the pernicious and silly term "influence"

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--Mark S on the New York Dolls thread.

Influence: red herring or crucial concept?

John Darnielle, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

History of literature sez totally crucial, key to the whole city. History itself, jury's out & will probably remain so. Cultural historians say influence is everywhere, classicists refer to "the anxiety of influence"=the difficulty of making something new, the anxiety itself a great motivator for creativity. Modern culture favors a blender model. Cards on table: I think influence is an important concept & that Joy Division or the New York Dolls would be nowhere near as good as they are if they hadn't influenced leagues of bands: part of what makes JD sound so great is how fertile the idea/s contained within them seem, how they excite the creative urge etc

John Darnielle, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

ok cards on the table: WHAT THE FUCK DOES IT ACTUALLY FUCKING MEAN? (if anything ,which i doubt)

(john i am emailing you the 400 million words the 12 lizards branes trust so far devoted to these topics off-board)

mark s, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

12-foot lizards i mean: there are of course more than 12 of us (or ARE there? heh)

mark s, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

A lot of what pisses me of about the term "influence" is that the discourse that surrounds it -- not just the aesthetic stuff but talk about morals as well -- seems to take it as a given that individuals are merely these passive and unthinking receptacles of "influences," both good and bad.

Michael Daddino, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Influence: merely the kind way of saying 'beat biting.' But some say this is too limiting a description.

Ned Raggett, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I seem to remember us scientifically concluding that "influences" are dinner guests. i.e. You choose them carefully but you sometimes are powerless to determine the mix; they change the whole tenor of the evening; sometimes you want to kick them out. So: crucial concept only in that it hides a host of interesting topics?

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I think it would be more interesting to think of great artists who seem to have near-zero influence. Other than some Charlie Haden stuff, no-one's really been able to do Ornette properly and few seem to even try, even though allegedly his innovations are mostly structural and procedural (obviously I don't buy this). That's the thing, influence can exist in very intangible ways. I think one of the Stone Temple Pilots claimed to be influenced by Nat King Cole. In interviews, mostly the question is asked simply to get someone famous to satisfy the record-geek curiosities of the "music journalist". As far as manipulating the concept of influence to say the New York Dolls are better than Venom because they "influenced" more people, first of all I don't even think the statement is true (they probably influenced more people in New York who write about music, but I think there are zillions more bands extant that owe something to Venom than to the New York Dolls and quite a bit of overlap (Turbonegro) as well. The Hellacopters have covered Venom ("Angel Dust") but generally sound more like the New York Dolls!) In many cases, "influence" may just be the invention of an easy to follow template for success. What's so great about that? Papa Smurf is probably easier to paint by numbers than is Mona Lisa, but that isn't THE reason why Peyo is a better artist than Da Vinci, or even one of them.

Kris, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Tracer: not "hides" -- holds. Agree that many critics who say "influential" actually mean "I like it best 'cos it was the oldest" and that's boring. But looking at how (to use what is for me one of the most interesting figures in influence: what went in, what came out) Joy Division took their love of Hawkwind and their punk rock desire not to come off all stoner-star Hawkwindy and produced "Unknown Pleasures," and then tracing that line into New Order's "Your Silent Face," about the least Hawkwind-like song of all time -- finding the ghosts -- to me that's fun stuff.

John Darnielle, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Mark: "But, Ludwig, WHAT THE FUCK DOES IT ACTUALLY FUCKING MEAN?"

Herr Wittgenstein: "Ahh, wrong kvestion, Herr Sinkah. Vee must ask, HOW IS ZIS WORD USED IN OUR LANGVAGE?"

(I agree with Herr Wittgenstein here.)

Clarke B., Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Damn we ghostbustin up in this bitch! You can't be Egon though John because I've already got dibs.

Here's my favorite type of uncalled-for paranormal sleuthing: when you hear something and you're like "that sounds exactly like..." and then you realize the thing you thought was influencing the song you're listening to was in fact recorded 15 years later. So in that case it's not really an "influence" but more like a line that's waiting for a tracer heh.

I don't know. Half the time I think Budweiser influenced my favorite bands just as much as any Link Wray reel-to-reel did but what am I gonna do sit around talking about beer cans? hrm, actually....

Tracing Lines, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

yawnsome "drink too much" joke would have actually made sense if I'd written "what am I gonna do, stare at a beer can and look for the meaning of life?" but oh well it's over isn't it

Tracer Hand, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

"I seem to remember us scientifically concluding that "influences" are dinner guests."

This also introduces the necessary element of chance. Eg. you invite this really cool woman you work with to the party but her husband ends up dominating the event (translates as: bands who say they take their cues from X but really miss what was good about X and instead sound like all the baggage * surrounding* X)

Tim, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Ha! Totally. In either case you as host/band/whatever are doing your thing for them... like all your "influences" are who you're performing for. Which would include other bands you've heard but also your mom and, I don't know, fictional characters in books, like everything in your life who's worth impressing.

Tracer hand, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

"HOW IS ZIS WORD USED IN OUR LANGVAGE?"

Badly.

Alex in SF, Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Usually the only time bands really talk about their influences is when they're being interviewed, and the canonical interview "script" tends to shape the answers. An interviewer asks band something like (a) "Were you influenced by X?" or (b) "Who are your influences?" Band feels dishonest or guilty if X is a band/artist they respect and/or listen to a lot but they say "no" to (a) (like they're not giving props or something). Band feels (justifiably) that they will come off extremely smug and self-loving if they answer "nobody, man" to (b). Readers and critics look at the band's answers and constitute influence (s'cuse me, Influence) as TANGIBLE AND REAL CAUSAL FORCE IN THE EVOLUTION OF ROCK. "Influence" isn't a bad word, and I don't think it should be banned; we just need to understand more clearly what's going on when the word gets used and not be so quick to over-read it.

Clarke B., Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

To clarify, that should be "if the band says "no" to (a), they will feel dishonest or guilty..."

Clarke B., Sunday, 5 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

"all your "influences" are who you're performing for. Which would include other bands you've heard but also your mom and, I don't know, fictional characters in books, like everything in your life who's worth impressing."

Yeah. If I was a musician (watch out, world!) i'd have to say my first and foremost influence would be all of y'all on ILM, obv.

Tim, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

yeah that dinnerguest thing was cool, i am going to hunt for it

mark s, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Mark's attempts to destroy the idea that one can be influenced has influenced me to change my views. That said: influences often subconscious and (seemingly!) unrelated to records musician puts out hence why should we/musician know?

nathalie, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I don't think the question is whether or not influence exists in music, literature (I'm lost where history of lit is based around influence--we never discussed "influence" in any of my many classes) or ILx posting strategies. The question is how does one define and identify influence, who gets to identify influence and why is it even necessary to do so? As far as I can tell influence is one of those terms bandied about solely for the purposes of critical oneupsmanship (oh, well of course you've heard X, Y obv borrow a lot of their sound from them and X do it a lot better) and to add much needed credibility to critical debates (can't you hear X in Y--and we both agree X is <>). Since whether or not similarities in sound exist or for that matter constitute an actual inherited musical lineage of some sort is a largely subjective and ultimately unproveable task and since I can't think of two more useless discussions than the aformentioned two why can't we just let "influence" die a good death and move the fuck on to other useless parts of our common critical vocabulary like "appreciation" and "fassy."

Alex in SF, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I suppose this is an appropriate thread to ask what "fassy" or rather "FASSY" means. I'm hoping it's a cross between "FAGGY" and "SASSY," and if it is, I'm all for it.

Michael Daddino, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

One use of "influence" we're debating usually shows up in descriptions in the similarities of sound between two artists BUT they can, more rarely, can play the same role in describing similarities of technique i.e. "using the studio as an instrument" or Eno's Oblique Strategies.

Michael Daddino, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

One area has been neglected in every thread devoted to this topic - the phenomenon by which somebody calculatedly, intentionally and thoroughly plagiarises something else. Sometimes so blatantly that they fully expect to be caught. Like, note-for-note. (Not saying I know for certain people do this, I just heard about it somewhere from a friend of a friend etc. Heh.)

dave q, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I don't think the question is whether or not influence exists in music, literature (I'm lost where history of lit is based around influence--we never discussed "influence" in any of my many classes) or ILx posting strategies. The question is how does one define and identify influence, who gets to identify influence and why is it even necessary to do so? As far as I can tell influence is one of those terms bandied about solely for the purposes of critical oneupsmanship (oh, well of course you've heard X, Y obv borrow a lot of their sound from them and X do it a lot better) and to add much needed credibility to critical debates (can't you hear X in Y--and we both agree X is <>). Since whether or not similarities in sound exist or for that matter constitute an actual inherited musical lineage of some sort is a largely subjective and ultimately unproveable task and since I can't think of two more useless discussions than the aformentioned two why can't we just let "influence" die a good death and move the fuck on to other useless parts of our common critical vocabulary like "appreciation" and "fassy." But Alex all our discussions of music are entirely subjective and unproveable. I can barely imagine a discussion board that revolved around strictly objective discussions of music, though it does amuse me to do so ("Are we in agreement, then, that there's quite a bit of synthesizer on most Flock of Seagulls records?"). I think discussion of influence is pleasant & diverting -- look at Morrissey, whose persona is a fascinating admixture of all the persons (musical and otherwise) that he fetishises, and then discuss the disparity between his overt/claimed influences (the NY Dolls are the one he used to cite most often) and the ones you actually hear (The Ink Spots). I don't think such a discussion is a look-I've-seen-something-you-haven't-seen type of discussion, or at least it isn't of necessity; I think it's a useful way of describing music & how it works on the listener. And that there are countless other ways one can go when talking about influence, too - kinda puzzled by how you could think it was a totally fassy topic.

I think now's the time that somebody brings up bootlegs in this discussion, but I'm not the man to do it.

John Darnielle, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Q is on the right track. That is:

I find myself in some agreement with Mark S's deliberately perverse and counter-intuitive (and thus characteristic) rejection of Influence. Why? (I am trying to outline Mark S's reasons here, by way of mine.)

1/ It's a cliche - it makes thought too easy, stops us thinking what we mean, etc - OK.

2/ More specifically, it's too passive: as though creativity etc is done by people who are vessels for something else. ie: influence removes, or diminishes agency. Sometimes that's a good thing to do, but I think Mark S suspects that we need a more dynamic (+ agential?) model of cultural connection.

More:

A/ Cultural instances echo one another. Some of this is very deliberate - some of it may be accidental. Maybe that matters, maybe not.

B/ Men and women make culture, but not in conditions of their own choosing. Could the second half of that sentence summarize why we *can't* just get rid of Influence-talk?

C/ Culture can be a matter of picking things up and transforming them, and hence trying to rewrite tradition. 'Influence' is the wrong word for that (unless understood in reverse).

D/ David Q makes records that sound to me, at different (and same) points, like David Byrne, Kurt Cobain, Elvis Costello and Mike Flowers. Presumably 'Influence' is the wrong word for *that*.

E/ Search and Destroy: THE CANTOS

the pinefox, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

John, I agree that all critical questions are entirely subjective. One of the many problems with influence is the exact ways in which all arguments involving tend to undercut and limit critical discussion. Once the argument begins to rotate around influence all the interesting questions are discarded and debate revolves almost wholely around whether or not X really exists in Y, could or did Y know about X and even vaguer questions. I believe influence exists, ideas from an X can be inherited by a Y, but I think that the way in which these threads are traced (the Morrissey thing as "influence" doesn't fascinate me at all by the way) is largely uninteresting. Comparing and contrasting what you think is fascinating about Morrissey read through differences and similarities to the New York Dolls and Ink Spots sounds wonderful, why drag the term "influence" into the discussion? It seems superfluous to me. The debate can be had without the supposed "influence" and all its inclusion does is add a layer of argument (well is there "really" influence here, etc) that obscures from the really fascinating discussion of diff/like of subjects of discussion. I think question of influence is largely an obscurist argument, it ends up closing off whatever the real subject of debate is (or perhaps should be is the better answer). Which makes it just the same to me as words like "appreciation" anyway (I have no idea what fassy means so I'll excuse it's inclusion as a joke). I forgot the emoticon though. ;-)

Alex in SF, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Realized something amusing as I was bussing home. My argument is very similar to the Literature model where artist himself is largely unimportant, that art stands alone and therefore questions are artist's motivations, supposed influences, intentions, blah blah blah are all ignored in favor of user/reader/listener/viewer's interaction with art itself. Interesting that John's view of lit criticism is exact opposite where influence and intention apparently rank highly in interpretation and discussion of art. Is this another critic vs. artist question, where those who prize the importance of the artist's presence in the work are pitted against those who place importance on the user/critic of the art?

Alex in SF, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Alex: I do not in any way believe that authorial intention matters. At all. Influence/intention: not related. In fact the influence people in Lit Crit are the very people who debunked authorial intention in the first place. An influenced artist isn't one who's sitting there at his Rhodes goin' "And now I shall add a little Geezer Butler to the mix." No. Influence is like tracing genetic lines: an artist does what he does, and one of the listener's many potential pleasures is the hearing of the multiple strands that recombined within a given artist.

But no no no authorial intention no. Artists are the last people to ask about what influenced them, all they want to talk about is what they wish they sounded like, which is another matter entirely.

John Darnielle, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

My argument is very similar to the Literature model where artist himself is largely unimportant, that art stands alone and therefore questions are artist's motivations, supposed influences, intentions, blah blah blah are all ignored in favor of user/reader/listener/viewer's interaction with art itself.

Is this stance compatible with a music (popular music in all its guises, I mean) so focused on the star, the celebrity and the personality? Well, I don't want to say it's incompatible -- we've all got the freedom to approach music however the fuck we want, thank you. Maybe what I want to ask is that when not just music but musicians as well are a commodity, do issues concerning motivations, influences and intentions get necessarily get pushed to the forefront?

Michael Daddino, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

So influence is useful if and only as analysis of art as simply similarity or disimilarity in sound, attitude, etc. . . Okay so why is this like/diff called influence then? Where is it implied that the threads in band Y were actually inherited from band X? Can these strands not be random chance? Two artists even years apart discovering the same sound? There is a bit on the third Os Mutantes from 1970 record that sounds exactly like the beginning of Neu song on their second record from 1973. Was/is this influence? Could Neu have heard this record? Maybe. Does knowing or not knowing if Neu did or not matter to me? No, because to me what Neu heard or didn't hear is unimportant all that matters is that hearing these little similarities on two albums recorded continents apart is fascinating. It's just a bizarre and unreal likeness. The very concept of influence though, whether conscious or unconscious, is automatically an artist focused and an artist intensive affair. It must matter what the artist said or knew or thought. That's the ONLY way influence as influence works. Note that both the examples used Joy Division/Hawkwind and Morrissey/NY Dolls/Ink Spots, what the supposed "influenced" artist had to say was almost as important as and in fact was being used to "read" the work in question.

I love hearing strands and sounds and bits of stuff recombined and replicated from song to song. Calling those influence though seems a huge stretch and takes criticism into a realm I find very suspect and largely uninteresting, precisely because it is so artist rather than art based.

Alex in SF, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Another day, between walls of a sham Mycenian,
"Toc" sphinxes, sham-Memphis columns,
And beneath the jazz a cortex, a stiffness or stillness,
Shell of the older house,
Brown-yellow wood, and the no colour plaster,
Dry professional talk…
now stilling the ill beat music,
House expulsed by this house.

Ezra Pound invents hiphop (Canto VII, 1930)

mark s, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Well - we have massively different ideas of "influence," that's clear. I don't think talking about it is artist-based but text-based: where text=the body of work by the artist in question. One can go facile (i.e. Anorexic Dread or Turkey Bones and the Wild Dogs=Birthday Party knock-offs) or complex (The Sisters of Mercy used to cover songs by Hot Chocolate and Bob Dylan: how do these disparate influences inform their work?) but I don't think that artists work in a vacuum -- I'm with Bloom insofar as I don't think working without influence is even possible, or else every band would sound massively different from each other. Your position, unless I'm reading it wrong, is "analyze/discuss a work strictly on its own merits," but for me it's more interesting to look at what seems to me a bigger and richer picture. N.B. I still say this isn't artist-based. It's all looking at what goes on within, stop me before I put it this way o no it's too late, The Text.

John Darnielle, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

why is "sounds like" the same as "influenced by"? Sugababes are "influenced" by Gary Numan? How? What is his influence? They sound like him because they sampled one of hius songs. Joy Division "sound like" Pere Ubu because they decided to play somewhat in the Ubu style (= learnt to play by playing Ubu songs possibly). But JD made what choice, not PU. Ubu have NO CONTROL over JD = they have no influence. "Influence" is a magical big-me-up gobbledygook invoked in interviews and press releases (and nowhere else of consequence), then repeated as a substitute for history and critical intelligence.

mark s, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

why is "sounds like" the same as "influenced by"?Because the thing in question couldn't have been what it is without the influence. Again I think we mean entirely different things here. How is it possible to say that a piece isn't influenced by songs which actually make up its constituent parts (the Sugababes example you cite)? To me that's like saying that the choice of the piano in no way influences the way Chopin writes. I foresee this thread getting really confrontational real soon though so I'm getting the hell out, because I am a base coward.

John Darnielle, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

...right after I say that "influence" does not equal "control" in any way. My beliefs inluence my actions, yet my beliefs are not themselves sentient, have no ability to form their own thoughts, etc. Authors of every stripe are influenced by things which do not exert an active influence -- i.e., to say "Pere Ubu is influential in re" [insert band of choice] says nothing about Pere Ubu but says something about choices made by the influenced artist. The active participant in a relationship of influence is the one who's being influenced: in Greek they have a separate voice for this (the middle), in English we only got active and passive.

John Darnielle, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Influence: afaik, always present for musicians, and constantly affecting the music. Influence doesn't have to be just other music, as I'm sure Haight-Ashbury and LSD had its way with the Grateful Dead. Of course, artists are creative, and also afaik, want to be "unique" in some way, but you can't hide from your influences just like you can't hide from your childhood.

However, from a listener's point of view, it would be difficult to really pinpoint an influence unless the artist just came out and said, "this song was influenced by Band X." I don't think that because one song sounds like another that came before necessarily means it was influenced by the first one. You can do a bunch of historical legwork, and infer from your research that Badfinger was influenced by the Beatles because McCartney produced them, and they recorded for Apple, and they basically sounded just like them circa '65. But maybe it was coincidence. Or maybe the Beatles were so big, that even if Badfinger had never heard them, they would sound like them due to industry trends in pop production and so forth.

You'd have to be able to get into the artist's head to confirm all their influences, which is probably why some listeners have no interest in it. Personally, I'm always curious.

dleone, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

hmmm i quite like john's final defensive refinement before he fled: viz pere ubu/gary numan = the belief, joy division/sugababe = the action

yes yes of course the problem is that several rival meanings for the word are being used here, and attached to them radically difft deep assumptions => i still don't believe that we couldn't just do without it (eg that we can find a different — routinely used — word to replace it in ALL contexts, and that the ambiguity lost has no useful function)

INTERVIEWER: Who are your influences?
BAND SPOKESMAN: Your question is meaningless, lackey!!
I: OK oh grate one, what are your beliefs?
BS: Killing Joke and Karen Carpenter. AND THAT'S IT!!

This is a major improvement.

mark s, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

I find it hard to believe that you can choose your influences, thanks to yr trusty subconscious, which collects every piece of information that you see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, and keeps it hidden inside you. Seems like realistically you're influenced by everything you come into contact with. If I write a song, I can say it's influenced by Captain Beefheart, but if unknown to myself, I completely ripped off the melody of Paul Simon's "Cars," which my mom played once on the record player when I was six years old, seems like that's a valid influence too. Stating your influences seems ridiculous, self-insulting, and facile.

pirateking, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

(ps i wasn't being sarcastic abt the improvement: even the less wonky "who do you believe in?" is a bettah question...)

mark s, Monday, 6 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Mark S.....stop inserting the name KILLING JOKE into threads in a desperate attempt to summon me just so I can say "honour the Fire!" It won't work.

Honour the Fire!

Alex in NYC, Tuesday, 7 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Original definition of "influence" (circa 14th century) derived from Latin "fluere" (to flow): "an ethereal fluid held to flow from the stars and to affect the actions of humans" (Webster's). Updating this to modern music criticism, we have "an ethereal fluid held to flow from records known only to music nerds and fogeys and to affect the music of contemporary bands that naive youngsters go ga-ga over, whom the nerds can then feel effortlessly superior to by virtue of their arcane knowledge of these hidden wellsprings".

Perhaps that's too easy, but in certain cases, perhaps, also not wide of the mark? One problem I have with the use of the term "influence" is that it has the active work being done by the wrong party. Surely, the one "being influenced" is doing the active work, not the thing (ie., record) that is putatively doing the "influencing". Rather than say, "Band X was influenced by classic album Y", why not say, "Band X sensitively and perceptively extracted certain aspects of classic album Y and then combined them in new and exciting ways with other extracts, original ideas, etc., to form new album Z". Records by themselves can't "influence" anybody or doing anything else for that matter - they just sit there on the shelf until someone takes them down and *listens* to them (listening being another active behavior frequently mistaken for passivity).

o. nate, Tuesday, 7 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Clarke B writes:

"Usually the only time bands really talk about their influences is when they're being interviewed."

Usually the only time bands really talk is when they're being interviewed.

http://gygax.pitas.com, Tuesday, 7 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

Does a band really exist when not being interviewed?

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 7 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

THe only reason the term 'influence' exists is it saves bands from saying "We set out to copy X"

Also, I think process is being totally ignored here. You know, drummers switching to double-kick sets because Neil Peart had one (which alters the sound significantly, as do those seven-string guitars people get so they can sound like Korn or the Melvins), guitarists who slice the ends of their fingertips off in factories so they can sound like Tony Iommi, the works. (Later gave up gtr in despair after accident, but was 'INSPIRED' by example of Reinhardt to create Sab - this could be a test case on influence v. inspiration v. situational parameters v. [whatever one proposes counterbalances/nullifies respective same], since everyone's quite familiar with how much Sab sounds like Reinhardt - as well as the number of bands other people claim to be 'influenced by Sab' [Melvins again, who sound NOTHING like them at all, but the 'influence' virus takes funny turns in people's bloodstream and you see things like 'Seattle is as isolated and damp and boring as the Midlands therefore the Melvins are going to be something like Sab etc])

dave q, Wednesday, 8 May 2002 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link

two years pass...
I thought q meant Reinhardt from Berlin Alexanderplatz and frankly I prefer to continue so believing

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Friday, 14 May 2004 02:34 (fifteen years ago) link

This is one of the best influence threads on ILM i think.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Friday, 14 May 2004 03:18 (fifteen years ago) link

And the most influential...

Jon Gotti, Friday, 14 May 2004 03:21 (fifteen years ago) link

It's a great thread - Wittgenstein, Ezra Pound, Literary Criticism, Killing Joke...Very highbrow

I was broadly in agreement with Alex with respect to abandoning the idea of an 'artist based' concept of music, but wonder if he can elaborate on this bit (hopefully the Killing Joke mention will summon him)

"I love hearing strands and sounds and bits of stuff recombined and replicated from song to song"

What are the nature of the 'strands' that you like to hear, and how can a musical 'movement' be described without resorting to influence? (It's not that I think theres a problem, I'm just not very bright)

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Friday, 14 May 2004 03:45 (fifteen years ago) link

I'm often surprised that people aren't as comfortable with applying the concept of intertextuality to music as they are with applying it to lit.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Friday, 14 May 2004 03:55 (fifteen years ago) link

yeah, but I spent university being MADE to apply it to literature, so I'm kind of wary of applying it to music...

Kevin Gilchrist (Mr Fusion), Friday, 14 May 2004 04:13 (fifteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
O. Nate referred me to this thread. If anyone wants to take it up, I would venture to say that musicology is not considered in statements like Alex's "all critical questions are entirely subjective" (sorry to dredge up ghosts, Alex--just looking for an example).

I think influence can be shown musicologically. This rhythm comes from here, this chord progression comes from here, etc.

Tim Ellison, Wednesday, 2 June 2004 01:22 (fifteen years ago) link

three years pass...

lots of musicians have made music under the influence

latebloomer, Wednesday, 29 August 2007 11:37 (twelve years ago) link

Old ILX: not just a bunch of people going "num num num" and talking about the Manics

Dom Passantino, Wednesday, 29 August 2007 11:43 (twelve years ago) link

"Influence" as a term of musical psychology, is indeed useless. However, "influence" as a term of musical history, is one of the tools by which the musical historian gives meaning to an otherwise unrelated series of notes.

libcrypt, Wednesday, 29 August 2007 15:02 (twelve years ago) link

nine years pass...

the musical historian should choose a less silly word

mark s, Monday, 31 October 2016 23:23 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

ugh i am embarked on a project which is requiring me to plough through 20 million extracts all using this stupid word at its worst and laziest, it is such a fucking tell

mark s, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 14:42 (one week ago) link

like they used to say nanotechnology would turn everything into featureless grey goo

mark s, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 14:43 (one week ago) link

not only is influence a good word but we should replace the word art with the word effluence

difficult listening hour, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 14:52 (one week ago) link

I was actually thinking about this subject this morning. As someone who writes songs, the influences I think of as most significant have more to do with methods of working. There was an appeal for me in how some people went about creating a body of work. Influences directly affecting musical materials seem to be hazier, more general, more subconscious.

timellison, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 15:07 (one week ago) link

A prosaic interpretation of the word might be: band A liked band B, tried to write something a bit like them, then probably came up with something interesting in a different way, or if they didn't we wouldn't be talking about band A.

Dr X O'Skeleton, Wednesday, 9 October 2019 15:44 (one week ago) link


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