Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by eldin raigmore »

Why is it that in so many films’ combat scenes, the incidental music is
Santa Esmeralda’s flamenco version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”?
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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eldin raigmore wrote: 02 Apr 2021 18:54 Why is it that in so many films’ combat scenes, the incidental music is
Santa Esmeralda’s flamenco version of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”?
WoW

[O.O]

Dare I ask what kinds of movies you've been watching?

:mrred:

That was an unexpected crossover that just can't be ùnseen. (No matter how hard one tries!) Had to detox from that disco nightmare!

:mrgreen:
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by eldin raigmore »

elemtilas wrote: 02 Apr 2021 19:41 Dare I ask what kinds of movies you've been watching?
Flamenco version:
Kill Bill:
https://youtu.be/uSjS_l3wGu8

Good Bad Weird:
https://youtu.be/VBYBYSRBGfY

Magnificent Seven 2016:
https://youtu.be/HVBP4HVEkfw

Blood and sand (not combat):
https://youtu.be/nJ4OjoChTWI

Sword fight montage (not just one movie):
https://youtu.be/n1l5m-h6Ugo

....

Other versions:
American Me
Bird man
Crimes of Grinwald
In Her Eyes
Layer Cake
Luther

........

Probably others I forgot about

....

I do understand why Nina Simone and Eric Burdon and Joe Cocker (reggae) and other versions are preferable for some movies.
I don’t really understand why anyone wouldn’t like the flamenco version, but then some people don’t understand why I don’t like cantaloupe. There is no explaining taste.

....

“Flamenco” comes from the Spanish word for “Flemish”.
During the time when the Netherlands were subject to the Spanish crown, the Flamenco stomp was part of the Flemish fencing style. Adding it to a dance was something that happened; and Spaniards liking it and imitating it was also something that happened.
So maybe it makes sense that some flamenco tune would get associated with cinematic sword fights.
Why this one in particular, though?
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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eldin raigmore wrote: 03 Apr 2021 00:18 Crimes of Grindlewald
That's a long list! I'm going to have to review CoG again --- I either have no memory of discoflamenco battle music at all or was so seriously scarred by the event that I've completely stricken it from my mind!
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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Anthropologically, I think it's Tarantino that started using this kind of music in fight scenes, and concretely in that one scene from kill kill, and other people imitated it cause it's cool.

Viscerally, I get it: I'm not sure I can adequately convey the idea but here's a try: that intro... it's spectacular, full of rhythm, exotic (nylonstrings are coded as exotic in american movies, no I don't know why, you anglos tell me) and just joyous.

No, seriously: fights aren't typically joyous but then again they sometimes are, especially metaphorical fights, and that's the feeling of this kind of fight scene: The women are locked in a politeness cage... until they aren't: fighting can be a thing of athleticism, of rhythm, and of that mental state called flow: until you get cut, that is, which is exactly what happens in the movie.

Also, in general film scoring is a very professionalized, streamlined industry: with modern VSTs and other gear a competent producer can make you an excellent score for a scene for a week of his time: now, granted, he charges a lot for a week of his time, but it's still kind of a small a lot: say 2k usd. this is nice in some ways, but incentivizes tropes, imitation and outright copying: how many times have you heard that very deep bwoooooooooooooo sound from inception in newer movies? all professional music is like this, I think: ask a violist about marriages and pachelbel's canon in D.
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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elemtilas wrote: 05 Apr 2021 03:53
eldin raigmore wrote: 03 Apr 2021 00:18 Crimes of Grindlewald
That's a long list! I'm going to have to review CoG again --- I either have no memory of discoflamenco battle music at all or was so seriously scarred by the event that I've completely stricken it from my mind!
Crimes of Grinwald is one of the non-disco non-flamenco versions of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

….

@Torco:
Thanks for your insights!
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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Torco wrote: 15 Jun 2021 03:36 Anthropologically, I think it's Tarantino that started using this kind of music in fight scenes, and concretely in that one scene from kill kill, and other people imitated it cause it's cool.
This? It sounds so out of place!
Viscerally, I get it: I'm not sure I can adequately convey the idea but here's a try: that intro... it's spectacular, full of rhythm, exotic (nylonstrings are coded as exotic in american movies, no I don't know why, you anglos tell me) and just joyous.
I was going to ask you. I've always associated nylon strings with "folk" music -- hum-n-strum guitar (yeah, yeah the bass strings are metal wound), harp -- and also with HIP classical music where nylon sometimes stands in for gut, when they're not actually using gut strings.

I definitely don't associate that style of music with fight scenes. Though I think it could be the conjunction of DANCE and MARTIAL ART (rather than just melée fighting) that the composer was trying to accomplish.
No, seriously: fights aren't typically joyous but then again they sometimes are, especially metaphorical fights, and that's the feeling of this kind of fight scene: The women are locked in a politeness cage... until they aren't: fighting can be a thing of athleticism, of rhythm, and of that mental state called flow: until you get cut, that is, which is exactly what happens in the movie.
Indeed! Denê warfare is of this kind. Among themselves anyway! Though nylon strings are not involved in any way.
Also, in general film scoring is a very professionalized, streamlined industry: with modern VSTs and other gear a competent producer can make you an excellent score for a scene for a week of his time: now, granted, he charges a lot for a week of his time, but it's still kind of a small a lot: say 2k usd. this is nice in some ways, but incentivizes tropes, imitation and outright copying: how many times have you heard that very deep bwoooooooooooooo sound from inception in newer movies? all professional music is like this, I think: ask a violist about marriages and pachelbel's canon in D.
And it's been that way forever. Kind of funny how writers call it "plagiarism" while composers call it "homage". [;)]
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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Torco wrote: 15 Jun 2021 03:36 Anthropologically, I think it's Tarantino that started using this kind of music in fight scenes, and concretely in that one scene from kill kill, and other people imitated it cause it's cool.
I don't know how much is novel to Tarantino, but I have some ideas on why Tarantino chose that song for that scene. I think it's his attempt to bring the language of classical film scores into the language of Tarantino film scores - that is, I think he (or his crew) chose that song to imitate the sort of music that would usually be there.

Duels are often scored (when not scored with dramatic silence!) with percussive, rhythmic music - sometimes pure modernism, sometimes suggesting dance/march music (the former is more dramatic, but the latter allows a smoother flow into the scenes before and after the duel). There's sometimes a soaring vocal-style line over it, particularly if it's a dramatic finale. It's common to have a Spanish flavour (eg guitars, castanets), because of the long association of Spain with swordfighting. For an earlier generation's take on the trope, try Morricone's The Trio, from TGTB&TU: dance-like rhythm, with a soaring vocal line over the top (sometimes actual voices, sometimes brass), lots of percussion (including an imitation of the rattle of castanets), guitars, and guitar-invoking music (arpeggios and tremolos). I think Tarantino picking a song with a pop melody, Spanish affectations, and a dance beat is kind of his homage to music like The Trio, within his own musical language of 'drop in a pop song'.
[another version can be heard in, for example, the Westley-Inigo duel in The Princess Bride, in the mid-80s. Here, it's Mark Knopfler is imitating a Korngoldesque romantic violin fight theme, but he's combining it with modern synthesizers and periodic dance rhythms, including some teasing castanet rattles along the way]

[there's also a more general old trope of having quiet, gentle music, like guitars, to lead in to scenes of violence].

A more recent thing on Tarantino's mind might have been Rodriguez' "Desperado" (1995), the score of which combines flamenco-style, pop-style and (a bit of) classical-style music, particularly in its fight scenes. Rodriguez and Tarantino obviously know each other and have overlapping styles; Kill Bill is arguably Tarantino doing Rodriguez in some ways (with its ridiculously over-the-top, stylised violence and revenge plot); Kill Bill came out the same year as the sequel to Desperado.
Also, in general film scoring is a very professionalized, streamlined industry: with modern VSTs and other gear a competent producer can make you an excellent score for a scene for a week of his time: now, granted, he charges a lot for a week of his time, but it's still kind of a small a lot: say 2k usd. this is nice in some ways, but incentivizes tropes, imitation and outright copying: how many times have you heard that very deep bwoooooooooooooo sound from inception in newer movies? all professional music is like this, I think: ask a violist about marriages and pachelbel's canon in D.
The Canon (which I usually associate with funerals, btw, rather than weddings...) isn't so much imitation as just... a popular piece of music. But yes, of course music is dictated by fashion, but that's not a new thing. The extent to which Hollywood film scores at one point all sounded like Schiffrin is matched only by the extent to which they'd previously sounded like Korngold!
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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Salmoneus wrote: 16 Jun 2021 01:24 The Canon (which I usually associate with funerals, btw, rather than weddings...) isn't so much imitation as just... a popular piece of music.
Heh, I have this friend named Jolene who's always taking about how she loves tacos and wanting to stop at Taco Bell. I sometimes tell this joke:

Q: What piece of classical music is going to be played at Jolene's wedding?
A: Taco Bell's Canon in D.
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

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I definitely don't associate that style of music with fight scenes. Though I think it could be the conjunction of DANCE and MARTIAL ART (rather than just melée fighting) that the composer was trying to accomplish.
I was going to ask you. I've always associated nylon strings with "folk" music
for some historical reason, wire stringed acoustics never really took off in latin america. I expect the same to be true of spain, italy and greece, though I'm just guessing. and when an anglo thinks about exotic he thinks of somewhere between michoacan and algeciras? my best guess, that is. Now, why did steel strings see absolute adoption in the us but not down here is anyone's guess. maybe because the americans don't really have pre-industrial guitar traditions? what was the music of the first settlers in north america? was it the case that guitars came into the american mind as consumer goods to be bought at a supermarket by an employee with a wage? i have no clue tbh, but if so, it would explain it: if you want to sell a decent guitar to someone who doesn't know guitars, you're more likely to use whatever innovation is convenient: you kind of can't play traditional spanish and latin american music on a steel string, or, well, you can but... it's not the same. folk just means 'preindustrial' anyway, so in a way you're right: nylon strings are associated with folk guitar cause guitars used to be strung with gut, which nylon much better imitates.
Khemehekis wrote: 16 Jun 2021 01:53
Salmoneus wrote: 16 Jun 2021 01:24 The Canon (which I usually associate with funerals, btw, rather than weddings...) isn't so much imitation as just... a popular piece of music.
Heh, I have this friend named Jolene who's always taking about how she loves tacos and wanting to stop at Taco Bell. I sometimes tell this joke:

Q: What piece of classical music is going to be played at Jolene's wedding?
A: Taco Bell's Canon in D.
groans in overacted pain
tho that's an adorable in-joke tbh.
The Canon (which I usually associate with funerals, btw, rather than weddings...) isn't so much imitation as just... a popular piece of music. But yes, of course music is dictated by fashion, but that's not a new thing. The extent to which Hollywood film scores at one point all sounded like Schiffrin is matched only by the extent to which they'd previously sounded like Korngold!
Or more recently, Zimmer/Williams/Elfman
these days they all sound...
wait
i haven't seen a hollywood movie in 16 months help
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by Salmoneus »

Torco wrote: 26 Jun 2021 05:45 I definitely don't associate that style of music with fight scenes. Though I think it could be the conjunction of DANCE and MARTIAL ART (rather than just melée fighting) that the composer was trying to accomplish.
To be clear, I was only talking about dueling, not 'fight scenes' in general.
I was going to ask you. I've always associated nylon strings with "folk" music
for some historical reason, wire stringed acoustics never really took off in latin america. I expect the same to be true of spain, italy and greece, though I'm just guessing. and when an anglo thinks about exotic he thinks of somewhere between michoacan and algeciras? my best guess, that is. Now, why did steel strings see absolute adoption in the us but not down here is anyone's guess. maybe because the americans don't really have pre-industrial guitar traditions? what was the music of the first settlers in north america?
Taking the questions in a different order...

First: are steel-strung guitars really that big a thing in the US? If so, it's not because they're idiot "anglos", since in the UK, at least in my experience, nylon guitars are much more common. Nylon guitars are (in my limited experience) the usual learning tool, and most people who want to carry on playing a guitar will either want to play rock (transition to an electric guitar), or popular folk (stay nylon), or revivalist folk (either nylon guitar or steel-strung non-guitar).

--------

Second: steel-strung guitars have two origins in the US.

One origin is as an answer to the question of how to make the instrument louder. Guitars in the US were often solo accompaniment instruments, to accompany the semi-operatic 'crooning' vocal style in increasingly large and loud dance halls and music halls; they needed powerful instruments, particularly in the bass, and didn't worry too much about melodic delicacy. Archtops were invented first, then flat-top steel-strung guitars in the 1910s, taking off in the 1920s, then steel-strung archtops, and resophonic guitars, and finally electric guitars.

The other origin is that Portuguese sailors - and English sailors who spent time in Madeira - introduced Portuguese intruments to Hawaii in the late 19th century; these included small nylon guitars (what we now call the 'ukelele') and larger steel guitars, which became known in the US as 'Hawaiian guitars'. Hawaiians then increased the distinctiveness of their new favourite instrument by playing them horizontally and using cylindrical "steels" to block out chords, rather than fingering the strings individually. "Hawaiian music" featuring these "steelguitars" then became a massive craze in the US in the 1900s and 1910s (persisting to a lesser extent right up to the 60s).

So the official story is that the widespread adoption of steel strings was simply a technological development driven by changes in music performance and the need for increased volume. In much of Latin America, dance hall culture and crooning music were slower to take off, and there was in any case much more use of the guitar as an ensemble instrument: if you have a whole guitar band, you don't need any individual guitar to be louder. However, it's probably not a coincidence that just as makers and performers were looking for a way to increase volume, steel-strung Hawaiian guitars became a massive craze. I suspect that, whether or not this directly inspired manufacturers, the sudden fashionability of steel-strung guitars in Hawaiian music probably helped people accept that sound more eagerly into 'mainstream' music than they might otherwise have done.

---------

Third: no, the idiot "anglos" don't generally equate 'exotic' with 'hispanic'. Spanish music mostly sounds Spanish. 'Exotic' is more likely to suggest Perso-Arabic, Indian or East Asian.

------

Fourth: yes, gut/nylon guitars are traditional in Spain. But no, they absolutely weren't resisted in Italy! The most stereotypical 'Italian' sound is the steel-strung mandolin. These took over in the 18th century, and were probably inspired by Greek, Turkish and Balkan instruments, all of which were traditionally wire. The Italian guitar - the chitarra battente - also developed around this time, also with steel strings.

Really, the bigger question is why the French/Spanish guitar innovated its gut strings! I wonder whether this is partly because the original vihuela was a big instrument, which probably couldn't withstand steel strings, so they used gut. Then, when smaller, more portable versions were made, borrowing the name of the 'guitar', they retained the gut strings for their distinctive sound. Iirc the lute was replaced by the vihuela/guitar sooner in Spain - I don't know if that's because the Spanish guitar took over, or whether the Spanish guitar took over because the lute was less firmly fixed there (was there a lingering association of it with Moorishness?).

------

Fifth: wire-strung acoustics DID take off in Latin America!

In the first place, we obviously have to break Brazil away from hispanophone Latin America: Brazil has always had Portuguese-style wire guitars, particular descendents of Portuguese 'violas' (Spanish guitar shape but steel strings). They even followed the US into resophones!

But also: they may be less popular today, but wire guitars used to be widespread in Latin American folk music, as they were in Spain. In Spain, there's the bandurria and the laud, the former of which is also found in South America, particularly in the Andes. Chilean music traditionally used the tiple and the charango (the latter of which is apparently now found with nylon strings, but was originally wire); the cuatro (derived from Portugal rather than Spain) is the national instrument of Venezuela. Puerto Rico also has a 'tiple' and a 'cuatro', though they're different from the south american instruments of that name; Cuba uses the laud cubano and the tres. Even Mexico has wire-string guitars still, in the south, and for ceremonial purposes.

It's not that Latin America has 'resisted' the wire-strung instruments; it's that nylon-strung instruments have gradually taken over, from an 'original' mixture of thw two families. I assume this is due to the introduction of larger, more powerful, mass-produced 'Spanish guitars' imported from the USA. [Americans mass-produced and exported the larger 'parlor guitar' in the mid-19th century; the even larger modern guitar was invented in Spain later in the century, but was then in turn readopted by the American manufacturers. Notably, it's Mexico and Argentina - the two countries most economically connected to the US and Britain respectively in the early 20th century, where the nylon guitar has become most dominant.]

------

Sixth and finally: America 'originally' played the wire-strung English guittar, which lasted longer in the US than it did in England - into the early decades of the 19th century. But it fell into desuetude, and was eventually replaced by the parlor guitar, so there's no direct link between it and modern American steel-strings.
was it the case that guitars came into the american mind as consumer goods to be bought at a supermarket by an employee with a wage?
No, guitars are much older than supermarkets. But yes, of course they were bought with wages!
i have no clue tbh, but if so, it would explain it: if you want to sell a decent guitar to someone who doesn't know guitars, you're more likely to use whatever innovation is convenient: you kind of can't play traditional spanish and latin american music on a steel string, or, well, you can but... it's not the same.
Which is ironic, because it's what a lot of it was written for!
folk just means 'preindustrial' anyway
Not necessarily!
In an anglophone context, "folk" often refers not to genuine rural music, but to a popular music style of the mid-20th century. A lot of American folk music in particular is explicitly industrial in themes (coal mines and steelworks and shipbuilders).
[and of course, almost no Western 'folk music' today is actually pre-industrial in style - the 'old' sort of folk music is still mostly just 19th century pop music, though a few of the tunes themselves may be older.]
The Canon (which I usually associate with funerals, btw, rather than weddings...) isn't so much imitation as just... a popular piece of music. But yes, of course music is dictated by fashion, but that's not a new thing. The extent to which Hollywood film scores at one point all sounded like Schiffrin is matched only by the extent to which they'd previously sounded like Korngold!
Or more recently, Zimmer/Williams/Elfman
these days they all sound...
wait
i haven't seen a hollywood movie in 16 months help
That's not necessarily a bad thing! [and how many people HAVE seen a hollywood movie in the last 16 months? the industry's been in crisis!]

But one thing I've noticed in recent years is there's a lot of what you might call post-minimalist music (I don't know if it's what people 'officially' mean by postminimalism): a lot of slow-moving melodies over gentle, repetitive arpeggios (or other pulsing chord-realisations).
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by Torco »

is anglo like a mean word? yall aren't idiots, not anymore than non anglos anyway. i'm sorry if it is. i just meant, well, anglos. i suppose i should have went with americans, tho. brits have a long history of wirestrings, as you say.

Charangos weren't originally strung with wire, they were originally strung with gut. I think, though I'm less sure, the same is true for cuatros. The spanish laud does use steels, but it's more of a contemporary instrument to the spanish guitar rather than an ancestor iirc: It's known steels were used for charangos for a long time as a cheaper alternative, since they're just amazingly more convenient, but as soon as nylons became available the practice seems to have disappeared: not entirely, however, as there's still mixed strings charangos. steels aren't inferior by any means, but they're very different.
That's not necessarily a bad thing! [and how many people HAVE seen a hollywood movie in the last 16 months? the industry's been in crisis!]
I would have expected avengers 19 would have been simulcast over 60 dollar tickets or something, but apparently it hasn't happened.
But one thing I've noticed in recent years is there's a lot of what you might call post-minimalist music (I don't know if it's what people 'officially' mean by postminimalism): a lot of slow-moving melodies over gentle, repetitive arpeggios (or other pulsing chord-realisations).
agreed: I blame vsts controlled through a piano-like midi device: pianos really sort of ask you to arpeggiate, I've heard composers refer to broken chords as 'pianistic'. also, arps are just more fun than block chords, though they really hurt the intelligibility of any voice leading one wants to use.
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by elemtilas »

Torco wrote: 26 Jun 2021 05:45
I definitely don't associate that style of music with fight scenes. Though I think it could be the conjunction of DANCE and MARTIAL ART (rather than just melée fighting) that the composer was trying to accomplish.

I was going to ask you. I've always associated nylon strings with "folk" music
and when an anglo thinks about exotic he thinks of somewhere between michoacan and algeciras? my best guess, that is.
Dunno. What counts as an "anglo" and what counts as "exotic" will naturally vary quite widely! I don't find really any music particularly exotic. Though I think if we judge by movie standards, exotic seems to lie somewhere between Mystical Celtic and Mysterious Oriental.

For what it worths, "anglo" is not a mean word. Not an insult anyway. If it means American, then fair enough!

Now, why did steel strings see absolute adoption in the us but not down here is anyone's guess.
Economics primarily and also a great shift in musical culture. The 19th century saw a lot of musical instrument development in every class of instrument, and it also saw a lot of development in the orchestra and orchestration. All the instruments needed to be louder, and so stringed instruments all got metal strings. ​As orchestras switched to metal strings, makers made instruments strong enough to accommodate the tension, and those are the instruments people bought. During the 19th century, wages and living conditions improved considerably. One thing people bought was musical instruments --- anything from a 12c Clarke penny whistle up to a $125 piano. Organs (harmoniums, actually) were much more affordable at around $30 to $40; fiddles could be bought from about $3 and up; and guitars from around $4.00. The strings one could buy in the late 19th century from a catalogue (like Sears or Wards) were either gut (imported and expensive) or else steel (made in the US are inexpensive). 60c or so for a set of Italian made gut violin strings vs 10c for American made steel. A set of steel guitar strings would set you back about 50c or 60c.

maybe because the americans don't really have pre-industrial guitar traditions? what was the music of the first settlers in north america? was it the case that guitars came into the american mind as consumer goods to be bought at a supermarket by an employee with a wage?
There were certainly guitars in early America! In British America, they would have come over with their owners just as harpsichords, flutes, serpents, violins & cellos would have come over, and they would have been either English made or imported into England and thence transported.

By the 1830s, the US was definitely in the business of making guitars, Martin being one of the first US makers.

As far as where they could be bought: certainly music shops and direct from the factories, if you lived close by. Travelling merchants were certainly a reality, and after the Civil War, catalogue shopping became huge. If Amazon is big, there were no fewer than two ginormous catalogue houses in late 19th century America. And they all sold a wide variety of musical instruments from penny whistles that could go in the mail to organs and pianos that had to go by train.
i have no clue tbh, but if so, it would explain it: if you want to sell a decent guitar to someone who doesn't know guitars, you're more likely to use whatever innovation is convenient: you kind of can't play traditional spanish and latin american music on a steel string, or, well, you can but... it's not the same. folk just means 'preindustrial' anyway, so in a way you're right: nylon strings are associated with folk guitar cause guitars used to be strung with gut, which nylon much better imitates.

In the US, "folk" refers to a couple different things. When I say I associate nylon string guitars with folk, that's a reference to the 1960s folk revival, and later "folk" music that prefers the more intimate sound of nylon strings. I don't think it has anything to do with gut strings per se or some kind of cultural memory of gut strings. Ordinary folk music -- music played by people, and often equivalent to "traditional music" -- can be played on whatever kinds of strings you've got handy. Could be steel strings, could be gut, could be nylon, could be weed whacker string or fishing line.

Traditional Spanish music definitely gets played on steel strings! I think there's certainly something to say for gut and silk strings, though. A lovely sound!
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by Salmoneus »

elemtilas wrote: 27 Jun 2021 07:32
Now, why did steel strings see absolute adoption in the us but not down here is anyone's guess.
During the 19th century, wages and living conditions improved considerably. One thing people bought was musical instruments --- anything from a 12c Clarke penny whistle up to a $125 piano. Organs (harmoniums, actually) were much more affordable at around $30 to $40; fiddles could be bought from about $3 and up; and guitars from around $4.00. The strings one could buy in the late 19th century from a catalogue (like Sears or Wards) were either gut (imported and expensive) or else steel (made in the US are inexpensive). 60c or so for a set of Italian made gut violin strings vs 10c for American made steel. A set of steel guitar strings would set you back about 50c or 60c.
In general: those are interesting numbers. What's your source?

More specifically: I'm very surprised by the claim that steel guitar strings were so cheap in the 19th century, because mainstream histories claim that steel guitar strings weren't widespread until the 20th century. Grove believes that the first began to appear in the 1880s (Larson; in fact, Grove says that no manufacturers had considered the necessary extra bracing until the Larsons (unlike with most string instruments, you can't just put steel strings on a gut guitar, because the construction is too flimsy)) and 1890s (Gibson), but weren't popularised until adopted by Martin in the 1920s.
There were certainly guitars in early America! In British America, they would have come over with their owners just as harpsichords, flutes, serpents, violins & cellos would have come over, and they would have been either English made or imported into England and thence transported.
Spanish guitars (as opposed to English guittars) would have been very rare in colonial America (outside of Florida, presumably!), as they were in England. They weren't popularised until the mid-19th century. Indeed, the Spanish guitar in the modern sense didn't really exist prior to the Declaration of Independence: guitars at the time would have had five double-courses (single strings were a French invention; guitars from Spain remained double-coursed for much of the 19th century), in re-entrant tuning, without fingerboards or fixed frets, with vaulted backs, with roses, with minimal strutting, at a much smaller scale, and in particular without the modern bridge/saddle, which considerably alters the acoustics (by imparting a twisting action to the soundboard). The modern guitar was invented by Torres in the late 19th century; this is probably why there are so many guitaroid instruments in Latin America - it's taking a long time for the Torresian guitar to fully penetrate the continent and replace all the local varieties.

[OK, apparently there might have been 'guitars' in colonial America. There was a brief craze for them in the Restoration era, as Charles was a fan, and it's possible that some of them might have been brought to the colonies. However, they'd fallen out of favour by 1700; the 18th century (and the first few decades of the 19th in the US) were all guittar territory.
By the 1830s, the US was definitely in the business of making guitars, Martin being one of the first US makers.
Martin didn't arrive in New York (bringing his Austrian-style guitars with him) until 1833. I doubt you'll find many US guitars older than 1833. Indeed, they remained a niche instrument throughout the century - mandolins and banjos were much more popular.
In the US, "folk" refers to a couple different things. When I say I associate nylon string guitars with folk, that's a reference to the 1960s folk revival
To reiterate: this is also what it usually means in the UK. I get the sense it's changing a bit now, with more hipster 'Irish' bands with 'bouzoukis' and 'Irish flutes' and whatnot, but conventionally 'folk' means a pop music genre from the 50s/60s.
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by elemtilas »

Salmoneus wrote: 27 Jun 2021 17:01
elemtilas wrote: 27 Jun 2021 07:32
Now, why did steel strings see absolute adoption in the us but not down here is anyone's guess.
During the 19th century, wages and living conditions improved considerably. One thing people bought was musical instruments --- anything from a 12c Clarke penny whistle up to a $125 piano. Organs (harmoniums, actually) were much more affordable at around $30 to $40; fiddles could be bought from about $3 and up; and guitars from around $4.00. The strings one could buy in the late 19th century from a catalogue (like Sears or Wards) were either gut (imported and expensive) or else steel (made in the US are inexpensive). 60c or so for a set of Italian made gut violin strings vs 10c for American made steel. A set of steel guitar strings would set you back about 50c or 60c.
In general: those are interesting numbers. What's your source?
Sears Catalogue for 1895. As if Amazon has everything!
More specifically: I'm very surprised by the claim that steel guitar strings were so cheap in the 19th century, because mainstream histories claim that steel guitar strings weren't widespread until the 20th century. Grove believes that the first began to appear in the 1880s (Larson; in fact, Grove says that no manufacturers had considered the necessary extra bracing until the Larsons (unlike with most string instruments, you can't just put steel strings on a gut guitar, because the construction is too flimsy)) and 1890s (Gibson), but weren't popularised until adopted by Martin in the 1920s.
Well, 20c wasn't cheap! That's about a shilling. But relatively cheaper! And right: gut guitars (what we call "classical") can't handle the stresses of tuning with steel strings.
There were certainly guitars in early America! In British America, they would have come over with their owners just as harpsichords, flutes, serpents, violins & cellos would have come over, and they would have been either English made or imported into England and thence transported.
[OK, apparently there might have been 'guitars' in colonial America. There was a brief craze for them in the Restoration era, as Charles was a fan, and it's possible that some of them might have been brought to the colonies. However, they'd fallen out of favour by 1700; the 18th century (and the first few decades of the 19th in the US) were all guittar territory.
Yep. "English guitars" of the type you described a while back. The 19th century certainly killed the English guitar in America! Not that it was ever a truly popular instrument. Popular instruments were fiddles and flutes (either English (recorder) or German (transverse)).
By the 1830s, the US was definitely in the business of making guitars, Martin being one of the first US makers.
Martin didn't arrive in New York (bringing his Austrian-style guitars with him) until 1833. I doubt you'll find many US guitars older than 1833. Indeed, they remained a niche instrument throughout the century - mandolins and banjos were much more popular.
Yep! Like I said, the US wasn't a guitar making place until the 1830s with the arrival of Martin! They weren't terribly popular instruments until the middle of the century.

To reiterate: this (a reference to the 1960s folk revival) is also what it usually means in the UK. I get the sense it's changing a bit now, with more hipster 'Irish' bands with 'bouzoukis' and 'Irish flutes' and whatnot, but conventionally 'folk' means a pop music genre from the 50s/60s.
Curious: what do you call Actual Folk Music(TM) then? (If not just "folk music".)

Examples of the "1960s folk revival" kind of folk music:

Joan Baez (1965)
Clancy Brothers (1962)

Examples of what I'd call "Actual Folk Music":

some fine fiddling
Black Jack Davey
sacred harp
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by Salmoneus »

Torco wrote: 26 Jun 2021 20:13 is anglo like a mean word? yall aren't idiots, not anymore than non anglos anyway. i'm sorry if it is. i just meant, well, anglos.
Well, it's not exactly a slur, no. You wouldn't get thrown out of a restaurant for using it (well, unless the restaurant is in some parts of the US, I guess).

But I guess it did rile my hackles a little, because talking about people in broad, racialised terms isn't the politest way to refer to them. And abbreviating terms often sounds dismissive and is the basis of many slurs (from a UK context, the p-word looms large here), and abbreviations in -o are often out-of-date and insulting. I recognise that functionally calling someone an "anglo" is not the same as calling them, say, a "gyppo", or even a "jappo", but it's closer than I'd be comfortable with.

For comparison: if somebody made sweeping pronouncements about the music that "hispanics" liked, and the attitude that "hispanics" had toward things, I'd probably be even more uncomfortable, but in a similar way. And if that someone were instead talking about the music that "hispos" liked, then I'd assume they were a bigot. I don't assume that you're a bigot, but I do think that this isn't necessarily the most useful way to think or talk about people...

[particularly given just how diverse anglophonie is - everyone from hawai'ians to scots to indians to jamaicans to hongkongers...]
Charangos weren't originally strung with wire, they were originally strung with gut. I think, though I'm less sure, the same is true for cuatros.
This surprises me, because it's not what I'd heard before, but OK. However, it certainly seems as though wire had taken over before the introduction of nylon - note how in more remote rural areas, and particularly in the Andes, steel strings are still the norm (though there would have been no shortage of gut).

In any case, my point wasn't to argue about the specific history of any one instrument, to the extent that that even makes sense (is a gut-strung 'cuatro' even a cuatro? Isn't it just a four-string baroque guitar?). My point was that Latin America did not 'resist' wire strings, but instead embraced them, resulting in a continent whose instruments were at best a patchwork of steel and gut/nylon string, if not steel-dominated, before modern nylon instruments actually replaced them.
The spanish laud does use steels, but it's more of a contemporary instrument to the spanish guitar rather than an ancestor iirc
I didn't suggest the spanish guitar WAS descended from the laud! Just that Spain and Latin America were not without steel strings.

There's actually, AIUI, four instrument families at play here:

- true lutes, and their variants the mandolins
- gitterns, which may have originated from lutes but were probably separately introduced from the south
- citterns
- fiddles

The guitar is basically a plucked fiddle: from the fiddle, it inherited its distinctive shape, with flat back and waisted sides (to allow the bow to strike the strings at an angle), and its playing position, in the lap (the position of modern violins, on the arm, is instead probably taken from rebecs). A larger version, the vihuela or viola, became popular first, and so people needed a name for the smaller, treble version with only four strings that later became popular; it stole the name 'guitar' from the gitterns (gittern, ghitera, chitarra, quintern, etc), because it served a similar function to the gittern. However, Portuguese versions continued to be called 'viola', even though elsewhere that name remained with the non-plucked fiddles. At some point the guitar and many bowed violas picked up gut frets from the lute.

Citterns were a renaissance invention, with flat but sloping backs, round, teardrop or pear-shaped soundboards, and metal strings. Later descendents lost the sloping back.

Mandolins were smaller, fewer-stringed lutes, with the distinctive bowl back of the lute.

The spanish guitar is a fiddle; the portuguese guitar is a cittern. The bandurria, however, is weird - it's allegedly descended from the mandolin (hence its name), but it's a "flat-backed mandolin" - i.e. basically a cittern. The laúd likewise (and the bandolim, bandola, mandurria, etc). I don't know whether it's actually a cittern that took on a local name, or a mandolin that independently reinvented the form of the cittern. I suspect the former, in the same way that modern "Celtic" flat-backed mandolins are obviously just citterns with a different name...
But one thing I've noticed in recent years is there's a lot of what you might call post-minimalist music (I don't know if it's what people 'officially' mean by postminimalism): a lot of slow-moving melodies over gentle, repetitive arpeggios (or other pulsing chord-realisations).
agreed: I blame vsts controlled through a piano-like midi device: pianos really sort of ask you to arpeggiate, I've heard composers refer to broken chords as 'pianistic'.
This is weird to me. Of all the instrument, pianos are the one that DON'T demand broken chords (because you can play the entire chord simultaneously, and can also play more complex, leaping figurations relatively easily), whereas guitars, cellos, etc demand arpeggios - so I think of arpeggios as very non-pianistic (though of course they do occur in piano music).

Anyway, my focus wasn't so much on the arpeggio pe se, vs block chords, but rather on the importance of the arpeggio (or other broken chord) vs the melody: the emphasis is on a gradually-changing harmonic sound, with the melody, if there is one, being much less the focus.

I've also noticed more use of the 'layered' effect that modern music of the late 20th century loved so much, in more atmosphere-building parts of the score: slowly developing sounds at different pitch levels without much obvious connection to one another.
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Re: Combat scenes and Misunderstood

Post by Torco »

fair enough on the point, yeah, it does seem as if latin america sort of really went crazy for nylon strings, whereas north america kept both. steel strings aren't even all that rare these days here, they're just mostly used on electroacoustics and electrics, since pickups need them.

while you *can* play block chords on a piano, and you often do, arpeggiating them is a very easy way to make a thing sound cooler, especially for a beggining pianist that doesn't have that many resources: your hand is already in the position: it's also a way to make the chord sustain more, since you don't really get control of the duration of a block chord, it'll just ring out until you make the dampers go down on it, but very likely it'll die down before that. furthermore, when you're using a piano to feed a vst, some sound libraries just don't sound good when you press on multiple keys at the same time.
I've also noticed more use of the 'layered' effect that modern music of the late 20th century loved so much, in more atmosphere-building parts of the score: slowly developing sounds at different pitch levels without much obvious connection to one another.
that's also at least made easier by libraries: you look at the piece and go "ah, but why not add just one more track. clarinet, yes, in that bit of the second bridge. boom, done.
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