How are you?
A recent exchange on the serious board prompted me to create this topic: what is a cover of a song? The question was raised when the following doubt was brought up: "Does Queen cover God Save The Queen
"? Does Queen cover a cover of it? Or is it something else we're talking about?
Dear user Thomas Quinn provided some great and simple guidelines for us which I think are precious: 1) Originals; the performer is also the author
2) Covers; the performer is not the author, the author is known
3) Traditionals; the performer is not the author; the author is unknown
Another dear user said something interesting: "x did a cover of Bach". Something didn't sound right to me: is it a cover? I guess not.And it may shed - I hope! - some light on the national anthem question.
I then thought it'd be nice, with all due respect and asking for the blessing of Queen YourValentine and pledging the protection of Knight Sir GH, to introduce a 4th category (this is mine: all the stupidity of it must be ascribed to me, not to dear Thomas)! 4) Readings; the performer is not the author and doesn't have access, however poorly, to the sound of the original.
So it'd be like this:
a)I do cover of tunes
- I have committed to memory the sound
of the performance of the song by its author - and I can even cover a cover
! One could be ridiculed, as it has already happened, for covering
(yes) a given reading
of a Bach's piece (a guy trying to be Glenn Gould...) :)
b) I do a good - let's dream a bit! :)) - reading
of the written remains of a musical past
: e.g., Bach's X Partita - I have done a good deal of research, I went to a prestigious music school, I tried to get the best and most authorative scholar editions of his works and listened to some of the various readings, and then I present mine. I get raving reviews and Yara becomes a STANDARD. lol
I'm playing around a bit with an important distinction, since scores don't speak for themselves and they only become music when a human being - or a machine - comes in, reads it and plays it: Note vs Tune
is the written
representation of a tune. The tune
is the sound
The term "cover"
is applied people who reproduce in their own way
of a song they didn't compose.
The term "reading"
is applied to people who only have access to the music through written documents
. The written account of the music can be more or less useful but it can be almost an engima - as a 17th Century notation when there wasn't even the piano as we know it, for instance, and the process of coming up with a convention for the organization of the sound material based on the division or fraction of the octave was still in the making.
Why don't we say that X did a cover of Bach's X Partita? Because of this simple distinction, I think.
Is it an argument from authority? "Mr. F doesn't use this term to refer to a certain recording, therefore..."? No. The argument is authorative because, I think, it's based on a very good, helpful distinction.
Does Callas cover Verdi
? No. She presents her reading
of Verdi's music. Reading in a very literal sense - the source is a piece of paper!
Does Glenn Gould covers Bach
? No. Giving a certain reading to a piece of music from the past, the sound of which we don't have access to, is so hard that there are often schools of interpretation.
Do the Cardigans cover Iron Man
or Hendrix cover All Along The Watchtower
? Yes! In this case, they committed to memory the sound of the original performance of the songs and tried to replicate it in their own way, with more or less creativity.
Before I present my reading of a piece as an assignment given to me by the professor at the music school, I must do a huge amount of reading, research and listen to the many different
schools of interpretation of a certain musician - after I do all that - if I want to get a good score I have to do it - it's regarded as a good thing, though not necessary, if I write a paper or simply say why the hell I think my reading is worthy. Then, and only then, I present the piece, I play it, I make music happen out of a piece of paper!
Usually, all the artist who wants to cover something has to make is...employing his creativity. The Cardigans don't have to do much research before covering Iron Man...
It doesn't mean, of course, that what I do is in any way superior. I listen to Hendrix cover of All Along The Watchtower I really feel there's very little, if any, music in me - I feel like a despicable, disposable piece of termite, let's say.
But then: Does one cover La Marseillaise
? No! We know the author - Claude Rouget - but we don't have any piece of sound of the revolutionaries singing it before storming into a monastery! lol So it's weird to say: "Great cover of The Marseillaise". I'd say...good reading, good interpretation. The point being: cover is a term
mostly applied to people who reproduce in their own way the sound of a performance of a song done by its author or under the author's directions. There can be even cover of covers.
Hugs, you all. Let's see if I can bully you guys with my nails - grrrrrrrrrrrrr like a tiger defying... :)) - into accepting the fourth category.
If you don't, well, you'll be responsible for a broken heart (the emotional blackmail bit). ;-)))))
Have a nice sunday!!!!