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Tom Bailey: thoughts on music


Tom’s architecture analogy

“I’ve got this rolling metaphor for music as architecture. You look around and all the buildings are different, but they have lots of things in common, which is that they’re a sheltering environment, they must have a way in, they must have certain aspects of nurturing like light, fresh air and so forth – otherwise they don’t last, people don't want to be in them. Songs are the same. Give me a way in, and the environment can be interesting and challenging, but the basic stuff has to be there. Otherwise all you’re doing is saying ‘look at this shard of glass, why don’t you live in it’. Well, no, I don’t want to live in a shard of glass. If you push the boundaries of music to the point where it really doesn’t resemble music anymore, you risk closing off to all but a very few people. I can be seduced by the sonorities of experimentalism, but I like a good foot-tapping rhythm and a singable melody as well. And there’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact it’s an elusive but joyful thing to find the thing that makes people want to go along with you, enter the building. So I make no excuses for that. Some people think that’s crass and over-commercial, but what I’m talking about is something else.”

On minor chords

“The minor keys more worthy of attention. There’s more complexity. Of course some of that’s physics, because notes go well together, or not so well together, and therefore create harmony or tension, according to the number of vibrations in the frequency. There are actual, pure natural science reasons why certain notes go together, and others don’t, and I think in minor keys you’re pushing the possibilities of complexity a great deal more by not going for the most obvious juxtapositions. Or it could just be something more poetic, that you’re more interested in misery than happiness.” [laughs]

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