Excerpts from Quincy Jones interview at Vulture.comhttp://www.vulture.c...nversation.htmlhttps://en.m.wikiped...colas_Slonimsky
"..few years back there was a quote you supposedly gave — I couldn’t find the source of it, so maybe it’s apocryphal — where you dismissed rap as being a bunch of four-bar loops. Is that an opinion you stand by?
That’s true about rap, that it’s the same phrase over and over and over again. The ear has to have the melody groomed for it; you have to keep the ear candy going because the mind turns off when the music doesn’t change. Music is strange that way. You’ve got to keep the ear busy.
Is there an example from the work you did, maybe with Michael, which illustrates what you’re talking about?
Yeah, the best example of me trying to feed the musical principles of the past — I’m talking about bebop — is “Baby Be Mine.” [Hums the song’s melody.] That’s Coltrane done in a pop song. Getting the young kids to hear bebop is what I’m talking about. Jazz is at the top of the hierarchy of music because the musicians learned everything they could about music. Every time I used to see Coltrane he’d have Nicolas Slonimsky’s book.
Yeah, he was famously obsessed with the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. That’s the one you’re talking about, right?
That’s right. You’re bringing up all the good subjects now! Everything that Coltrane ever played was in that thesaurus. In fact, right near the front of that book, there’s a 12-tone example — it’s “Giant Steps.” Everyone thinks Coltrane wrote that, he didn’t. It’s Slonimsky. That book started all the jazz guys improvising in 12-tone. Coltrane carried that book around till the pages fell off.
When Coltrane started to go far out with the music —
Even further out, though, like on Ascension —
You can’t get further out than 12-tone, and “Giant Steps” is 12-tone.
But when he was playing atonally —
No, no, no. Even that was heavily influenced by Alban Berg — that’s as far out as you can get.
Do you hear the spirit of jazz in pop today?
No. People gave it up to chase money. When you go after Cîroc vodka and Phat FarmCîroc is the alcohol brand owned by Diddy. Phat Farm was the fashion label founded by hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons in 1992. Simmons sold the company in 2004. and all that shit, God walks out of the room. I have never in my life made music for money or fame. Not even ThrillerJones may not have worked on Thriller for money, but co-producing the album (with Jackson) presumably made him a ton of it: The 1982 album is widely reported to be the biggest-selling LP of all time, having sold somewhere north of 66 million copies. . No way. God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money. You could spend a million dollars on a piano part and it won’t make you a million dollars back. That’s just not how it works.
Is there innovation happening in modern pop music?
Hell no. It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no fucking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.
What was your greatest musical innovation?
Everything I’ve done.
Everything you’ve done was innovative?
Everything was something to be proud of — absolutely. It’s been an amazing contrast of genres. Since I was very young, I’ve played all kinds of music: bar mitzvah music, Sousa marches, strip-club music, jazz, pop. Everything. I didn’t have to learn a thing to do Michael Jackson.
What would account for the songs being less good than they used to be?
The mentality of the people making the music. Producers now are ignoring all the musical principles of the previous generations. It’s a joke. That’s not the way it works: You’re supposed to use everything from the past. If you know where you come from, it’s easier to get where you’re going. You need to understand music to touch people and become the soundtrack to their lives. Can I tell you one of the greatest moments in my life?
It was the first time they celebrated Dr. King’s birthday in Washington, D.C., and Stevie Wonder was in charge and asked me to be musical director. After the performance, we went to a reception, and three ladies came over: The older lady had Sinatra at the Sands, I arranged that; her daughter had my album The Dude; and then that lady’s daughter had Thriller. Three generations of women said those were their favorite records. That touched me so much.
I’m trying to isolate what you specifically believe the problem with modern pop is. It’s the lack of formal musical knowledge on the part of the musicians?
Yes! And they don’t even care they don’t have it.
Well, who’s doing good work?
Bruno Mars. Chance the Rapper. Kendrick Lamar. I like where Kendrick’s mind is. He’s grounded. Chance, too. And the Ed Sheeran record is great. Sam Smith — he’s so open about being gay. I love it. Mark Ronson is someone who knows how to produce.
Putting aside the quality of contemporary songs, are there any technical or sonic production techniques that feel fresh?
No. There ain’t nothing new. The producers are lazy and greedy.
How does that laziness manifest itself?
Listen to the music — these guys don’t know what they’re doing. You’ve got to respect the gift God gave you by learning your craft.
Are you as down on the state of film scoring as you are on pop?
It’s not good. Everybody’s lazy. Alexandre DesplatThe French film composer won an Oscar for his score for 2015’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and his been nominated an additional eight times. — he’s good. He’s my brother. He was influenced by my scores.
Again, when you say film composers are lazy, what does that mean, exactly, in this context?
It means they’re not going back and listening to what Bernard Herrmann did.
Do you see a future for the music business?
There isn’t a music business anymore! If these people had paid attention to Shawn Fanning 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be in this mess. But the music business is still too full of these old-school bean counters. You can’t be like that. You can’t be one of these back-in-my-day people.
You’re talking about business not music, but, and I mean this respectfully, don’t some of your thoughts about music fall under the category of “back in my day”?
Musical principles exist, man. Musicians today can’t go all the way with the music because they haven’t done their homework with the left brain. Music is emotion and science. You don’t have to practice emotion because that comes naturally. Technique is different. If you can’t get your finger between three and four and seven and eight on a piano, you can’t play. You can only get so far without technique. People limit themselves musically, man. Do these musicians know tango? Macumba? Yoruba music? Samba? Bossa nova? Salsa? Cha-cha?
Maybe not the cha-cha.
[Marlon] BrandoThe actor and Jones were longtime friends. During a down period in Jones’s life, he spent time on the island in Tahiti which Brando owned. The two called each other Leroy, owing to a story recounted extremely well (one among many) in this recent GQ profile. used to go cha-cha dancing with us. He could dance his ass off. He was the most charming motherfucker you ever met. He’d fuck anything. Anything! He’d fuck a mailbox. James Baldwin. Richard Pryor. Marvin Gaye.
What’s something positive you’ve been feeling about music lately?
Understanding where it comes from. It’s fascinating. I was on a trip with Paul Allen a few years ago, and I went to the bathroom and there were maps on the wall of how the Earth looked a million-and-a-half years ago. Off the coast of South Africa, where Durban is, was the coast of China. The people had to be mixing, and you hear it in the music — in the drums from both places. There are African qualities to Chinese music, Japanese music, too, with the Kodo drumming. It all comes from Africa. It’s a heavy thing to think about."
Aren't there any books on the subject?
'Melody in Songwriting' and 'Dance Music Manual'. Easier books for starters or deeper overview without going all mental into maths and all that..https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/063400638Xhttps://www.amazon.c...ce music manual
Edited by encryptedmind, 19 February 2018 - 11:48.