My Inbox tells me some folks think I’m a music snob.
Well, I am. I prefer vocalists who can actually find and reproduce pitches accurately, as a bare starting point. (Most people can’t tell how very bad the vocals they listen to day in and day out are on just this very basic criterion.) After pitch production, still epaking of just vocalists here, tone, vowels, clarity and the degree to which a vocalist uses their instrument effectively all add up… or subtract from my consideration of their artistry.
And all this is quite apart from the artistry–or more usually lack of artistry–of the lyrics, the tune, the harmonies and rhythms of a simple vocal number, which is the most complex music most folks (don’t really) listen to.
And then, at some level, I’m always listening as well for ways I’d score the piece differently, ways I’d prefer the vocalist(s) and instrumentalists use their instruments differently, etc. Always rearranging and rescoring and re-performing pieces in my head. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Now, I’ve not been able to “correct” *heh* most orchestral works by really good composers in quite that way (although I usually have some small–or large–argument with a conductor on how he chooses o present a piece), largely because good composers and truly good instrumentalists (who have usually worked far longer and more diligently to create real chops than most pop “artists”) remove a grat deal of citical perdormance issues before the performance.
But still there is a lot of talent out there in the popular arena, and some of it has been burnished with enough hard work to be worth listening to. For example, despite the fact that I absolutely abhor the way Emi Fujita treats vowels (and the ocassional consonant) in her English performances, I have to give her a bit of a bye in that area simply because she is attempting English from her background as a native Japanese speaker, and I’d hate for, say, a native Russian speaker critique my Russian when singing a Mussorgsky piece! *heh* But I’d also have to cut her some slack because her performances are so very musical. Yes, I’d like to erradicate a couple of vocal idiosyncracies she exhibits, but surprisingly–to me–even otherwse annoying vocal habits are overcome by her simple artistry, where in lesser talents the same flaws stand out as glaring annoyances.
And her accompanying instrumentals are also always worth listening to–good arranging choices, more often than not.
Here’s an example–just a typical example, nothing special or out of the ordinary–of an average Emi Fujita performance:
Now, here’s the rub: I love her performances on many levels, but. *sigh* She seems to sometimes suffer from the same sort of problem many young students who are beginning to sing art songs in Italian, French, German or whatever suffer from: no real connections to the underlying meanings of the piece, just singing the notes and phonetically reproducing the sounds. I don’t get this feeling all that often from her, but it’s enough that it’s a small detraction. Small.
But even there, she’s so very, very much better than most American native English speaking popular vocalists that I almost despair for vocal music recording in these (dis)United States. *sigh* Almost. There are enough examples of good musical and lyrical artistry (Janis Ian comes readily to mind, for example) that I know musicality isn’t dead, but it’s discouraging to turn on the radio and be forced to turn it off, because there’s no music worth listening to.
So, yes, I am a music snob in that I much prefer actual music to regurgitated feces.