Joyner Lucas’s “I’m Not Racist” — a perfect musical example of the 45/45/10 Formula

The 45/45/10 Formula for narrative/argument is one of the perpetual bees bumbling around my bonnet.  This video for this song is such a stone cold perfect example (and, subsequently, so rhetorically devastating) that I just had to share.  PRO-TIP: The first two-and-a-half minutes will likely be almost unbearable to watch for most white Americans.  If it helps, know that Joyner Lucas (the musician and the voice you hear throughout the song) is black (although not the black guy in the video).

At any rate, to review my 45/45/10 Formula:

  • The first 45% of a piece is the Setup: Characters/concepts/situations/dynamics are presented and relationships among these made clear
  • The next 45% is the Tangle: Complication(s) disrupt (or at least complicate) the situation laid out in the Setup
  • The last 10% is the Resolution: The knot is Untangled, for better or worse

In the case of this track, the Setup runs from the open to ~2:50. The Tangle then runs to ~5:50, and from that point to the cut to black is the Resolution. What especially thrills me here—beyond the hard body impact of the rhetoric itself and the lean power of the videography—is how shifts in the music mark out the transitions between stages in the argument: Each section break is marked out be an abrupt shift in the tone and mood of the backing track.

This is a wonderful primer on how to structure an narrative argument to hold an audience and not persuade them, per se—because that’s not the goal—but rather to enduringly stick in their craw, so they keep troubling over your argument long after they’re done with the piece of entertainment.  This is how you write moral fiction.  This is how you plant the seeds that grow the trees that, indefatigably and seemingly effortlessly, bend the arc of that moral universe back toward justice.

And that, kids, is our business.  Go, watch … and learn.

Holy Shit—Neither Kanye West nor Jay-Z are 1/10th the Artist of Donald Glover

There’re tracks by Kanye I like, and I have a great deal of respect and affection for Jay-Z (both because of and despite “The Story of O.J.“), but I’m sorry: As artists, neither have a patch on Donald Glover. The clarity and breadth of his thought and expression are dazzling and compact and searingly intense; it’s like getting hit in the chest with a frozen super-critical sphere of napalm.

Hamish Trolove’s Hobopunk Lap Steel Guitar (with Active Electronics!)

I love hearing from folks who read my DIY books, because they are always up to something that I never imagined, and yet love on first sight.  Case in point:

Last December I got an email from Hamish Trolove, a Junkyard Jam Band reader who mentioned he was building his own riff on a Shane Speal 2×4 lap steel with a build-in Mud-n-Sizzle pre-amp (project 12 in Junkyard Jam Band) and dual LFO box (translation: It’s a junkyard lap steel electric guitar with a built in pre-amp—so things might get loud—and an automated modulator, allowing him to dial in anything from a little honky-tonk tremelo shimmer to a big pulsing metal wobble).

As Hamish explained:

The instrument uses waste cargo palette wood, and TIG welding wire to mark the “fret” spacings. I find that old palettes often have extraordinarily hard wood with some amazing colours when planed down, sanded and varnished. Hopefully by the end of the project I’ll have something that looks fairly tidy-ish in a hobo/steampunky kind of way.

“Fairly tidy-ish” is such an understantement.  Check this thing out:

Lap_Steel_Paraphenalia2

Lap_Steel_Head Lap_Steel_Tail

Detail of the pre-amp Hamish installed in his guitar
Detail of the pre-amp Hamish installed in his guitar
Dual_LFO
Front panel of Hamish’s Dual LFO box
Dual_LFO_Undercovers
Interior of Hamish’s Dual LFO

Oh daaaaaaamn! I love everything about this!  He also included a schematic of his expansion of my old Universal LFO (Junkyard Jam Band project 13), for folks interested in doing something similar:

Hamish Trolove Dual_LFO_Circuit-AsBuilt
Hamish Trolove’s Dual LFO

Hamish also put me on to Frescobaldi, a powerful, pretty, and free sheet music text editor that looks amazing. (For every 100 of you who are wondering why you’d ever need such a thing, there is one musical geek who is gonna click that link and weep with joy.  Trust me, for I have been that very geek.)

Incidentally, while you’re clicking links, don’t miss Hamish’s Baddest Mountain Dulcimer Ever.

Beats per Week 10: Merry Xanukristallmas!

I’ve been woefully lax on the beats this month. All apologies; my event schedule, plus holiday prep and holidays, has had me running like the proverbial chicken.  To make it up, I’m posting three deep-cuts today, all from back when I used to record annual Xmanukah Songs and had not yet developed crippling shame at my core musical incompetencies.  Enjoy!

Dave-o Is Helping Folks Find the Good Noise in Toledo!!!

Almost every Saturday in December I’ll be down at the Toledo, Ohio Imagination Station Hands-On Museum as their “guest tinkering artist,” showing folks how to find the Good Noise.

Lots of other cool stuff going on there (Dinosaurs!  Star Wars! You can ride a crazy tight-rope bike!!!)—plus, I’ve built a little “Slinky Sound Forest” for you to explore, any day of the week, all December long

My schedule in Toledo is something like this:

  • Saturday, December 9: Diddley bows, acoustic and electric
  • Saturday, December 16: Simple synthesizers
  • Saturday, December 30: New Year’s noisemakers (free make-n-take!)

I’ll also happily show folks how to make quick-n-easy didgeridoos, elephant trumpets, and “two-handed” double-reed quacker bagpipes, and give them a tour of the Slinky Sound Forest, on any of those days.
ToledoImaginationStation

Beats per Week #09: “The Excitation of Sympathetic Song” (Russian monks? Aliens? Cthulhu cultists?)

Found this in a stack of unlabeled 78 rpm records I bought off eBay, like, a billion years ago.  No time to lay down a new track this week, so I just digitized this instead.  Mysteries within mysteries, etc.

In Case You Missed It: Beats per Week

Since September I’ve been posting a new track each week.  Nothing new this week (I’m in a cabin in the woods right now, and thus can’t upload new music; this post was pre-scheduled).  In the meantime, here’s a little widget so you can listen to all of the tracks in one go.

Have a great holiday weekend!  #gobblegobble!

Beats per Week #08: “Desire” ( @johnchurchville )

Another remix of deep cuts from my crates of old Simpsons episode LPs and highly recognizable bits and bites from the original motion picture soundtrack for the 1986 cult-classic horror-thriller Churchville’s Purgatorio. (As with the last two installments, be advised that big bass demands big headphones.)

Beats per Week #07: “Radiation” (heads-up @johnchurchville )

Another club-banger remixed from the soundtrack to the 1986 low-budget horror-thriller Churchville’s Purgatorio. (As with last week’s installment—also remixed from the original score to Churchville’s Purgatorio—be advised that big bass demands big headphones.)