• Symphonic Conspiracy

    11 Mar 2013, 23:33 by nable7

    A new genre of music is emerging. A movement is starting. Like all movements in the early stages, it has its detractors. They think that it's too different, too diverse, too global to really become a strong force for artistic change. But I can see the horizon, and I know better. The future is going to be epic, and I for one want to be a part of it.

    Unfortunately the new genre does not yet have a name. It has many names used by different groups. So the fans don't recognize each other. And people outside can't even tell that it exists. That's why this new genre needs a name, one name that can encapsulate the movement in a single term around which the devoted can rally. Someone will give it that name, and if we wait for a marketing department employee to do it, the name will undoubtedly suck. So we must name it first! Way too many important artistic decisions have been made by marketing guys in the last 20 years.

    So what kind of music am I talking about? Like many new genres it's a blend of several others, and it has optional features too that don't define the genre as a whole. This is it:

    Necessary Elements
    * Melodic Vocals
    * Hard Rock/Metal Rhythm (Guitar, Bass, Drums)
    * Thick, Layered Texture (layered vocals, orchestral instruments, etc.)
    * Classical scales, as opposed to pentatonic/blues scales
    * Overal evocative quality

    Optional Elements
    * Any genre of Metal (Gothic, Power, Black, Death, etc.)
    -May include growls or screams if appropriate
    * Deep orchestral sounds, even a live orchestra
    * Elements or tropes of classical music, including vocal style
    * Epic or grandiose in scope
    * Stage production for live performances

    I'm not going to list a band or existing genre name yet because that will polarize the readers before they're able to internalize this and have the appropriate epiphany.

    The question is: What should this music be called? Give it a good name and you could be the one that came up with it. So…… GO!
  • How the North American Music Industry Died

    14 Dec 2012, 01:25 by nable7

    The music industry had been a vibrant proponent of the auditory arts, discovering and disseminating new kinds of music to the people. The industry kept most of the profits away from the artists of course, but there was enough around to keep everyone making music. The reason that the industry was ever relevant to music culture was that musicians and music-lovers were running the industry, not because they knew about business, but because they knew about music… until the early 90's that is. In the 80's the music industry made so much money that it attracted the attention of people who know and care about nothing else but money. They got MBA's in Music Business and took over the industry.

    Unfortunately this occurred at the exact same time as the youth culture had shifted toward authenticity as its highest value. So what the music industry had actually become (a bunch of suits peddling music for cash like they would toilets or cars) couldn't be any more distasteful. This generation was also inclined to defy any authority they deemed unworthy of its position. So basically the largest group of music consumers was actively looking for a way to defy the music industry.

    "Alternative" became the last new kind of music discovered by the industry before it died, the music itself symbolizing distaste for the mainstream music package. Then of course the industry proceeded to label anything they wanted to sell as "alternative" generally the same music that had been mainstream 3 years earlier (pop/country and pop/rock) typically set to shallow lyrics referencing how much the mainstream sucked or just swearing a lot. When Snoop Dogg joined lineup for Lollapalooza, the scene had to be dead. Although Metallica being on the lineup before should have been a clue…

    Now that the same people were running the music industry that were running every other industry, common business practices came into play, such as narrowing the product line. Music stores were being given a much lower variety of music to sell, so customers were expected to do what customers do and just accept it and buy what's available (it works with toilet paper) at the price expected (which only works with limited competition). So the industry narrowed the selection to basically pop with a couple variants, and rap, and raised the price by 40%.

    Now given an ultimatum by the music industry to either buy what's available for more than it ever cost before from people you despise; or don't listen to music at all; or get it somewhere else…

    A program called Napster made the internet an avenue for easy music discovery. Of course, a lot of people downloaded Metallica while they were trying to discover music and were sued at law. The music industry developed a consortium to sue groups and individuals in an effort to scare people away from "stealing music." But it felt to us like an unjust despot executing protestors, so we continued in the face of the threat for the sake of freedom.

    Eventually they gave up… mostly. In the past 10 years no new genre of music has been introduced other than "indie" which includes any form of music not signed to major record label. Several new kinds of music have developed in the underground as they always have, but they were never graced with a description even if they made it into the charts, other than pop, alternative, rock, etc. Rather than adapt to the change of consumer-buying patterns, the industry opted to fight the change, and when that failed they simply gave up, reduced their costs and stopped taking any chances. Of course the labels still exist, but they no longer actively scout talent. New bands are only signed when they gain notoriety on their own, either by accident or though some non-musical medium such as television. Even when they are signed, they are given minimal support. World-class musicians continue to work day-jobs for minimum wage because they're not good at low-level marketing or lucky enough to become famous on their own.

    If there's a happy ending to this story it hasn't occurred yet. The current situation is pretty-much the worst possible scenario for popular music. The music industry has died but continues to hold power. The labels still promote the same tired genres as they have since 1995 as if they were new and hip and most people don't seem to know any better. I would end with R.I.P. music industry, but that seems pointless as long as it continues to haunt us with its hollow moaning and cheesy commercials.

  • Wall to Floor: Nightwishes for the Future

    3 Oct 2012, 03:33 by nable7

    Fans of , , and Nightwish worldwide have undoubtedly heard that Anette Olzon has parted ways with the band. Though it seemed sudden to the public, they were not openly ungraceful about the break and had already already prepared a fascinating choice for fill-in vocalist in Floor Jansen current front-woman for ReVamp and venerable vocalist of the late, great After Forever. You can read the official statement from the band here: http://nightwish.com/en/news#2187

    Floor was pulled from a studio session with ReVamp to board a plane for Seattle and last night's performance: Mon 1 Oct – Imaginaerum North American Tour 2012. Besides a week's notice to practice on her own, she had a grand total of 2 hours to prepare with the band before stepping on stage, this from conversations with the band backstage following the concert.

    From my conversations with fans in the lineup before the show, awareness of the vocalist changeover seemed to be around 50%. Those who were aware also knew who Floor was and just how awesome it was going to be to hear her perform with Nightwish. And, yes, that number included me. Following the opening performance of Kamelot who recently announced that their fill-in vocalist Tommy Karevik had become the new permanent vocalist, hopes were high that Floor would become the same for Nightwish after this tour. And after her performance last night… well, we all agreed we were right, she should stay.

    Given how precious little time Floor Jansen had before joining Nightwish on stage in Seattle, her performance was spectacular, if not flawless. I observed 2 false starts. But again considering how abruptly this was done, and how structurally complex Nightwish's music is, 2 noticeable mistakes in 90 minutes is beyond exceptional. It was also fun to see Floor exploring the space as a performer: pumping arms to syncopated shots from the band like a 1940's-era band leader and appropriately overacting along with some of Anette's more signature lines. As a superior vocalist in most ways to Anette Olzon, Floor's performance was spot-on, alternately nailing and surpassing the former vocalists spunky style.

    I did not meet the band as a journalist so I did not poll them for official statements. But I am under the impression that Floor's long-term presence is not out of the question, so here's my official stance on the subject if it's not already clear: Floor is the greatest vocalist so far to emerge. In range of tone, Floor can sing from to and everything in-between on the same line. The only other vocalist I've heard with so much variety is the much lesser known Maria Brink (In This Moment) who sings the other half of the spectrum from to doing both well and ranging freely in between. As such the world's foremost singer would be a perfect match for the world's foremost project. So here's hope that Nightwish's Imaginarium tour finishes well and that Floor Jansen stays on as the new front-woman.

  • Unknown Female Symphonic Metal Bands (Part 8)

    4 Aug 2012, 12:13 by Sigoth

  • Creativity and Corporate Control

    25 Jul 2012, 01:17 by nable7

    Art is a creative work that can effect human emotions.

    Corporations had begun to make money from art, large amounts of money. Corporations have no use for art, no awareness of what makes art what it is. Corporations are machines, and because machines have neither emotions nor creativity, art is lost on them. Yet since corporations own our planet and run our society, they make the decisions on what art gets made and what does not… at least what art requiring financing gets made. Not surprisingly almost everything coming out of this system is worthless.

    Corporations were able to have art made by using the creativity of enslaved humans (i.e. producers, composers) who were known to be effective at producing art. But corporations have ceased to be satisfied with this indirect control after some failures. Now they are attempting direct control over art creation, which is again deplorable.

    Music is the example of what movies will become next. Games will probably follow movies, although they're catching up at an alarming rate. Corporations no longer bother with music for the most part. That's why mainstream music has essentially remained the same since just after Napster first burst the bubble by making music sharing easy. There is only Rap, POP, , Country, and Alternative. Other music is being produced but you won't hear it on the radio or anywhere else controlled but the music industry. There is nothing but these genres, and there can be nothing else until the masses demand it. Demand would bring supply and the supply must be something that the corporations cannot yet produce… or the culture of music will continue to stagnate as it has for 10 years. If you don't believe that, think about these genres and how small a minority of the population they reflect. is by and for some 2-4% of the American population. (In terms of who can identify with the style and subject-matter). is about the same. was a movement in the mid-nineties. "" replaced alternative for while but the music was identical. These were meant to be fads, not genres. The only changes have been adjustments to make the corporations more comfortable maintaining the status quo.

    Society's answer to the music industry's refusal to participate in musical culture is "indie" music, essentially democratizing music. Unfortunately this tension between the music industry and the rest of the world has created an environment in which virtually no one can succeed. No one can create anything more expensive than their day job can pay for. It has, rather intentionally, placed the most mundane of garage bands on equally footing with truly gifted musicians.

    It comes down to apathy. No one believes anything great can happen in music anymore. People think their only options are either to recreate the Beatles over and over again (like 96% of indie bands do) or resign themselves to the mechanical productions of the supposed "mainstream" enjoyed likely by less than 20% of the population.

    Fortunately for us North Americans, Europe is coming to our rescue. I think that Symphonic Metal is the answer to apathetic North American music that wallows in the mundane. Symphonic Metal is larger than life and given to artistic transcendence. The only problem with it is the name. Metal happens to be the second-largest indie genre after the Beatles sound-alikes, and it is jealously guarded in North America. "Symphonic" implies orchestra but generally turns Americans off, and it's an exaggeration.

    My suggestion then is "" conceived as a new genre of music. It may be the only hope for our society.

  • Symphonic Metal vs. Progressive Metal

    25 Apr 2012, 20:33 by nable7

    Whenever I talk about what I like about music I tend to mention things like and . Most people then nod and and knowingly mention Dream Theater. Then I sigh and either let the subject go, or–if they're interested in learning something–I explain the following. I'm sure I sound like Comic Book Guy (http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Comic_Book_Guy) in these moments, but what can I say; the stereotype exists for a reason.

    Both and bands frequently include a , but for very different reasons. In fact, other than the role that the keyboards play in the band, they are mostly the same. Both Symphonic and Progressive bands are likely to make use of melodic vocals, because both are more about creating music than just being . (I'm not going to argue the implicit statement in the last sentence in this entry.) Both kinds of rock/metal can vary key and time signatures without upsetting their fans. And both can make claims of taking rock or metal into the realm of art music. Except for what the keyboardist does and how he/she does it, the difference between symphonic and progressive is probably the degree with which these elements permeate the music.

    So what does the keyboard do that's so different? In (probably much more than ) the keyboardist is a band member equal to each of the others and their job is to show off or to maintain the chordal structure while the shows off. This is basically the same as the guitar/keyboard relationship in , which is of course where the paradigm came from. Progressive can really use any patch, but they tend to use leads and pads for the respective roles, largely for traditional reasons. (That is to say that since they're a keyboardist, they want to sound like a keyboardist.) Also these types of sounds help differentiate the keyboards from the guitars and vocals so the different elements can be heard distinctly .

    Nothing in the previous paragraph applies to , or which is mostly the same thing. The keyboardist's role in symphonic rock/metal is as unique as the vocalist's. Their job is to simulate an entire orchestra in the absence of an actual orchestra. For this reason, the highest profile symphonic metal bands (e.g. Nightwish) use live orchestras for their albums. So while the keyboardist may use leads or pads, they are typically designed to sound like orchestral instruments, choosing synthesizers only as often as a contemporary orchestra might include them. Symphonic keyboardists will typically choose orchestral keyboards, such as pipe organ, harpsichord, piano, celeste, etc. Also, the choice in sounds/samples is designed to blend together with the guitar, voice, and drums to produce one, whole, rather than audibly divisible and appreciable elements.

    Of course there are symphonic rock/metal bands that are pretty progressive and whose keyboardists play a lot of . There are also some progressive bands whose keyboardists like to occasionally blend their sound or frequently utilize orchestral samples, but the intention makes the difference. And, frankly, some bands have got it wrong.

  • How I Discovered Good Music

    12 Apr 2012, 23:36 by nable7

    When I was in grade school (I won't say when) I got into 80's rock/metal, especially Poison, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, etc. Later on I got into Guns 'N Roses a little bit and discovered Phantom Of The Opera. I tried to enjoy other musics that were going around but I just couldn't get into much of it. At the end of high school I ditched altogether for . I didn't actually like to listen punk rock that much, but I liked the culture around it, and it made me feel one with the culture to listen to it, so I did. And in my local punk scene you couldn't be a punk and a metal-head at the same time, so I chose punk rock. In the band I played in (because if you're a real punk you have to be in a band) we even did a song making fun of metal… which was actually really fun to play…

    While many punks certainly took exception to it, our punk scene mostly opened its arms to the rave scene, including , , etc. I had always been a fan of what and could do in music, so I was quite happy with the change, though I began to miss rock and roll.

    In addition to the popular music I was listening to, I had been playing in . There was a brief time when this intersected with pop music for me in the short-lived trend of music. weren't really allowed but were. While there were a slew of ska bands out there, I remember Rancid and The Supertones the best.

    And speaking of the Supertones brings me to the subject of music. I'm speaking of it because I am, rather proudly, a follower of Jesus, which puts me in touch at least somewhat with the culture of Christianity. And in fact before I embraced a lifestyle of following Jesus I lived in the culture, though I was always an outsider to it… There were a lot of great punk bands that embraced the way of Jesus… just as there were bands that embraced every imaginable philosophy, but as a Christian I took special interest in those bands that I could agree with the most, which is kind of a punk thing to do…

    About the time I was starting to get away from the rave scene, for spiritual reasons primarily, I began to find myself placed in a music scene for cultural rather than aesthetic reasons for the 4th time. I'll explain. In middle school I listened to a lot of different kinds of music because other kids did. In high school I listened to punk rock to feel punk and align myself with other punks. In university I listened to trance and house because I wanted to remind myself of that scene and align myself with the other ravers. And at the end of my college career, I listened to music because I wanted to align myself with the spiritual overtones as well as overt message of that music. After the first 3 times, I was a little resistant to accepting the music out of pressure from others. And as a result I've never fully embraced p&w as music-for-me. I listen to and even perform it as part of spiritual practice, but it is not really the music that I listen to but the lyrical content. Setting it to music simply gives it a structure by which to experience and remember it.

    After university I began to wonder if I even liked music anymore. None of my CD's had anything to do with anything I liked to listen to, merely things that I wanted to be reminded of. I suspect most people live with that, but I still had hope that there was something else, something that I could really enjoy beyond its cultural reference. I suppose I should mention jazz. There were certain kinds of jazz, particularly certain albums by Maynard Ferguson, Arturo Sandoval, The Brand New Heavies, and even a few songs by Tower of Power that did move me, but that was about it. Ok, I also liked some other rock but it seemed that I had to hear everything with some degree of reservation. I thought, "I would love this if they would just…" [something] I thought, "If someone would just combine Phantom Of The Opera with Guns 'N Roses and get a singer who didn't sound like a clown I could get into that…"

    The first music that I heard that started me on my current path was probably, weirdly enough, Uninvited. It was a one-off but I remember thinking someone should do music that combined guitars with stings and actually make it into a band or even a genre… oh well…

    A year or two later I heard Bring Me to Life. I assumed at the time that Amy Lee (I didn't know her name) must be a guest artist with the male obviously an actual member of the band. I didn't really investigate Evanescence at the time because I didn't think that way.

    The next music that spoke to me was a song of the Deus Ex: Invisible War soundtrack of all things. It turned out to be a band called the Kidneythieves. The soundtrack wasn't released mind you, so it took me some time to find out what that music was, who was doing it, and then find the music, but when I did, I felt rewarded. I got a copy of the Zerospace album and was blown away that a band would use heavy-metal riffs with a listenable vocalist and electronics… in the same band! Wow! I remember laughing out loud that there was a woman singing along that guitar and I could hear actual notes…

    The thing that brought it all together for me was Pandora.com It's only available in the States where I was living at the time for some reason. [shakes fist at American copyright law] Pandora let me plug in Evanescence and the Kidneythieves and it started playing Within Temptation… and… my life was changed forever…

    [paragraph of silence]


    Someone had actually put all of the things that I loved about music: rhythm, heavy guitar, beautiful vocals, orchestral instruments, counterpoint, artistry, layering, minor keys, and a live keyboardist into one band. I had found my musical love. That was 4 years ago, and I've learned that this music was being called among many, many other things. I just wanted a name for it, but there didn't seem to be one.

    I'll write another, hopefully much shorter journal about what's in, not in, and should be in a name. But for now, my story is told for the generations. And I go in peace… and rock… =)

  • Unknown Female Symphonic Metal Bands (Part 7)

    4 Apr 2012, 18:38 by Sigoth

  • [Lyrics - Translation] Akiko Shikata - Inori ~Monlam~ (Tibetan song)

    28 Mar 2012, 23:19 by Madrangue

    志方あきこ - 祈り ~モンラム~
    (Akiko Shikata - Inori ~Monlam~)
    Seventh track of Raka
    Title translates to Prayer.

    Composed & arranged by: 志方あきこ (Akiko Shikata)
    Lyrics by: 志方あきこ & 篠田朋子 (Akiko Shikata & Tomoko Shinoda)
    Vocals by: 志方あきこ (Akiko Shikata)
    Violin: 壷井彰久 (Akihisa Tsuboy)
    Percussions: 佐藤直子 (Naoko Sato)
    Guitar: ワタヌキヨシアキ (Yoshiaki Watanuki)


    ནམ་མཁའ་ནའ་ཞག་རྒྱུན་གཏན་མིག་ཙེས་ནང་དང། ཨོཾ༌མནི༌པདྨེ༌ཧཱུཾ
    ནམ་མཁའི་དབུགས་པྲང་ལ། ནམ་དུས་གང་མོགློ་ཝུར་སྐྱེལ་ཡོད།
    ནམ་མཁའ་གྲོ་རྒྱུས་ངོ་མ་ཡོད་པ། ཏ་སྐེད་ཆུང་ཆུང་ལ་རྙིན་རྗེ།
    ནམ་མཁའི་ཏོག་ཤར་གི་ས་ལའ་འགརལ་ལ་བ། དཀར་པོ་ཐོ་བོ་ནང་པོ་ནམ་གྲོ།
    གྲོང་གསེབ་ནང་གི་ངའི་ཁྱིམ་ཅིག་པོ། མེ་སྤྲིན་ཐབ་མེད་ལ་གློ་གྲོ།
    ནམ་མཁའ་ནའ་ཞག་རྒྱུན་གཏན་མིག་ཙེས་ནང་དང། ཨོཾ༌མནི༌པདྨེ༌ཧཱུཾ
    ནམ་མཁའ་ནའ་ཞག་རྒྱུན་གཏན་མིག་ཙེས་ནང་དང། ཨོཾ༌མནི༌པདྨེ༌ཧཱུཾ
    ཆོས་གསུན་ཟླ་བ་རྒུར་གཞུ། སེམས་གི་མདའ་ལེན་ཀྱི་དུག
    འབབ་གྱིས་ཟགས་རྒུར་གོ། མི་འགའ་ཤིག་ལ་མི་ལྟ་གིས་ལས་ཆོད་འོད།
    ནམ་མཁའ་ནའ་ཞག་རྒྱུན་གཏན་མིག་ཙེས་ནང་དང། ཨོཾ༌མནི༌པདྨེ༌ཧཱུཾ
    གྲོང་གསེབ་ནང་ལ་མེ་ཕྲེན་གསལ་པོ། མི་ཆཽའ་གསོལ་ཕྟོན་དྲི་མ་ཞིམ་པོ།
    ཟིང་འཕང་ནས་ཕིན་བྱེད། ནེ་ཕྲོན་ཤྲོང་མེད་ནང་གློ་གྲོ།
    མཇ་སྙན་ཁེད་རང། ང་དེར་ཡོ།


    Nam kha nam zhak gyün ten mig tsé nang dang om ni padmé hum
    nga der yo
    Nam khé uk trang la nam dü gang molo wur skyël yö
    Nam kha dro gyü ngo ma yö pa ta ké chung chung la nyïn jé.
    Nam khé tok shar gi sa la garel lawa kar po to bo nang po nam dro
    drong sep nang gi ngé khyim chik po mé trin tap mé la lo dro
    Nam kha nam zhak gyün ten mig tsé nang dang om ni padmé hum
    Pa ma
    nga der yo
    Nam kha nam zhak gyün ten mig tsé nang dang om ni padmé hum
    Pa ma
    nga der yo
    chö sün dawa gur zhu sem gi da len kyi duk
    Nam gyi drang wen gur gor né
    bap gyi zak gur go mi ga shik la mi ta gi lé chö ö
    Nam kha nam zhak gyün ten mig tsé nang dang om ni padmé hum
    Pa ma
    nga der yo
    drong sep nang la mé tren sel po mi chau söl ptön dri ma zhim po
    zing pang né pin jé né trön shrong mé nang lo dro
    Nam kha nam zhak gyün ten mig tsé nang dang
    Ja nyen khé rang nga der yo

    English Translation

    Please always watch over me from Heaven
    I am here
    The wind cuts on the prairie, suddenly bringing the cold season along
    Its mane swaying toward the slender sky, the horse's neigh sounds so sad
    The sun disappearing beyond the vast land, in our village columns of smoke rise
    from the hearths
    To the only house without rising smoke, I return
    Please always watch over me from Heaven
    Father, Mother
    I am here
    Please always watch over me from Heaven
    Father, Mother
    I am here
    The crescent moon is like a bow that takes the arrow of a traveler's thoughts to
    The shooting star that crosses the night sky guides the way for somebody
    In our village, fire has been lit, the banquet's sweet aroma drifts on the air
    Please always watch over me from Heaven
    Father, Mother
    I am here
    Leaving the noisy crowd,
    to the only house without lit fire, I return
    Please always watch over me from heaven
    My beloved, I am here

    Loreena McKennitt, Dead Can Dance, Enya, Jarboe, Rhea's Obsession, Jack or Jive, Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows, Mors Syphilitica, L'Ham de Foc, Fejd, Omnia, Stille Volk, Eluveitie, Ophelia's Dream, Trobar de Morte, Cécile Corbel, Narsilion, Alan Stivell, Miranda Sex Garden, Cranes, Lisa Gerrard, Pinknruby, Secret Garden, Faun, QNTAL, Luca Turilli's Dreamquest, Nightwish, Within Temptation, Mediæval Bæbes, Louisa John-Krol, 書上奈朋子, Ferri, Diabolus in musica (Vittorio Manzan), Le' rue Delashay, Sudironda, Angelo Branduardi, Cocteau Twins, Stellamara, Fields of the Nephilim, Diva Destruction, 一ノ宮頼子, Marissa Nadler, Grimes, Soap&Skin, Fever Ray, 福原まり
  • Unknown Female Symphonic Metal Bands (Part 6)

    6 Jan 2012, 19:07 by Sigoth