Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Scribblings about music from a 15-year-old me

The thoughts of a teenage ambient fan
It's been a while since I wrote a blog about anything music related but I came across an old essay I wrote at school when I was just 15 and thought I'd share part of it.

The essay is entitled 'Where in the world do you find beauty and what is your response to it?' and gives you some insight into my young mind and reveals the roots of a future music hack. I'm not sure if its naivety is endearing or annoying but you can see the 1992 version of me adopting several (questionable) journalistic traits.

These include dealing in absolutes for effect, displayed by the 'I loved rave music and now I hate it, I love this ambient music instead now' stance. The fact is I still love rave music and never stopped loving it (though admittedly I don't listen to Tetris by Doctor Spin any more) and I also still love ambient music. That wouldn't sell (or at least get my English teacher's attention) though would it?!

This old build it up, knock it down mentality has been used by hacks throughout the ages, mostly by the NME. My excuse is that I was a fickle 15-year-old, I'm not sure what the NME's excuse is. Anyway, here is an excerpt complete with the bad punctuation, the scarcity of paragraphs and never-ending sentences it was originally written with.

Where in the world do you find beauty and what is your response to it?
GCSE English essay, 12th October 1992. (Aged 15)

[…] Beauty for most people makes them feel at peace and tranquil and extremely happy and restful. But the question is, what do I see beauty in? 

Above all, above nature, architecture and art, I must say that it is music that gives me immense pleasure to listen to and I let myself be taken away by the beats, electronic instruments and melodic, mellow sounds that have been used to create a wonderful sound. I, like many others now, used to be into Rave music. This music is made up of one-hundred and forty to fifty beats per minute backing, a repetitive “chorus”, (made up of up to five notes played over and over again), or a singer, singing the same few words (that have no meaning) over and over again. Plus, in many of the tunes these days, there is a sample, or extract, from a television tune or computer game. These have included records like, “Roobarb ‘n’ Custard”, “Sesame’s Treet”, “A Trip To Trumpton”, “Super Mario Land” and “Tetris”. All of which are popular for about three weeks and then the creators of them are never heard of again. I began to go off this music when it turned into a novelty, a joke, a gimmick, and was solely aimed at five-year olds. But, I thought to myself, what is there to go on to after listening to this weak, soulless music for so long?

It took a trip to my sister’s, who also liked rave for a long time before me, to realise what I should be buying to replace the mind-clamouring mess I had been wasting my money on. It was fairly late on a Friday night and my sister took a tape from an old shoe box and put it in the deck of her expensive stereo system. As soon as I’d been listening to the music for about two minutes I had been taken in by it. It filled my senses with happiness and joy and lifted my spirits endlessly. The long melodic chords and the dream-like instruments were indescribable along with a female singer at times with the odd sample, in better taste than the rave ones, winding its way into my ears. My sister called the music Ambient or Dub music and it’s still my favourite music today. I really let myself become engulfed by the music and absorbed by the slow, inconsistent beat. Nearly always when I am lying down on my bed and I’m listening to the music I get so taken in and relaxed that I fall asleep. Sometimes, if I concentrate hard enough, I can let my mind create “pictures” and these also help me to doze off to sleep until the tape reaches its end, produces a loud clicking noise and wakes me up.

This music is slowly finding its way into the hit parade and becoming popular. One of my favourite bands The Orb have already had two top twenty singles plus the prestige of a number one album. Their song titles include “Little Fluffy clouds”, “The back side of the moon” and the incredibly long “A huge ever-growing, pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld”. So not only do the tunes have a good, melodic, beautiful sound the titles of them do too. There is so much going on in the records that each time I listen to them my ears seem to pick out something new, like a sample or instrument I haven’t noticed before. I find this type of music beautiful.

However, sound and music are not the only things in life I find beauty in. I also find certain scenes in nature beautiful and an example of this is the sea. […]

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