Episode 002: The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel
In which we discuss elementary school art projects, Tim Burton, and iPhones
The Diorama: the quintessential childhood deliverable for a book report, a holiday celebration, a final project—basically anytime a teacher wanted their whole class to do something artistic. Likely when most of their students weren’t artistic.
Dioramas: also very big in museum displays during the first half of the last century. The are plenty of elaborate ones remaining at The American Museum of Natural History in NYC.
Thank you, Louis Daguerre[!!], for inventing the diorama. I was astonished to learn that one of the founders of photography also devised this timeless grade school art form. I also learned that Monsieur Daguerre was a marvelous painter of gloomy landscapes and still-lifes like his 1824 masterpiece, “The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel”.
Daguerre’s talents were multi-dimensional. Not unlike the diorama.
While lo-fi and downtempo inform a lot of my production and arrangement choices, my music is definitely not lo-fi. Drums are usually too loud, sometimes even aggressive. Too much clangy stuff going on in general. And very, very not-harmonious harmony.
However, this one does have a faint echo of a standard chord progression. Movement by fourths. The hint of a line cliché. But I think the dissonance between the bassline and the harmony, and within the chords themselves, defies lo-fi.
Chillhop isn’t likely to come calling.
Yet, the Fender Rhodes. That beautiful 70s beast, the ur-instrument of lo-fi. The Rhodes in this beat helps it kind of masquerade as lo-fi’s disconsolate, immoral alter ego.
Geeky producer note: the bell patch I used for the main melody sounded great on its own, but once it was in the mix, it was so muddy that I had to roll just a ton of bass off of it. Now it has this interesting, biting mid-rangy tone.
An early listener called this beat a cross between a lullaby and a Tim Burton movie. I’ll take that.
So much to talk about!
Holyrood Abbey still stands like this today, collapsed roof and all. Of course it does, because in Europe they don't tear cool things down. Huge tourist attraction in Scotland, I hear.
Am I the only person that thinks that this painting looks like both a diorama and photograph? Daguerre knew what he was after.
Apparently, after visiting Holyrood Abbey, Mendelssohn wrote, “Everything is ruined, decayed, and the clear heavens pour in. I think I have found there the beginning of my "Scottish" Symphony.” Indeed, he then composed Symphony No. 3 in A Minor, Op. 56.
Reduction notes: a painting like this one seems like it would be very difficult to find 5 colors different enough to feature, but it's an illusion. The muted cast over the entire painting just looks like shades of the same colors, but there is a surprising amount to work with here.
Speaking of Daguerre’s great invention [the photograph, not the diorama], what kind of legacy are we leaving the next generation? Thousands, tens of thousands of photos on our phones, largely unorganized.
We all do it, and we don’t even think about it. If I take a picture of something, I probably take 10 pictures of that thing. And how often do I go back and delete the nine I don't want? 1% of the time? None % of the time?
And never mind that taking so many photos is likely bad for us…who the heck is going to want all of them?
Until next week, thanks for reading Polyester City. If you have any thoughts, please leave a comment by clicking the link above. If you know anyone who likes Music and Art and Stories [and dioramas], which is pretty much everyone you know, please consider sharing by clicking the link below.