Sunday, October 24, 2010

We were sitting in a train, somewhere between Antwerp and Bruges. Perhaps it was even Bruges and Brussels, I can't even be sure. It was an unlikely situation. We sat on the fold down, dark blue vinyl chairs of the spacious baggage area. There wasn't any other place we could sit. I was thinking of important matters, namely Petit Tom and Baroque Pop. The paradox of Baroque Pop to be precise. I sat with the baby laptop on my knees and described the situation to my brother.

"You see, Baroque Pop is a paradox, because it is the pairing up of two incongruent genres. Baroque should have nothing to do with Pop."
My brother remained distracted, staring at the sleeping man sitting across from us.
"OK."
"It just doesn't make sense. I don't understand how it could have emerged, the blending of high culture and low culture. I mean, it clearly started in the mid sixties with the Left Banke, the Cake and the Kinks and so forth. It was obviously popularised by the harpsichord interlude of In My Life and who could forget Eleanor Rigby?"
He remained blank.
"Alright."

We remained silent for a few moments as I tried to develop something of a coherent argument.
"There's something in the sound. There's something about the instrumentation of Baroque Pop which makes it seem as if pop music had some kind of historical basis in classical music, when it was simply never the case."
He flinched his brow.
"It wasn't?"
I paused for a moment.
"Well, pop obviously originated from rock n roll, but that had little to do with the classical tradition."
"But some pop musicians can read music. Some." He trailed off. The man across from us slumped deeper in his chair. "I think the problem is that I don't know what you're talking about."

I pulled out my then-functioning iRiver. It was happy and intact, well before I dropped it on a tiled floor in Rome. I pressed some buttons strategically and passed him his set of headphones.
"Listen to this."
We sat in silent concentration and listened to the Kinks' Village Green. I knew he would like it, after all we both dug the harpsichord sound and ideas of a lost England. After it finished, he handed the headphones back to me.
"Maybe they used classical instruments because it just sounded nice."
I looked back at the slumped man and curled my lip in resignation.
"Maybe you're right."


Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Baroque Pop Podcast #23
The Morning Benders - Excuses
The Kinks - Village Green
Blur - Clover Over Dover
Eddie Howell - Man from Manhattan
Split Enz - My Mistake
Jeremy Messersmith - Organ Donor
Patrick Wolf - The Libertine
The Magnetic Fields - I Don't Really Love You Anymore

Download (28 MB)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good Article