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Beck's Song Reader


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#41 Gueralita

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Posted 09 August 2012 - 09:14 PM


I am amazed at the general negative reaction to this. Everyone does realize that sheet music is actually the original way music was put out, right? Its not like Vivaldi was dropping 180g vinyl with an mp3 download code. The original idea behind the production of music was to create a piece that could be played (and interpreted) by others. Entertainment was interactive. Even early recorded music was mostly taking a popular written song and recording it. And re-recording it. I agree that this is a bit out of left field, but the reaction I am hearing sounds like people would have preferred to have an album of him farting because then they could hear the "greatness of beck and his original sounds" to this project of sheet music. I think its weird and fun and crazy. I am glad he did it and look forward to getting it.


Beck is no Vivaldi. I also think some Beck fans will like any idea that he cooks up, due to their level of fandom. I also think, as others have mentioned, that the sheet music/songbook would work far better as a companion piece to an ACTUAL album. Ultimately, Beck is a relatively skilled recording artist rather than composer.

I totally agree that there's a difference between being a composer, and being a recording artist like Beck.

#42 sasquatch was eating a burrito

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 08:05 AM



I am amazed at the general negative reaction to this. Everyone does realize that sheet music is actually the original way music was put out, right? Its not like Vivaldi was dropping 180g vinyl with an mp3 download code. The original idea behind the production of music was to create a piece that could be played (and interpreted) by others. Entertainment was interactive. Even early recorded music was mostly taking a popular written song and recording it. And re-recording it. I agree that this is a bit out of left field, but the reaction I am hearing sounds like people would have preferred to have an album of him farting because then they could hear the "greatness of beck and his original sounds" to this project of sheet music. I think its weird and fun and crazy. I am glad he did it and look forward to getting it.


Beck is no Vivaldi. I also think some Beck fans will like any idea that he cooks up, due to their level of fandom. I also think, as others have mentioned, that the sheet music/songbook would work far better as a companion piece to an ACTUAL album. Ultimately, Beck is a relatively skilled recording artist rather than composer.

I totally agree that there's a difference between being a composer, and being a recording artist like Beck.

I'm gonna have to agree with Jack on this one. I think it's funny that many Beck fans are criticized for loving everything Beck does, yet just as many seem to be greedy bastards that are never satisfied with what they are given. Have we forgotten how much music he has put out in the last year/ year+? I try to appreciate the fact that he has no obligation to release anything anymore if he doesn't want to, but still chooses to.
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#43 Broken Record

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 11:52 AM

Ok...

To me, this is almost as if Beck went into a different art medium.
If Beck opened an art gallery full of his own drawings would I think it's cool? Sure. Would I be as excited as if he was coming out with new album? No.

So while I am fully supportive of this very cool, innovative idea, I can't consider it "a new album" unless Beck himself records it. The fan versions will be an interesting experiment in what people will come up with without a predefined template of the arrangement, but that is all it will be: an interesting experiment.

I've been playing guitar for 13 years, but I can't read music, so I can't make much of this. I see that the chords are listed, but I have no idea what the tempo or time signature is (I know that technically the time signature should be listed, but I don't know how to interpret anything more complex than 4/4 time). Moreover, I don't know the melody of the phrasing of the lyrics...is everyone supposed to come up with their own?

So basically, given my skills, you might as well give me just a chord progression and some lyrics, the rest is meaningless. I think lack of musical ability will discourage a lot of people, myself included, from getting this.

Nonetheless, I hope this generates enthusiasm among semi-professional musicians and skilled amateurs and that, perhaps, a Beck version of these songs will eventually emerge.
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#44 corny rex

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 02:48 PM

There was an interesting discussion on the Ween forum about this idea of Beck’s reaching a Flaming Lips-like level of gimmickry. This is how I view it: a gimmick. A lot of people are excited, apparently love the idea. And yes, Beck does not owe us anything, but I fear that the emperor has been without clothes for quite some time now.

#45 Beckany

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 10:34 PM

"His next venture: a restaurant with no food, just recipes." -- Bill Robinson

#46 sasquatch was eating a burrito

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Posted 10 August 2012 - 10:49 PM

I can't imagine that the song book is being released as a gimmick, as Beck already has a decent (if not greater) following. I have no inside information and I cannot know his motives but one has to ask oneself "Why would he be doing this as a gimmick?"
I think it's reasonable to assume that most of us like Beck not only for his music but for his unconventional, unpredictable way of going about doing things. The fact that we are only now seeing him do things like this after nearly 20 years of releasing music on a label is actually more surprising to me.
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#47 outcomeunpredictable

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Posted 11 August 2012 - 02:04 AM

Though Max's version is by far superior, here's the version I made! http://soundcloud.co...ble/do-we-we-do
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#48 tebe2k

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 12:28 AM

This is crazeeey! I really like the idea of a Beck album on paper, existing only theoretically, as only a virtual point of reference. Haha!

I can see why this might be disappointing for some (me included). I also want to hear a Beck album of a classical format. But he's pushing the envelope with this, radically. I wonder what impact will it have on the music industry we know. Maybe new times are ahead of us.


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#49 tebe2k

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 12:30 AM

I can't imagine that the song book is being released as a gimmick, as Beck already has a decent (if not greater) following. I have no inside information and I cannot know his motives but one has to ask oneself "Why would he be doing this as a gimmick?"
I think it's reasonable to assume that most of us like Beck not only for his music but for his unconventional, unpredictable way of going about doing things. The fact that we are only now seeing him do things like this after nearly 20 years of releasing music on a label is actually more surprising to me.


Amazon.com says that this book was 15 years in the making, so it could essentially be a career retrospective of his writing style in a sense. Also, that makes it seem more like a labor of love than a gimmick.

This is at least new material. If anyone wants to talk gimmicks, what about Information Deluxe, Guero Deluxe, Sea Change Deluxe, Odeluxe

I say, Hooray (and that I bought all those Deluxes!)

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#50 Dr. Freak

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 04:05 AM

Reading the "gimmick" accusations made me wonder what actually separates a gimmick from a genuine innovation. What is a gimmick?

An unsuccessful innovation will always retroactively look like a gimmick, unlike an alternative project that changes the coordinates of the field (industry in this case) - it creates a new "world". Of course, this Song Reader idea looks like a gimmick viewed from the oversaturated, apathetic cultural predicament we are in. In which everything trying to break out will be destroyed by either being condemned as a worthless thing, "trying too hard" or our beloved "gimmick" or by, on a more radical level, recuperating them into the system and making them part of it by accepting them - turning them against themselves (this happened to art movements from Dada to Fluxus and beyond), while "different" things still flirting with the old coordinates will be hailed as the new Kings, classics, "true" innovations. Isn't a real innovation and a "gimmick" one an the same thing, viewed from different "worlds"?

Truth is - we don't a have another "world" outside the old order. So the pessimistic conclusion is that it is impossible to break out.

But what if we risk to imagine a different "world"? A world the Song Reader is possibly struggling to create and view this Song Reader from this "(POSSIBLY) New world's (MAYBE) yet to come" perspective.

A risk. Nothing is certain but only then it has a chance.

(Sorry for my ramblings)

#51 calamity

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 01:55 PM

To me, gimmick invokes a negative connotation. It's something that's used as a marketing ploy, causing people to wake up and pay attention but it's done solely to sell a product without having much to do with the product (i.e. those ridiculous blue mountains that show up on the can when your coors is cold. Completely unnecessary & doesn't add anything of real substance or make the product better.)

So, to some, sheet music is just a gimmick. But they're obviously not the target audience. Just as I am not who coors is selling to.

To others , sheet music enhances the product or gives it a new or different angle. It shakes people's expectations. Some people will buy it solely because it's so different and I imagine a chunk of those people maybe wouldn't have picked up a new beck cd or mp3.

I have more to say but i'm on my phone making it kinda hard to write and edit. To be continued...

#52 Gueralita

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 03:13 PM

Some people will buy it solely because it's so different and I imagine a chunk of those people maybe wouldn't have picked up a new beck cd or mp3.

Yessss, I agree. NPR posted something about the song reader on their Tumblr page, and it got over 13,000 notes*. Just a quick scroll through the replies and I see that people who don't listen to Beck are taking an interest in this project.

*For those of you who don't use Tumblr, a 'note' is a reblog, a like, or a comment type thing. 13,000 is a lot of notes. :ThumbUp:

#53 corny rex

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 05:27 PM

Per usual, Beck is going to divide people fifty-fifty. But there are some of you who are going to love what Beck does, regardless of what that might be, which is just silly.

#54 corny rex

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 05:28 PM

To me, gimmick invokes a negative connotation. It's something that's used as a marketing ploy, causing people to wake up and pay attention but it's done solely to sell a product without having much to do with the product (i.e. those ridiculous blue mountains that show up on the can when your coors is cold. Completely unnecessary & doesn't add anything of real substance or make the product better.)

So, to some, sheet music is just a gimmick. But they're obviously not the target audience. Just as I am not who coors is selling to.

To others , sheet music enhances the product or gives it a new or different angle. It shakes people's expectations. Some people will buy it solely because it's so different and I imagine a chunk of those people maybe wouldn't have picked up a new beck cd or mp3.

I have more to say but i'm on my phone making it kinda hard to write and edit. To be continued...


Judging by the covers, Beck isn’t much of a composer, he is a recording artist and therefore, working in the wrong medium.

#55 mellow

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 05:58 PM

Per usual, Beck is going to divide people fifty-fifty. But there are some of you who are going to love what Beck does, regardless of what that might be, which is just silly.


beck is my favorite. regardless of if i agree with him all the time.

always will be my favoritve. has been for a long time.
its not going to change.

we'll see how this goes. this is far from my favorite beck moment.
i cant keep up with this. ill check in on news and whiskeyclone.
and hear the covers if they find a way to me. i guess make an album of the best ones.
maybe make another. idk. lol. its crazy. i have 8 cd's of nothing but mixed bizness remixes for example.

and number 9. ok i had to stop you know. i am a super fan but.... yea
this hasnt even been released yet either.
im not going to jump the gun. of course i would rather have a real album with beck.

than this. but this is still new and not even released either
well see how it goes. ill guess we'll have good covers and bad ones.
and Too many to keep track of maybe. and ones we will never even hear.

to tell the true ive liked at least 75% of what has done (at least. maybe a higher number)
and thats honest as well. im not going say for example. that ive heard guerolito 100+ times or something.
no. i cant say that.

screw it. i'll be bold. imo beck has a better catalog than at least 50% of the "major acts" ever, ever.
he does imo. no doubt about it. we have also put over acts that have done far less than he has.
etc etc etc.
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#56 jackinthebox

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 06:33 PM


To me, gimmick invokes a negative connotation. It's something that's used as a marketing ploy, causing people to wake up and pay attention but it's done solely to sell a product without having much to do with the product (i.e. those ridiculous blue mountains that show up on the can when your coors is cold. Completely unnecessary & doesn't add anything of real substance or make the product better.)

So, to some, sheet music is just a gimmick. But they're obviously not the target audience. Just as I am not who coors is selling to.

To others , sheet music enhances the product or gives it a new or different angle. It shakes people's expectations. Some people will buy it solely because it's so different and I imagine a chunk of those people maybe wouldn't have picked up a new beck cd or mp3.

I have more to say but i'm on my phone making it kinda hard to write and edit. To be continued...


Judging by the covers, Beck isn’t much of a composer, he is a recording artist and therefore, working in the wrong medium.

Good call. People should only be allowed to do one thing. Even if they can do something else, they just shouldn't. Its the principle of the thing really. Donald Glover was an actor first. Ergo, he should not record music. Its the wrong medium. Bill Clinton was a politician, so he should stop working for non-profits. Wrong medium. And Frank Lloyd Wright had no right (or wright?) to dabble in the creation of furniture and interior design. His medium was buildings and anything beyond that is just plain sacrilege.

Also, I guess I should burn my copy of Playing with Matches. Fluxus art is the wrong medium for Beck. Also, the albums of Thurston Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stephen Malkmus, etc. should be un-recorded (where is Dr. Who when you need him?). Beck is a recording artist. Not a producer. Wrong medium.

You are indeed insightful to the uni-dimensional nature of human beings. I guess since my first job was a garbage man, I should stop my current job.
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#57 corny rex

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 06:41 PM



To me, gimmick invokes a negative connotation. It's something that's used as a marketing ploy, causing people to wake up and pay attention but it's done solely to sell a product without having much to do with the product (i.e. those ridiculous blue mountains that show up on the can when your coors is cold. Completely unnecessary & doesn't add anything of real substance or make the product better.)

So, to some, sheet music is just a gimmick. But they're obviously not the target audience. Just as I am not who coors is selling to.

To others , sheet music enhances the product or gives it a new or different angle. It shakes people's expectations. Some people will buy it solely because it's so different and I imagine a chunk of those people maybe wouldn't have picked up a new beck cd or mp3.

I have more to say but i'm on my phone making it kinda hard to write and edit. To be continued...


Judging by the covers, Beck isn’t much of a composer, he is a recording artist and therefore, working in the wrong medium.

Good call. People should only be allowed to do one thing. Even if they can do something else, they just shouldn't. Its the principle of the thing really. Donald Glover was an actor first. Ergo, he should not record music. Its the wrong medium. Bill Clinton was a politician, so he should stop working for non-profits. Wrong medium. And Frank Lloyd Wright had no right (or wright?) to dabble in the creation of furniture and interior design. His medium was buildings and anything beyond that is just plain sacrilege.

Also, I guess I should burn my copy of Playing with Matches. Fluxus art is the wrong medium for Beck. Also, the albums of Thurston Moore, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stephen Malkmus, etc. should be un-recorded (where is Dr. Who when you need him?). Beck is a recording artist. Not a producer. Wrong medium.

You are indeed insightful to the uni-dimensional nature of human beings. I guess since my first job was a garbage man, I should stop my current job.


You have given me an emotional response rather than an intellectual one. Nice try, though! Why bother replying at all?

#58 calamity

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:37 PM

Judging by the covers, Beck isn’t much of a composer, he is a recording artist and therefore, working in the wrong medium.


Uh, so we've only seen the preview of one page of one of the 20 songs, right? You have to agree that's that is bit of a snap judgement and, might I say, an emotional response.

Or did I miss something?

#59 Iro

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 07:39 PM

You have given me an emotional response rather than an intellectual one. Nice try, though! Why bother replying at all?

To be fair, your assessment was far from what I would deem intellectual.

#60 Beckany

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Posted 12 August 2012 - 08:00 PM

I feel bad because I can only imagine how this sounded in his head. "Audience interaction! A classic medium! No wrestling with technology! Yeah!" but to a lot of people it came out as "Record your own damn album" or worse, "I'm too hipster for this format," neither of which I believe were the intention. I also acknowledge that Beck just got out of a very long contract without much wiggle room in terms of innovation and has kept himself quite busy doing other things like producing, covering, and contributing to the occasional compilation. So it follows that he would want to make a bold career move--not merely a style change like he has in the past but a format one. Understandable and commendable. I thought Sound Shapes was a move in the right direction: a new medium, simple and editable, and best of all, recorded by Beck. (Plus the songs are kickin'!) And there is a very good chance he'll play the Song Reader songs on a tour, but still...I want to hear Beck's versions. Not to wax philosophic, but to me, an album recorded by an artist is a definite marker of an aesthetic, a place in time. If settling for an existing music format seems like a wasted opportunity, then why not release the song reader as a companion piece or something while planning the next big idea and take it from there?

Time will only tell how this turns out. I'm far from excited, but I'll be patient and encouraging of those who do undertake the task of filling in the blanks.




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