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Creative Interpreting

March 13, 2013

I had rather unusual taste in music for a teenaged girl.  I wore my Iron Maiden and Stevie Ray Vaughan concert t-shirts to school.  And I distinctly remember being asked, twice, by a very good-looking boy, what I was listening to on my headphones.  Both times, my answer was, “Deep Purple.”  Coincidence, yes.  But that boy gave me strange looks both times, and he never asked me again.

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I am blessed to have a musical mentor these days, who is so heavily influenced by Deep Purple that his face lights up when he hears or plays their music.  I think Ritchie Blackmore is his personal guitar god.

Yesterday, we were listening to some tracks from a new CD called Re-Machined, a tribute album of songs from Deep Purple’s Machine Head, and discussing all the creative things you could do with a song.  For starters, how creative would the classic Smoke on the Water be if it was re-imagined by Carlos Santana?

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I sure want to get up and dance to that!

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But what if someone got REALLY creative, and re-invented the song as an almost unrecognizable techno piece, like the Flaming Lips did on the same tribute album?

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It’s weird, right?  I really didn’t like it at first, but as I listen to the album, I’ve come to enjoy it.

Like it or hate it (most Deep Purple/hard rock purists will hate it), what I enjoy about it is the sheer creativity of taking a song that’s been put on a bit of a pedestal, and then using the barest bones of it (the lyrics, the melody, and the riff) to re-invent it as something completely different. To be unafraid to resist simply making what is acceptable as “art”and risk something totally unexpected (rather like realistic painting and drawing vs., say, what Picasso was doing).  To interpret as opposed to merely copying.

Listening to it, I told my mentor that I thought it was very creative.  He replied, “Well, it’s ALL creative.  That’s what creativity is,” he added, waving in the general direction of the speakers.    Of course, he was right.  As usual.

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Incidentally, what got my mentor really excited was this tribute version of Highway Star.  It features Glenn Hughes, Steve Vai, and Chad  Smith:

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Not only did the creative stylings of Steve Vai inspire him to want to go home and try something a little different in playing this favourite song of Purple purists everywhere, he was equally intrigued by the vocals of Glenn Hughes (who, while not the original singer of the song, was a member of Deep Purple for awhile).  When my mentor and I try jamming this song next week, I hope to be equally inspired to add my own creative interpretation to those vocals.

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I can’t end this without including my own favourite off the Re-Machined tribute.  While I cover a wide range of artists, ranging from the Dixie Chicks to Sarah McLachlan to Heart, I would definitely count Iron Maiden’s singer, Bruce Dickinson, as my biggest vocal influence. I don’t know if that cute boy from high school would have been impressed with that, either, but honestly, I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now.  It’s all about the music.  🙂

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Dodie Goldney

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related post by Dodie Goldney: 

More Creative Interpreting

The Insta-band

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