Val is a life-long practically oriented student of effective emotional and attitudinal responses to the many challenges of life.
Just scream! You vent, and the body just feels good after a good old yell.
-- Carol Burnett
Any Yardsticks Left for Artful Expression?
My being an old-timer should not affect the validity of my arguments targeting that screaming type of the modern pop music. To be clear about where I am coming from with that, I believe that there should be some standards in evaluation of what is to be considered as art -- and what is not.
The existence of music critics would suggest that there really are such "objective" criteria that are not solely based on tastes.
Now, before I get to the announced arguments, I'd like to prepare the terrain for them by saying a few words about painting art, from which it will be possible to draw a qualitative parallel to music. Namely, I'd like to address that, common to both -- "anything goes" rule -- the one that's perverting the very definition of artistic expression.
Allegedly, Pablo Picasso, that much celebrated father of the movement in visual art called "cubism" (remember "scrambled pictures"), once admitted how he came up with that style with the only motivation to mock the snobbish Parisienne public. Then also, an anecdote -- true or false -- cites him as saying how he never worried about his paintings being stolen from his basement, because "without his signature on them they were worthless".
That could actually be true when we consider a certain test that was allegedly done involving graduates of art academy, in which they were asked to pick from a line of paintings the less known artworks of famous painters, being mixed with amateur's works -- all signatures being hidden.
As many of you have guessed, those, "now knowledgeable" art graduates picked almost all amateurs' artworks. Should we go any further about what really passes as art, if the only rule is -- anything goes?
Heavy metal is the most conservative of all loud music. Let's face it, not even a gym teacher could get so many people to dress alike.
-- Jello Biafra
Is There Anything to "Know" about Art?
To prolong this beating around the bush for yet another moment, somewhat similar situation we are facing in the world of fashion. Sometimes I may be caught watching at least a part of TV fashion show -- but with the only motivation to have a good laugh.
No matter what sophisticated lingo they may use for praising that "art", so much of it simply looks grotesque, if not downright silly, somewhat insulting the looks of those models wearing it. I just can't help remembering Picasso's remark about the snobbishness of the Parisian public -- wondering if the fashion creators secretly ganged up to mock the taste of the fashion public.
The terminology of fashion, as well as that of fine art, is so cosmetically artificial and abstract that a critic or a creator could easily talk about it for an hour without really saying anything of a substance.
It's like just about anything may become "art", as long as it fits into that fancy terminology -- which succeeds to make a garment look like a "last scream of fashion", while it could easily pass for a Halloween costume.
Now, without claiming to be a psychic or something, it's like I can almost hear all those proponents of such art say: "You can keep your old-timer's taste, but don't criticize something that you know nothing about".
Hey, would they be talking about that "knowledge" of those art academy graduates?
I try to incorporate a melody. Even though I am screaming, I still like to think I bring melody into screaming.
-- Tom Araya
"Anything Goes" Criterion
I wonder who was that first "musical Picasso" who came up with this brilliant idea of screaming in notes. Well, my guess is that the style was born out of the so called sexual revolution, when even some priests got carried away with their enthusiasm of new freedoms while having fun with underaged believers.
If they could take those freedoms so literally, why be surprised at the crowd of sinners with a beer in one hand and a joint in another -- the new followers of the culture of musical screamers.
The rule of "anything goes" even sounds like an understatement when it's about the "rap" music, which really sounds like a chanting around the fire in rain forest, spiced with an assorted mantras of profanities.
Yay, long live freedom, down with art!
Along with nudist beaches, those mentioned horny clerics, and porno industry -- came this musical liberation with vocal crescendos and electric instruments to give the noise an illusion of a musical performance.
Quite possibly a musical version of the Primal Scream Therapy, discharging emotional pain, anger, frustration, and probably a good dose of rebellion against the authorities. Unfortunately, also against any musical finesse.
Just the other day I was at a shopping mall, and wrapped up in a deafening instrumental chaos was the screaming female vocalist exhibiting sounds of labor pains from giving birth to twins -- both trying to come out at the same time.
Oh yes, I like it. Screaming like never before. Baby, I like it. I, I, I like it.
-- Enrique Iglesias
Liking It Is Enough
By the way, have you been at any wedding receptions lately? If you can remember, were you able to hear the person sitting next to you at the table -- or even yourself, for that matter? As for myself, I was not very successful trying to make some sense out of that assault on my eardrums.
Well, I only have sixty percent of hearing left anyway -- a gift from all that shooting and exploding things during my army service -- so another explosion or two from musical instruments shouldn't bother me much.
And it didn't. I was just curious, so I asked a group of youngsters outside the hall what that noise was doing for them, other than reducing their hearing capacity. The look they gave me was worth a thousand words, with all being of a mocking kind.
But they were polite enough to merely say: "You are an old-timer, you don't understand". They said it with an air of a quantum physicist who was telling me to stop trying to understand why an electron can be at two locations at the same time.
Well, I didn't give up. I wanted to piss them a little, to make them defend their taste. So I told them that to me it sounded insane. I also asked them what was making their generation so angry, so that they resorted to a socially acceptable form of screaming at public places.
They just sheepishly smiled, shrugged, and as if unable to say anything more original, they repeated: "You are too old to understand". But, strangely, at that moment I started to understand -- they didn't know what they liked about it, and liking it was enough.
I think all the boys who write the screaming stuff would write the best love songs...because they have the most to hide. The boys that are in the most pain are usually the ones with the biggest hearts.
-- Tom Amos
Well, Dean, Let Them Have It Their Way
I don't know why that music reminds me so much of nudist beaches, where all kinds of unattractive human specimens show up to parade around with their genitals. Now, to make the record straight, I have never been to one, and it's only what my dark imagination made of those stories from those who were either brave or curious enough to explore that aspect of human craziness.
Those are the kind of raw images I get while hearing that crude discharge of sexually loaded musical exhibitionism. If Freud was still around, he might expand on his theorizing about "everything in art carrying a charge of sexuality".
As for me, other than simply disliking it, I wouldn't pin that much significance on it. Actually, at a risk of being accused of changing my tune, maybe those youngsters were right when they could not put a finger on what exactly they liked about their music.
Maybe it's not even meant to be "art", but a symptom of a drifting collective spirit outgrowing the old, while the new is not clear yet. With no intention to sound overly philosophical -- for quite awhile mankind has been going through a major crisis, and crises are marked with one or another form of chaos.
Dogmatic paradigm is reluctant to leave and allow for something more life-promoting, and more dignifying for human race -- which causes all kinds of upheavals, evidently being expressed in music as well. Should we borrow the expression depicting teenage years, and call it something like "crazy hormones of mankind's slow maturing"?
So, even though at its face value it's hardly more than screaming in notes, let's live long enough to witness that next step in consciousness evolution, whenever it shows mercy to appear on our cultural horizon.
Well, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, and all other crooners, you had to let one screaming Little Richard coexist in your era of melodious music with its tunes that could be whistled while driving.
So all of you old-timers out there, once again, join me at letting the young ones do their musical screaming.
For those who are not quite sure what I mean by "screaming music" -- watch the video
Please Take My Poll
© 2020 Val Karas
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 21, 2020:
Thank you Val for saying you enjoy my comments.
As I said before...I have never been to a nudist camp or beach.
I just assumed how it would be. I guess I am a dreamer.
Always looking for the positive approach when I can.
As for the music...Sorry, but I cannot see anything positive about screaming out words.
Have a great day and enjoy life.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on November 21, 2020:
Ivana -- It was a pure pleasure hearing from you with your wise interpretation of the topic of the hub. Additionally, the pleasure came from your words of praise, which every writer likes to hear.
I do agree about the cathartic effect of screaming music, although it's only a momentary fix for something that might require a therapy. Namely, accumulated negative emotions seeking so much of an outlet raise the question of their source which would have to be addressed -- regardless of all venting that may come handy in coping with them.
And then, of course, we come to the matter of tastes, and as that Latin saying goes: "De gustibus non disputabant est" -- or, tastes are not to be discussed. As for me, give me a Chopin's nocturne or anything in that category, and my meditative nature will purr like a cat by a fireplace.
Thank you, Ivana, for your comment, and I'll be reading your stuff -- not to "return the favor", but because I am sensing something deep about you which makes me curious. -- Be well my young friend.
Val Karas (author) from Canada on November 21, 2020:
Brenda -- Thanks for your interesting comment. As for the nudist camps I have a little different opinion. There is a subtle part of our nature which insists on keeping our nudity out of the public, regardless of how we are intimately accepting our bodies. We might say it's out of taste. In a certain European country it's "normal" to fart at the table after dinner -- and those people could also be said to be "comfortable about their bodies". While I don't agree with much of Freud's theorizing about sex, I would say that nudist camps have a lot to do with expression of sexual energy. Just like it's socially acceptable for performers of heavy metal to display those orgasmic facial expressions. Time and place for everything, I would say. Every revolution went too far, and so did sexual revolution.
Well, I certainly respect your views, my friend, they are simply different from mine. I always enjoy your comments.. Be well.
BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on November 21, 2020:
It is nice to see you.
I had to smile at this one.
I cannot even fathom to call it music. It's like they are just messed up on drugs and trying to find an outlet.
The words...no one can understand. If I had even talked like that when I was a youngin I'd be getting that old belt strap, so to speak.
I do get that each generation has a different taste in music...but let's make it music.
I am hoping it is about time to come full circle and bring the good old music back with this next generation.
Not sure why you think about nudist camps the way you do.
Although I have not been to one, I always picture the nudist beaches quite different.
I'd like to think they are mature individuals who keep to themselves.
They are just comfortable enough with their bodies to not worry about what others may think.
Kind of like a free bird just enjoying nature. Relaxing in the slight breeze blowing across their bodies.
Not trouble makers or playing loud indescribable music.
I did get a chuckle out of reading this one. I hope the kids stop screaming...my ears cannot handle it. I wear earplugs just so I do not hear snoring.
Take care and stay safe.
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on November 21, 2020:
Well, I have to agree with again, Val. When my kids were teenagers the screaming music was favoured by them also, but mostly they grew out of it. Now my eldest son prefers more mellow stuff from the 70s and 80s. The others a little more recent but regular rock, pop etc.
there must be something they get out of it at a certain stage of their life but usually it isn’t permanent...thank God. Art...lol...NO!
Ivana Divac from Serbia on November 21, 2020:
This is a really interesting article, and I enjoyed every word you wrote. It's refreshing to read something so honest, and I admire the bravery.
I'd say "art is in the eye of the beholder", or ear, in this case. I came to understand that those screaming notes are a great valve for discharging negative energy and suppressed anger, sometimes even grief. Personally, I prefer (or tolerate) to hear only the screaming notes that are used with deeper intentions, as a part of one meaningful whole. When the singers use it as a contrast between darker and lighter parts of one being, or to enhance the eternal struggle between good and evil, in which case the lyrics and the melody will support the idea, I find the screaming notes have quite the inspiring effect. Like yourself, listening to songs that have ONLY screaming notes within themselves is really not my cup of tea, because I find it hard to focus on deeper meanings or the lyrics, but I guess some people find it quite enjoyable. To each their own, I guess again.
In conclusion, this is a high-quality and well-written article. I wouldn't mind reading more of your honest opinions, that's for sure.