Thursday, January 10, 2008

Boy, am I struggling...

Talk about staring at a piece of paper/screen/book. I'm trying to finish up this proposal (as I have been since we returned from Christmas break) and I just can't crack it. Maybe I need to do a bit of research, but I know what I want to do - I just can't seem to put it down on paper.

So, like I so often do (at the expense of you, my dear reader), I will try to flesh out my thoughts on this very blog.

By the way, right now I'm listening to Scott Walker. This probably doesn't help. He's a bit dark.

My whole idea focuses on Roland Barthes and his point that there is a kind of artistic expression that somehow externalizes "discourse." I'm not exactly sure what he's saying here, but I don't have to know right now. What he does say is that, in this externalization, there exists "bliss." Again, the exact meaning of his terms doesn't matter so much. He is talking about pleasure and desire - this is clear. So, there is a certain pleasure that comes from this exteriorization of discourse, and he calls this exteriorization of discourse "writing aloud," and he suggests that it finds its best representation in singing.

Except, for Barthes, melody is dead.

So, instead, he looks to cinema. But let's back up for a second. Who says that melody is dead? I don't. Our friend Leslie Feist is certainly melodic, and, compared to our other friend Steven Patrick Morrissey, overly melodic (active? masculine? different paper?).

I would like to explore Feist's ├╝ber-hit "1234" and that melody for this "writing aloud" in order to get to the root of that elusive "bliss." We can also assume that this "writing" occurs in conjunction with the lyrics that she sings. So I would like to do a contour analysis of her melodic output, as well as a textual analysis of what she sings, and look at the result of those two things together. Such an analysis would be looking at elements of singing such as musical phrasing, word pronunciation and vocal timbre, too. As for analytical frameworks, I know one that talks about gender and inactive melodies (and, I'm sure, my readers do too . . . and are sick of reading about it), so I think I can try to leave it at that.

As for conclusions, I want to conclude that: 1) melody is not dead (at least, not in this song); and 2) "here" are the examples of "vocal writing" in the song.

Any feedback is welcome.

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