As [we] re-enter the groove on Glass Rock Life, we must define our terms. To some people, bad means good, and to some people good means “I am lying to you so as not to hurt your feelings.” Glass Rock Life caught up with Glass Rock/Tall Firs guitarist Dave Mies to discuss music, and what it is [it is what it is -ed]. Dave owns one of the most vocal left hands in rock, while his right hand is damn busy too! Let’s listen here, as this time ’round, he makes the music with his mouth, BIZ!
1) Does music symbolize anything? Or is it organized sound unto itself?
I think I gotta define the term “music” before I try and answer this one.
Music is the intentional act of making noise for the sake of being heard by an audience, even if it’s an audience of one and even if that audience is comprised only of the musician (so long as that musician is human). Unintentional noises, trees falling in the forest with no one to hear them etc., are as meaningless as a smile on a dog. Only people give things “meaning,” so only people make meaningful (and by that I mean intentional) noise or “music”. A bunch of fucking wolves or squirrels or whatever do not constitute an audience for falling timber or anything else.
Intentionality is critical in terms of what I would call music. Just being human and making a racket isn’t enough. The shit I took this morning made a hella’ splash when it hit the bowl, but that was just a side effect of my need to eliminate [curry -ed]. I didn’t ‘give a shit’ what noise it made when it landed. Now if I’d swiveled my hips just so to achieve some acoustic outcome or amplified the sound or even just recorded it for later, that would count as music, but as it stands, it was a “meaningless” dump and thus, unmusical.
I don’t mean to say that spontaneous or even mundane or unintentional noises can’t be utilized in music, but someone has to ‘give a shit.’ Some human has to imbue it with some kind of meaning for it to become “music to my ears” as they say. Ha! Get it!
Anyway, it would seem to me that all music is symbolic and it is we who make it so. We take it out of the realm of happenstance and deem it “art” (if you even wanna’ go there… I don’t).
What I mean is this: once the noise becomes a thing outside of its simple existence in nature (its pitch and amplitude only), and becomes an object of aesthetic concern, it’s association with its human presenter (or musician) and their audience give it symbolic meaning. It becomes a symbol of the presenter’s deliberate and unintentional aims and the audiences conscious or unconscious responses. We give it a time period (since history only exists through the prism of human experience) and thus it gains the ability to be viewed as timeless or rapidly become dated, etc. etc. etc.. It becomes loaded with all the connotations that come with being inexorably linked to people and their changing times and it’s my opinion that this is the only place anything or anybody gets meaning from anyway.