll keep you updated.

Project Pivot

Warning: the above photo is way more action-packed than this blog post. Courtesy of Pikrepo.

The purpose of Poseur to Composer has changed somewhat since I started with the about page.

Initially I wanted to document my journey learning to read, write and play music. I didn't know what instrument to use or genre of music to play, I just didn't want music to be a big hazy mystery anymore.

Now the goal is a bit clearer. It's implied in the title Poseur to Composer but I'll make it explicit: my objective is to create and perform a piece of music using a legitimate process. Once this is done, the project is done (although I may still continue blogging here).

What a legitimate process is I still don't know. Is improvisation and freestyle a legitimate form of composition? Does it require the use and/or mastering of a musical instrument? Is the voice an instrument? I say yes but others might not. Could composition be the artful arrangement of samples? I say no. That would be a cop-out.

Many more questions are abrew. Even the instrument and genre of music are still negotiable.

Readers of this blog know I'm working on a song that essentially defines a new genre: the dhymn. I'm committed to making this a reality. Unfortunately progress is slow (it'll be another year before I'm able to release the proof-of-concept to the public) and things are getting stale around here.

So while my one foot is firmly in place, my other foot is swiveling in a new direction: I'm diving into hip hop (the rap and mixing, not the b-boying and graffiti) to see what I can create.

I'm excited :)

"Cut to the chase" Definitions

Claude Shannon, known as the father of information theory, defined information as the resolution of uncertainty, a form of surprise. I got that nugget from Zat Rana's newsletter.

Comedian Gilda Radner said "humor is just truth, only faster". Neuroscientist Daniel J. Levitin wrote that "style is just another word for 'repetition'".

And another distilled definition I like is reading is high-speed empathy. I believe Marshall McLuhen said it, although I can't confirm. McLuhen also supposedly said that art is anything you can get away with.

Is there a punchy definition for music? One that doesn't include cheesecake and we can all agree on?