the best exchange on Metafilter today

the topic was Phish’s final concert which happened on sunday

it began with Seth:

As I stated before, their musicianship, and consequently, their significance is tarnished by the pathetic sychophants who want to argue that Phish is teh greatest evar or original or even just different than the rest. The reason why it is a joke is because the fans are the fan of the scene. So when these brain dead shroomed out pigpens speak as if Phish is God, then it prevents observers from objectively gauging the musical ability of the band.

The guys can play some instruments. But that is about it, which is why they are jam band. Songwriting? Phish couldn’t write their way out of a nutsack (/cartman). Be instrumental. Instrumentalists can be great. But don’t pretend like you can write a song when the song exists merely as a pretext for a 12 minute jam using things like vaccum cleaners and such. I think Phish catered to their stoned out fans, and, as such, were limited as musicians.

Hopefully, for the sake of the artists, the band members can leave behind that wretched scene and grow musically.

posted by Seth at 5:07 PM PST on August 17





Divided Sky

It’s Ice


The Curtain

I am Hydrogen

All Things Reconsidered

Slave to the Traffic Light


Oh Kee Pa Ceremony

My Friend, My Friend


The Man who Stepped into Yesterday

All composition, all well done, possibly some of the best composition done (outside of the jazz and classical worlds) in the late 80’s / early 90’s. The improvisational things were spectacular at times, boring at others, but the jams – while a fun and occasionally interesting sideshow, were never what made phish great. What made them great was the composition, and the willingness to compose outside of the 4/4 3.5 minute rock song standard format.

Take Guyute for example, go download it – try and count it. Betcha ya can’t.

I’ll save you the effort even – it starts in 21/8ths, drops 3/8ths after the first verse into 18/8th’s back to 21/8ths to 4/4, changes keys a couple times, has a tempo shift, switches to 2/4 to 5/4 back to c to 15/8 to 12/8 to 21/8 to finish the song.

And they executed it flawlessly on stage (ok maybe not everytime, but more often than not) time after time.

Name me a band that writes and plays a wide variety of musical styles, well, with interesting tempo shifts, interesting key changes, executes on stage, and has a care-free attitude centered around having fun – and that’s a band I want to go see (previously, they were called phish, we’ll see if someone else with as much talent comes along. it will probably be a while.)

To get it right, they practiced and practiced. Then along came wives and children and the like and the most time consuming thing they did, practice, fell by the wayside. So they moved away from executing on the complicated compositions and to having fun improvising for a while.

Like I said, sometimes it was great, sometimes it was just plain bad, but for a few years it was a new musical direction. As a big jazz fan, and a big phish fan, I can understand a few bad improv sessions, Miles & Coltrane – they both have some real stinkers recorded, so does phish – it’s ok, its part of the improv ethic. However, the jams didn’t really grow – into new forms nor into new composition, they lost the time to practice, and so they hung ’em up. Wise, not wise? who can say, bands form and disapate all the time, I’m just glad that they formed, played their songs and improvs for us over the course of 21 years, left some great memories and some great music lying around for future generations to dig, ya dig?

posted by kurtosis at 6:52 PM PST on August 17

it starts in 21/8ths, drops 3/8ths after the first verse into 18/8th’s back to 21/8ths to 4/4, changes keys a couple times, has a tempo shift, switches to 2/4 to 5/4 back to c to 15/8 to 12/8 to 21/8 to finish the song.

And that, my friends, is why many people do not prefer the musical stylings of Phish.

posted by eustacescrubb at 6:54 PM PST on August 17

And that, eustacescrubb, is why I went and saw them. Say what you will, but you can never accuse them of being “formulaic.”

posted by kurtosis at 6:55 PM PST on August 17

kurtosis: I’m counting 7 for every bar all the way through that first section of Guyute before the instrumental section. 21’s a multiple of 7, but I don’t think you need to keep counting that long. Heh.

posted by emelenjr at 7:12 PM PST on August 17

it’s scored as 9/8 | 12/8 alternating bars which works out slightly differently than 21/8 or 7/8 for that matter. I was lazy and wrote 21/8 for the sake of ease. The 18/8th section is actually alternating bars of 6/8 | 12/8. i didn’t think anyone would actually take the time to listen and too count!

posted by kurtosis at 7:29 PM PST on August 17

phishphilter + grow a brain + ken layne

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