Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Aesthetic Value of Parodies

From wikipedia, A parody (pronounced /ˈpærədi/; also called send-up, spoof or lampoon), in contemporary usage, is a work created to mock, comment on, or make fun at an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation.

There are parodies too in music. It’s easy. Pick a song you like, change the lyrics and the music a bit. Make it sound super funny and cheesy for whatever that you’re accomplishing. How artistic is that? For the sake of entertainment? For the advancement of your musical career? Okay, it’s time to sit down and grasp the whole ideology for a second.

People do parodies for a variety of reasons and mostly for entertainment. You know, all the fun stuff, make you yourself laugh, make other people laugh and make fun of the original work and authors. Sorry if you find sarcasm in that, to me parodies can’t never be aesthetically challenging or intellectual as the original especially in the comedic approach. One would really really have to try hard to impress or make me laugh with a parody for most of the time. I think it’s primarily the idea of using an existing work as a parody that bothers me somehow. Why can’t it be original and funny? Why must it originate or based from something else?

When I was first introduced to parodies, I kept thinking on why the person did not do something original in the first place. I began to ponder if parody stems from the combination of parrot and comedy. That would’ve been so unfortunate for a person to go down the level of an animal being, for the sake of comedy. It really sound that degrading you know. It’s degrading for real musician with potential, in the sense that it would make me believe at some point that these performers have limited abilities. They can only mock people but not be original. Sad. It forces me to believe that musical parodies are for people with very limited or possibly no music appreciation at all.

To enjoy a parody, I would have to try not to think of anything and just laugh or pretend laughing to go with the flow. Yes it can be insane, but the thought of doing it is funny by itself, that I am particularly laughing at myself but not the parody.

In a different point of view, I strongly agree that it bogs down to the chemistry of the performer and the audience. If you can relate yourself, everything in the world is and would be funny given any possible circumstances. Other than that, it’s a hack and slash effort for the parody performer to foster this chemistry.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vocal harmony and acapella

Acapela is a musical genre or style of music that is performed without the use of musical instruments but merely vocals. It requires a great use of vocal harmonies ranging from 3 or more singers. As you may know, 3 singers will create "chords" or triads that would sound enjoyable to listen to if they each use a different musical note.

The more people involved in the acapella performance the better it would be. A large ensemble of acapella performers can also be called a choir while a smaller one is often call an acapella group (3 to 8 people). The difference is that for a choir, a single musical note can be sung by more than one singer, thus having a voice doubling effect. This effect is similar to a chorus effect that you find in a guitar effects processor for example.

In a music production for albums or television / radio commercials, the use of vocal harmony can be used for two common reasons:
  • To provide a rich texture or layer of harmony in the music arrangement and to create an ethereal effect that defines space in the music.
  • To support the main vocal and lift the entire mood of the music if the singer sounded too weak or lack of characteristics in his or her performance.
To harmonize when singing can be a difficult task to accomplished. You need to practice a lot and it is best to be done with friends in a group of three or more. Use a piano or keyboard as a reference and you can start by choosing a note on the keyboard and have each and everyone of your friends to sing a different note that correspond to a triad or chords. For example, you can hum to tune of C while another friend of yours hum to the tune of E and the other one on G. This will create a triad of C Major chord.

Here's an example of a well arranged vocal harmony / acapella performance by the infamous vocal group Boys II Men. The song is "Yesterday" originally from The Beatles.