Ghost Box Music

General music discussion.
eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 31 Aug 2015, 10:11pm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Box_Music

Anybody else dig this stuff? It's a very narrative music.

Actually, I'd recommend it to anybody who likes ambient but wants to listen to something that evokes a story.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 31 Aug 2015, 10:42pm

"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Inder
User avatar
corecore vanguard
Posts: 7976
Joined: 14 Jun 2008, 3:28pm

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by Inder » 01 Sep 2015, 3:06am

That looks interesting, will have to check it out. Any tracks you'd recommend?

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 6:07am

Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age is the best place to start.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Dr. Medulla
User avatar
Atheistic Epileptic
Posts: 71153
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 2:00pm
Location: Nerdo Crombezia
Contact:

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by Dr. Medulla » 01 Sep 2015, 1:57pm

eumaas wrote:Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age is the best place to start.
Listening to this right now. Quite evocative collage work. I often wonder how early 20th c modernists would have regarded stuff like this. They should be attracted to the jarring nature of it all, but would it seem too formless to grapple with?
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 2:32pm

Dr. Medulla wrote:
eumaas wrote:Broadcast and The Focus Group Investigate Witch Cults of the Radio Age is the best place to start.
Listening to this right now. Quite evocative collage work. I often wonder how early 20th c modernists would have regarded stuff like this. They should be attracted to the jarring nature of it all, but would it seem too formless to grapple with?
I think somebody from the Second Viennese School would probably be intrigued at the textural possibilities (especially Webern I'd imagine) but disappointed at the conventional tonality. That is, the formal elements would be new, but the tonal content is conventional to the point of being derivative of what they would have called folk music.

John Cage and the New York Composers in their more radical moods would probably think that the overall effect was still too conventional, or at least that the creative methods of the work were not formally interesting.

There are definite forebears in musique concrète, but hauntology is a much more listener-friendly form, I think. I also think our ability to listen to this music comes from being accustomed to ambient music and the sample techniques of hip hop, the latter being the direct inspiration for the much more radical work of bands like Autechre.

Despite being rooted in conventional tonality, I do think that without the avant-garde in European art music and jazz, this sort of music wouldn't exist. That said, it's not similar to either form, but both did teach us new ways of listening.

Evocative is the best way to describe this music. It's interesting to examine because of how it calls to mind images and a sense of story while not actually providing anything so concrete. The experimental soundtrack work of 60-70s British television (itself rooted in earlier traditions of the avant-garde given new technology) is a clear ancestor to the sound, and perhaps that association is why it is so evocative.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 2:35pm

p.s. Thanks for giving this music a shot. That album was given to me by a musician friend as a soundtrack for the month of October.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Dr. Medulla
User avatar
Atheistic Epileptic
Posts: 71153
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 2:00pm
Location: Nerdo Crombezia
Contact:

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by Dr. Medulla » 01 Sep 2015, 2:50pm

That's fascinating to consider that they might zero in the tonal qualities and find it conventional.

You mention ambient and hip hop sampling as preparing us, and I don't disagree, but I would add cable tv and remote controls, too. It's not just that we're bombarded with sound sources, but in the case of television for the past three-plus decades, it's often snippets of sounds before changing the channel. Adapting to our environment necessarily means not relying on a full narrative. One of the things I've come to realize while writing is that when doing cultural crap, there's an emphasis on either creators or audiences, but I'm really intrigued by the importance of distribution to this whole thing. Technological evolution alters distribution of culture, which changes how creators and audiences approach the work, the expectations, the conventions, and what it means to be innovative. I'm not going technological determinism, but when it comes to culture, I think distribution—that vast middle man—is the independent variable.
p.s. Thanks for giving this music a shot. That album was given to me by a musician friend as a soundtrack for the month of October.
Thanks for recommending it. It's very much in my wheelhouse—unconventional stuff that can be approached as either back of consciousness or more attentively listened to.
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 4:00pm

Dr. Medulla wrote:That's fascinating to consider that they might zero in the tonal qualities and find it conventional.
The Second Viennese School composers were real big on breaking out of diatonic harmony. In many respects it started as a natural evolution from Wagner's introduction of increasing dissonance. But once Schoenberg came up with the twelve-tone technique and turned it into a whole program for the future of music, they made a radical break with conventional harmony.

Of them, the most radical was Webern because he also started dealing with dynamics and timbre, a technique called, on analogy with painting, pointillism. He'd spread the notes of a theme throughout individual members of the ensemble or orchestra, which broke up the sense of theme. He also notated the dynamics in his music down to a note-by-note level, so you'd get something soft followed by loud, then of medium, etc. He also experimented in extreme concision--a piece lasting less than a minute, for example.

Oddly, the one that fares best for modern listeners is, I think, Webern. Schoenberg and Berg were both more conventional in their orchestration and arrangement. Even though a piece is clearly atonal, it still shares much of the language of conventional European art music. And eventually atonality was eventually assimilated into the language of Hollywood film scores (often to provide tension). That conventional context for the notes made that assimilation easier than with Webern.

Compare:

which, despite its atonality, sounds like classical music, to

which sounds like it comes from another planet, and gives it a freshness that still makes him interesting.

One of my personal favorite twelve tone composers is Luigi Dallapiccola, who liked to put traditional tonal relationships in the tone row he used to generate the work, which gives the resulting composition a quasi-tonal quality I find quite beautiful:
You mention ambient and hip hop sampling as preparing us, and I don't disagree, but I would add cable tv and remote controls, too. It's not just that we're bombarded with sound sources, but in the case of television for the past three-plus decades, it's often snippets of sounds before changing the channel. Adapting to our environment necessarily means not relying on a full narrative.
That's a fantastic point.

Incidentally, Zorn's jump-cut compositions, where a song cycles through several genres, were directly inspired by Carl Stalling's scores for Warner Bros cartoons. Here's a good example:
One of the things I've come to realize while writing is that when doing cultural crap, there's an emphasis on either creators or audiences, but I'm really intrigued by the importance of distribution to this whole thing. Technological evolution alters distribution of culture, which changes how creators and audiences approach the work, the expectations, the conventions, and what it means to be innovative. I'm not going technological determinism, but when it comes to culture, I think distribution—that vast middle man—is the independent variable.
A neglected aspect for sure. I haven't read much work on that.
Thanks for recommending it. It's very much in my wheelhouse—unconventional stuff that can be approached as either back of consciousness or more attentively listened to.
Yeah, it can easily recede into the background. I like to listen to it while writing, for example.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Dr. Medulla
User avatar
Atheistic Epileptic
Posts: 71153
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 2:00pm
Location: Nerdo Crombezia
Contact:

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by Dr. Medulla » 01 Sep 2015, 4:29pm

eumaas wrote:Of them, the most radical was Webern because he also started dealing with dynamics and timbre, a technique called, on analogy with painting, pointillism. He'd spread the notes of a theme throughout individual members of the ensemble or orchestra, which broke up the sense of theme. He also notated the dynamics in his music down to a note-by-note level, so you'd get something soft followed by loud, then of medium, etc. He also experimented in extreme concision--a piece lasting less than a minute, for example.
Based on the piece you link to, I can see/hear the comparison to pointillism. It's less the sounds that are jarring than the gaps of silence between them. It's impossible to predict the nature of the silences, which makes listening (at least to me) a far more passive experience than a conventional pop song, where once you've got the tune going, you can make assumptions about where the song is going (which is normally where it's already been). That, as I understand things, is part of the point of modernism—to rip away the illusion that we are authentic subjects of our own lives.
Compare:

which, despite its atonality, sounds like classical music, to

which sounds like it comes from another planet, and gives it a freshness that still makes him interesting.
The former is so much fuller, it is much more familiar sounding, especially considering the Hollywood assimilation.
One of the things I've come to realize while writing is that when doing cultural crap, there's an emphasis on either creators or audiences, but I'm really intrigued by the importance of distribution to this whole thing. Technological evolution alters distribution of culture, which changes how creators and audiences approach the work, the expectations, the conventions, and what it means to be innovative. I'm not going technological determinism, but when it comes to culture, I think distribution—that vast middle man—is the independent variable.
A neglected aspect for sure. I haven't read much work on that.
I haven't really come across anyone really hammering that point home, tho one can always tell that it's there with Marxists. Tho it was a revelation to me, I expect real cultural scholars to just say, "Duh." But it's something that really draws my attention now (two of my chapters deal with distribution in publishing and movies, and I've been looking for it more recently with music).
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 5:11pm

"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 5:22pm

I should note also that the Focus Group is probably the most radical and collage-focused of the bunch.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Dr. Medulla
User avatar
Atheistic Epileptic
Posts: 71153
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 2:00pm
Location: Nerdo Crombezia
Contact:

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by Dr. Medulla » 01 Sep 2015, 5:25pm

Purchased! (but I won't be listening until tomorrow)
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

eumaas
User avatar
Klezmer Shogun
Posts: 22600
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 8:10pm
Location: Carrboro/Alamut

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by eumaas » 01 Sep 2015, 5:26pm

Dr. Medulla wrote:
Purchased! (but I won't be listening until tomorrow)
Hope you enjoy! Some of the bunch do fairly straightforward electronic music, but with a different kind of mood than you'd find in most offerings of the kind, sometimes even inspired by kitschy 70s electronica.
"The only thing that really occurs to me that I can say on this is to point out how fascinating it is that the Hassan-i-Sabbah archetype keeps turning up over and over again ... He disappears up into the mountains and is never seen again. Believe me, he'll never be seen again. He'll live forever because of that."

Dr. Medulla
User avatar
Atheistic Epileptic
Posts: 71153
Joined: 15 Jun 2008, 2:00pm
Location: Nerdo Crombezia
Contact:

Re: Ghost Box Music

Post by Dr. Medulla » 01 Sep 2015, 7:58pm

Some pretty fucking fantastic album sleeves on that label, too. Plenty worth mounting and framing.
Walrus birth doesn't make good breakfast conversation!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: coffeepotman and 5 guests