Tag Archives: music

Mac DeMarco, Tivoli Utrecht Nov. 29 2017 Utrecht

I learned to know the music from Mac DeMarco around the time his second album ‘2’ was released. It sounded low-fi mainly because he was using an old Tascam 8-track recorder with lots of wow and flutter. Nevertheless the effect of Mac playing all instruments by himself combined with the catchy melodies and low-fi sound resulted in a pleasant listening experience with songs like ‘Ode to Viceroy‘ and ‘My Kind of Woman‘. Mac could effortlessly continue this pleasant mix on his next album with his unmistakably best known song ‘Chamber of Reflection‘.

All of these songs were of course present in the playlist of his concert in Utrecht. Before Mac would hit the stage there was the supporting act Montero that painted nice psychedelic landscapes with Beatlesque song structures.

So at 9 PM it was time for Mac deMarco. It was the first time for me to see him play live and from what I had read things could become quite outrageous at his concerts. None of this happened in Utrecht, besides his somewhat distorted and clumsy way of movements and some beer drinking everything remained normal. He excused for having lost his voice for ‘hanging out too late’ and asked the crowd to sing the vocals on ‘My Kind of Woman’. It took some time before the public really connected with what was going on stage but when ‘Freaking Out the Neighbourhood’ was started the atmosphere changed and the first stage climbers and crowd surfers were noticed.

The set of regular songs was not too long and contained a nice anthology from all of his albums. One of the highlights for me was ‘My Old Man’ that got some minimalistic and jazzy treatment.  Because most of Mac’s songs are quite laid back (and the trend is getting more and more noticeable with each new album) the public had to wait until the ‘official’ playlist was done before the adequate band set in with a set of their favourite songs. This set covered more heavy and up tempo songs like ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’, ‘Californication’, ‘Run With the Devil’. Mac often took place behind the drum set letting his drummer take care of the vocal duties.

Music

Why does music play such a significant role in our lives? Do we know anyone who does not like music to some extent?

As humans we were blessed with the gift of creating, performing and passively enjoying music and are the only creatures on this planet who have all these capacities. As long as man inhabited this world he created music. Through scientific research we know that music is a powerful tool in the development of a child’s brain and the brain in general. Music is an important means to identify you as a human, especially when you are in adolescent age. Music can play an important aspect to determine the social group you want to be part of.

Music can give us consolation remembering past time experiences, our beloved ones or special occasions in our lives. Music can make us relaxed or make us aroused and lift up our spirits. Music brings us together and music makes us dance. Mathematicians have dealt with music because music and sound are bound to the laws of nature and therefor is a grateful subject for mathematicians since the days of the Greek and Roman physicians in Antiquity.

For musicians music can be a means to seek popularity. Or even look for a larger than life perspective, especially since mankind discovered ways to annotate and record music, so music could be reproduced for future performances Those could take place long after its creator had deceased. Yet music is -like all forms of art- vulnerable and each generation creates its own music hoping it will stay relevant. Those chances are unfortunately minimal: we only have to look back at our own history to know that music recorded in the 1930s through 1980s is probably relatively unknown to most of the audience that nowadays listen to music. If we travel back further in time we find that only a handful of the compositions of composers from the Middle Ages and Modern Age are still being performed and listened to in our time (think Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and the likes). Music created before that time is practically lost to us, although there are a few exceptions.

When the industrial and scientific revolution in Europe boomed at the end of the 18th century it also had a profound impact on composers, musicians and the way the listener experience music. Composers of music no longer needed to make their income from physical performances but could arrange their compositions for sheet music. Musicians from anywhere could buy those sheet music and perform the music without ever having heard the original from the composer. Early on in the 20th century new possibilities became available that even would take the reproduction music to a new level. Music could now be recorded and reproduced. First through the use of mechanical reproduction vinyl, later through digital media like the CD and in our current era through the use of streaming media.

On a personal level I always had a great interest in sound and music, an interest that went beyond that of the average interested musician or listener. As a young person I mastered different instruments like flute, piano and guitar. Meanwhile I discovered I found it more interesting to record the results of music making than to play music together with other musicians or to perform live. Over the years I always felt intrigued and inspired by how instruments sound, from the most simple percussion instruments to complex electronic instruments (and everything in between). Some of my favorite sounding instruments are: the gamelan, the dulcimer, pipe organ, celesta, Moog and Oberheim synthesizer.

So I developed an interest in creating and recording music. Composing and recording music is a strange process. It is difficult to express how and why ideas emerge and why some ideas grow into a composition and other ideas land on a shelf or worse, are forgotten over time. I save most ideas like making a notation that come to mind. Those ideas come from playing some piano chords or noodling on a guitar, but also riding on my bike is good for inspiration. At a certain point I decide that an idea is interesting enough to invest more time into it. When the time comes to record the music it is also a bit strange process. Sometimes things fall easily into place, sometimes you can struggle for weeks to ‘get it right’. What this ‘get it right’ exactly means is difficult to say but it has something to do with reaching a point where you find your composition and recording is ‘like it should be’ and can be considered finished.

Recently I finished a new album ‘Piano and Guitar, Vol. I’. It means to me that I return to these instruments and rely less on electronic instruments. You can listen to my new album on Spotify