Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What difference does it make? The ease of making some sort of music

One of the wonderful things about music is that it's very easy to create it. Now it's hard to create professional-quality music, but it's very easy to create music in general.

Let me cite an example.

As my friends know, I'll often get in moods in which I listen to a single song over and over. Last weekend, the song in question was "What Difference Does It Make?" by the Smiths. I found a YouTube video of a performance of the song on Top of the Pops, and just listened to the video (embedding disabled by request) again and again.

Then I had to go gas up my car.

So, as I was driving alone to Costco to gas up, you can guess what I was doing in the car.

Yes, I was creating music.

And even though I was facing several handicaps, I was still able to create music.

The first handicap that I faced was that I don't know all of the lyrics to the song "What Difference Does It Make?" In fact, I only know five of the words in the lyrics. (No extra credit if you can guess those five words.) So my vocal performance sounded like this:

What difference does it make?
What difference does it make? Oh oh oh...
Da da da,
Da da da da-da da...

At this point, I encountered the second handicap - I did not have a guitar with me in the car. And even if I had a guitar with me in the car, I was driving and therefore unable to play it. And even if I were parked and had a guitar, my guitar skills are, to put it mildly, deficient. (I can play a C chord, and I could probably pick out the riff to "What Difference Does It Make?" but it would be at a VERY slow speed.

So you can guess what I did next:

Da da da da
Da da-da da da
Da da da da
Da da-da da da...

So, as you can see, it's very easy to create music. And it's even possible to expand on it. When Morrissey sang the chorus, he had a hint of a yodel in it. As a lover of Slim Whitman, I wondered what would happen if that were converted into a full yodel, with an octave jump.

What difference does it ma-AKE...

And obviously I'm not the only one. All sorts of people, with all sorts of musical skills, have a desire to perform a song that they like. In the car on your morning commute, in the shower before your morning commute, or in your cubicle or dorm room with the headphones on, many of us are creating music.

And some people create videos of themselves making music. For example, here's a video of laydjay (Jacqueline Sinclair of All About the Dots on MySpace and Facebook), possibly in someone's apartment, singing the song (unfortunately, without any Slim Whitman touches, although she does some interesting vocals toward the end). I'm not sure who is accompanying her.

Here's a video of a guy who started playing the Smiths' recording of the song, then played along on the lead guitar part.

Here's another video of another guy who did the same thing.

Here's yet another guy who not only videoed himself playing "What Difference Does it Make?" but also played a bunch of other riffs. ("Difference" is about four minutes into the video.) His name's Johnny.

Seriously, this guy Johnny shares some interesting observations about guitar sound and guitar culture. I guess he knows what he's talking about.
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