Continuing to slow-blog the Stanford Alarm Will Sound concert from Friday night...
The Shaggs were an American all-female rock and roll group.... Their first album, Philosophy of the World was released in 1969. The Shaggs have often been considered the worst rock and roll band in the world...The Shaggs seem to have a consistent (but highly idiosyncratic) approach to melody, harmony, and rhythm. The songs use highly irregular verse structures, which are emphasized by the melodic structures, which typically accord one note per syllable: the guitar accompaniment attempts to reproduce this pattern as well. Most of the Shaggs material is made up of eighth- and quarter-notes.
Then, we heard over the speakers a song from the original Shaggs album. Finally, Alarm Will Sound played their arrangement of the same song.
About the content, I'll only say this is some of the most unusual music I've heard; idiosyncratic in an almost Ivesian way although the rhythmic complexity may have been unintentional. Note that the conductor and drummer were both wearing headphones, presumably for a click track.
About the process, holy musicology! Hearing the orginal and then hearing the arrangement played live was a great way to experience what the musicians (and arranger Gavin Chuck) had accomplished. The Nancarrow transcriptions of player piano music would have also benefited from the same treatment. And if only Marin Alsop or some other conductor would play some of the original David Bowie immediately before a performance of Philip Glass' "Heroes" Symphony.
Who would have expected that hearing recorded rock music on stage, in the midst of a "classical" concert, would lead to a surprisingly worthwhile experience.
And finally, some text from Philosophy of the World:
It doesn't matter what you do
It doesn't matter what you say
There will always be
One who wants things the opposite way