?

Log in

No account? Create an account

A brief thought on pony music and "new sincerity"

« previous entry | next entry »
Jan. 21st, 2014 | 02:15 pm

One thing I love about the brony community is the way that people are happy to share their creative works with other fans; not just visual or textual art, but also (especially) music. The brony community is a very music-heavy one, and there is something magical about fan-created music, not just despite it being produced by amateurs, but precisely because of it.

People are so unafraid to create and share these works: write songs, sing them, record them, and put them up on Youtube etc. to share them with everyone, and I love that. Quite a few of the songs that get shared this way aren't as "polished" as mainstream works might be; the mastering's not flawless, the takes aren't perfect, fan voice actors don't match the characters to the last degree, and indeed don't always have trained singing voices anyway. But the music is honest and sincere in a way that professionally-produced mainstream music usually isn't; not hyperreal but real.

I was thinking earlier that quite a bit of it I wouldn't share with others (outside of my friends, anyway) because I'd be concerned that they'd reject it for not living up their standards, but I'm not realizing that the problem lies with these others, in fact our modern societies in general, not bronies or their music. We've learned to expect this flashiness and glitziness, and with music in particular we've lost our ability to appreciate the simple things, the unpretentious things, the things that simply are what they are: the real things.

Compare eating a simple home-cooked meal with friends to a perfectly-choreographed dinner at a fancy yet ultimately sterile restaurant. Which would you prefer? I know I'd much rather be sitting around a campfire, sharing a big pot of chili, laughing and talking and being with the people I care deeply about.

Brony music is like that.

The brony community is sometimes said to be part of the "new sincerity" phenomenon, and while I'm usually loathe to label phenomena while they're still ongoing – it's only hindsight that's 20/20, after all –, I agree with this assessment: sincerity is one of the brony community's defining core characteristics. And I think this is particularly evident in the music. Our music may not be professional, but it's heartfelt. We do what we love, and it shows.

(On a side note — "new sincerity" is interesting anyway. A few years ago, some German women's magazines – which, despite all societal changes, are still largely about fashion, make-up and pop psychology – announced that they'd start abandoning professional models and instead use "normal women" to model clothes and accessories, in order to cease projecting unrealistic body images and beauty ideals. It's the same principle as with professionalism in music: too much of a good thing isn't good, and people are getting fed up with it, yearning for the real instead of the hyperreal.)

But music is special because we're so used to judging it harshly. Ask yourself: if someone, a fan, drew a picture of whatever they were a fan of, would you compare this picture to the works of professional artists, and judge it poorly if it didn't reach the same standard of technical excellency? Hardly; you'd appreciate it for what it is, a sincere expression of creativity and joy. Fan-created music is exactly that, too.

Link | Leave a comment | Share

Comments {5}

Supergremlin777

(no subject)

from: vadertime
date: Jan. 21st, 2014 03:13 pm (UTC)
Link

What I believe is causing this 'New Sincerity' movement outside of the fandom is the overabundance of indifference and factionalism being forced on the people throughout government and media. "You're from City x? Then you better act like Y and favor Z". That's also why, imo, FiM got real popular. We have reached a point where people are finally fed up with all of the pretentious bullshit and the encouragement of said bullshit, that people can find enjoyment in a children's show that doesn't try and feed the viewer useless nonsense or an empty experience, but instead a genuinely enjoyable experience with well thought out characters, nicely written story, and a legitimate moral at the end to wrap it all up with that people can utilize in real life in some way.

Which comes to the fandom. The music imo is a show of love, not only to the show, but to the ideals for which the show emphasizes. Being true to yourself and your friends, caring for one another and so forth is reflected in the music and art. The criticism as well is not meant to tear down or even shit talk, but to offer suggestions for improvements as well. Music normally isn't judged so harshly, but it has gotten to the point now where in mainstream music any two bit hack can have no talent but be a success for some artificial reason (Justin Bieber comes to mind). Also, just about every female singer today sounds nearly identical, so there's no distinction in singing anymore.

Reply | Thread

Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Jan. 21st, 2014 06:21 pm (UTC)
Link

Yeah, all that is true. I'd like to think that factionalism is on the retreat (although I think it goes far beyond factionalism based on geographical location); but I'd couch it in positive terms instead and say that people are more comfortable being themselves and not conforming to externally-imposed drawers (heh, now there's a mental image).

It really is about sincerity. MLP:FiM is good, of course, and that's part of why it's attracted such a large and extremely unexpected following. But it's also sincere: the show can be taken at face value and has a genuinely good message, untainted by cynicism. I'm reminded of something Barry White sang in one song: I'm sincere / I say what I mean, and I mean just what I say. That's pretty much MLP:FiM, too, and people appreciate that.

And this is what I'm seeing in fan art, too, especially fan music, as opposed to (much, although not all) mainstream music. As I said above, it's honest, it's heart-felt, it's genuine; in a word, sincere. People who e.g. don't have classically-trained voices can still pour their hearts and souls into their music — and they do, and it shows. And that's what others in turn appreciate, and what I love.

Sometimes I think how acquaintances of mine – local people, people who're not bronies, likely never heard of them, people who're not really "at home" on the Internet – would react to these songs if I played them and said, listen to this, I love this. I don't know how they'd react, but I'm fairly sure that no matter how, they'd judge these songs as they would professionally-produced mainstream material.

And that's understandable, of course, but it also drove home just how much my own attitude there has changed. I would've been like that in the past, but these days I not only think that you can't measure fan works using these metaphorical yardsticks, but that the entire approach as such is flawed. That's where hyperreality comes in: people have learned to confuse a flashy exterior (e.g. high production values in music) with genuine value, whatever that means. People have lost sight of the important things, and that applies in a much, much more general context than fan music or even fan works and fandoms in general (compare e.g. my remarks about fancy dining and models in women's magazines).

This then is another reason why I love pony music. I've shed a lot of cynicism fairly early on when I became a brony: it's taken a little longer with music, but it's been gotten me back on track and put the focus on the things that matter again. And although high production values are obviously good, they're no substitute for putting your heart into your music and making music because it really means something to you and because you want to share something with like-minded people, your peers, your equals.

Reply | Parent | Thread

Supergremlin777

(no subject)

from: vadertime
date: Jan. 21st, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
Link

Yes, I myself would love to see modern day factionalism and parochialism themselves become a thing of the past in my lifetime, but who knows?

Like you said, music being made in the fandom is generally well received, not only because it's done rather well, but it's also made from the heart, as opposed to a generic sound that's only mass produced to make money. the little music I have heard from the fandom is well made and I could find myself listening to it whenever, as opposed to 'mainstream' music, which has no distinction to me. Case in point, listen to music from the past 15 or so years, what will be remembered or stand out 25, 50, or even 75 years from now? Not much imo.

Another aspect of modern music and why it's judged so harshly is the message it sends to its audience. Mainstream music reinforces the image of playing "the Hollywood game", flashing excess money, sexy girls, expensive booze and drugs, and fast cars, basically living for the now (YOLO). I'm beginning to believe that sane sensible people are finally getting tired of passively accepting such nonsense and starting to make their own art and music.

Reply | Parent | Thread

Schneelocke

(no subject)

from: schnee
date: Jan. 21st, 2014 10:00 pm (UTC)
Link

Case in point, listen to music from the past 15 or so years, what will be remembered or stand out 25, 50, or even 75 years from now? Not much imo.

True, but to be fair, the same's true for mainstream music from 30, 40 or 50 years ago. We have a fairly rosy view of the past, musically speaking, precisely because it's only the good stuff that sticks in our memories, with all the crap that existed even back then lost to the sands of time.

I think there's decent mainstream music today, too, and some of it will no doubt be remembered. That said, I don't think it can be as sincere as quite a bit of pony music is: there's just too many potential listeners that a mainstream track has to appeal to, and the connection between the artist and the listener is too business-like, too professional, too impersonal — not to mention too fleeting. Bronies are all in it together, as it were; in a way we're all peers thanks to our shared interest in ponies. But take a random artist that you might hear on the radio: even if it's a genuine musician who's carving out their own career, rather than a manufactured one-hit wonder conceived by record company executives, what's your connection? Most likely there is none.

Mainstream music reinforces the image of playing "the Hollywood game", flashing excess money, sexy girls, expensive booze and drugs, and fast cars, basically living for the now (YOLO)

Hey, living for the now is great! :) Most people aren't doing that, and it's having a major effect on how they feel (which may incidentally serve to explain why such music is popular).

I agree about the rest, although this is really just one aspect of mainstream music that may be more or less prominent depending on what genre you usually listen to.

. I'm beginning to believe that sane sensible people are finally getting tired of passively accepting such nonsense and starting to make their own art and music.

There is that. I think much of it is also due to how much easier it has gotten to do things yourself: both making music and organizing (i.e., meeting others who share your interests). Given some time and dedication and a modest investment into hard- and software, it's very easy these days to create your own music, record it, in fact, collaborate with other artists all over the world, and then share the fruits of your labor with the entire world, for free. And the barriers to participation in fandoms are much lower, and the networks built much denser, and this in turn encourages creation simply by virtue of the expected number of creative people in the group increasing, and likewise their chances for collaboration, mutual inspiration, and so on.

If you were a fan of Star Trek in the 60s or 70s, then (I'm totally making this up, but I think it'll be at least somewhat accurate), you may have known a handful of others, and you may have belonged to an inofficial fan club, perhaps received the monthly 'zine with stories and discussion and reprints of art, that sort of thing, but nowadays? It's so easy to become a fan, and it's so easy to meet and communicate with a humongous number of others.

Add to that the fact that the knowledge that there's actually an audience will further entice people to create, and I think it's easy to see why there's such a flood of e.g. fan music these days.

Of course, bronies are still special, and having a shared focal point for the community to center on and in fact arise from in the first place is crucial.

Reply | Parent | Thread

Supergremlin777

(no subject)

from: vadertime
date: Jan. 22nd, 2014 12:45 am (UTC)
Link

"True, but to be fair, the same's true for mainstream music from 30, 40 or 50 years ago."
Kinda. I can give a few examples of groups and people that will still be remembered decades later (Big examples are Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Elvis).

"I think there's decent mainstream music today, too, and some of it will no doubt be remembered. That said, I don't think it can be as sincere as quite a bit of pony music is: there's just too many potential listeners that a mainstream track has to appeal to, and the connection between the artist and the listener is too business-like, too professional, too impersonal — not to mention too fleeting. Bronies are all in it together, as it were; in a way we're all peers thanks to our shared interest in ponies. But take a random artist that you might hear on the radio: even if it's a genuine musician who's carving out their own career, rather than a manufactured one-hit wonder conceived by record company executives, what's your connection? Most likely there is none."
That's true. The music is one thing that makes the Brony fandom unique.

"Given some time and dedication and a modest investment into hard- and software, it's very easy these days to create your own music, record it, in fact, collaborate with other artists all over the world, and then share the fruits of your labor with the entire world, for free. And the barriers to participation in fandoms are much lower, and the networks built much denser, and this in turn encourages creation simply by virtue of the expected number of creative people in the group increasing, and likewise their chances for collaboration, mutual inspiration, and so on."
Definitely. I think that's why it's easier to be a brony musician as opposed to a "mainstream" musician. You have a smaller, more supportive group you're catering to so there's not as big of a risk as there would be if you were a "mainstream" singer.

"Add to that the fact that the knowledge that there's actually an audience will further entice people to create, and I think it's easy to see why there's such a flood of e.g. fan music these days"
That's true too. People will feel more inspired once they see other people's talents and work put to their full potential.

Reply | Parent | Thread