Aug 232012

I like Beck. I honestly do. All his weird blips and beeps and forays into sampling, etc. But I honestly don’t know what to make of his latest: a songbook with annotated sheet music that buyers have to make to listen to.

Check out this McSweeney’s piece:

Who the hell is going to buy this thing? Concert-level pianists?


  13 Responses to “Oh Beck, you hipster Scientologist”

  1. Weird. I’m gonna wait for the player piano version in March 2013.

  2. Well, that’s the silliest thing I’ve seen all day.

  3. ladymisskirroyale

    Well, it’s taking the DIY creed to a new level. What, he doesn’t include a make-your-own-guitar kit?

    Actually, I would like to see the sheet music. I remember when I was a kid/teen and playing the piano regularly, I was really bummed that when I would buy the sheet music and when I played it, the songs would sound nothing like what I heard on the radio (piano skills aside). I tried “Bohemian Rhapsody” and a Beatles songbook (I and II) and nothing was very good. I’m guessing that it was simplified in structure and in key (who wants to play a song that is in a key with five flats or sharps?).

    So it would be a relief to hear Beck’s Music As He Meant It To Sound.

    These days, how many rock musicians out there read and write music?

  4. I saw this a few weeks ago and for the record (pun intended)…I think its brilliant. I love the idea. I hope to try to record a track of it myself.

  5. The sheet music reminds me of my earliest memories of my musician father. I learned to read music from him. Still recall how he gave me a Frank Zappa and “The Mothers of Invention” album

  6. This is a great idea. As ladymiss points out, it gets to the “As His Music Was Meant to Sound” aesthetic. It’s also cool that he asks us to make his music happen. It’s a great extension of that album he released a few years ago, the one with the blank cover that we could complete ourselves.

  7. It’s clearly a reference to the pre-recording medium days when songwriters made money by publishing sheet music for people to perform for themselves at home. It’s a pretty foreign concept at this point, but whatever potential shortcomings it might have as a “reproduction” method, it certainly makes up in encouraging real listener involvement.

    It’s kind of interesting to think that at one time, sheet music was a legitimate way to distribute a song to people. It makes you wonder haw much more widespread the ability to read music must have been. It also makes me wish that relized what a cool skill it was and had learned to sight read when I was young and too busy buying records.

  8. machinery

    Wouldn’t “How he meant it to sound” be an actual recording that he did himself?

    Hee, hee …

  9. machinery

    The optimist in me says there’s a lot to this “giving my music to the people!” idea that I dig.

    The cynic in me says “I wrote these songs … but man, I’m too lazy/tired to go through the gruelling recording process. Gee, what do I do with these demos now?”

  10. ohmstead

    Well it does include notation for the ukulele – that’s helpful.

  11. Beck may have a lot of faults, but I don’t think laziness is one of them. Take a look at his website. He does ongoing recordings of classic albums with a rotating list of collaborators. He posts music mix selections. He does a lot of producing and guesting. Like Prince, playing and recording music seems something he does constantly, whether working on his next “project”, (God I hate that fuckin’ word.) or just throwing something together and tossing it up on his site.

    I believe he really thought that this was an interesting idea and I’m guessing that he wrote some simple songs that wouldn’t be unapproachable for the average home musician but would still have merit as songs.That job sounds a lot harder for a guy as experienced in the studio and various recording studio hijinx as Beck than going in and knocking out another record.

    Sometimes a pretentious sounding idea may be worthwhile after all.

  12. ladymisskirroyale

    I can never remember the actual wording to those repeated RTH sayings: Mach Schnauzer, Battle Royalecrowncola, etc.

  13. Is it possible that he is just messing around with you guys for the sake of publicity? I’m not sure if there is a term for off-stage mach shau but this seems to be in the same ballpark as when Jack White released his 3 sided “triple decker” record within a record a few years ago:

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