Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

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York Minster
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Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#1 Post by York Minster »

Outside of the occassional Drico post, this forum isn't overly intellectual. But I'd like to see if we could come some way to establish what us, the listeners really experience subjectively, phenomenolgically, semiotically, emotionally when we experience Pet Shop Boys music, and discuss how the music can relate to the context of where and when it is playing.

Some ways we could start moving towards this goal:

Pick one of your favorite PSB tracks, one that is filled with emotion and/or meaning for you. Listen to the song again, and break it up in your mind. What are the connotations of the individual parts? These connotations could have cultural or personal meanings, or maybe it's just purely musical. For instance, maybe you just have a preference for the bells behind the chorus of Was That What It Was?, or perhaps the horns in Metamorphosis represent gay expression, or perhaps the haunting intro to For Your Own Good reminds you of an urban landscape at night. Talk about as many parts of the music as possible. But also talk about the Gestalt whole, what the whole piece means as it plays at once, outside of the individual parts, and maybe how the individual parts and the whole interact.

You could also discuss the cultural and media applications of your song of choice. Is it filmic? If placed over video, what could the song help represent? For instance, you could discuss the propelling rhythm track of Being Boring and it's meaning when paired with the Bruce Weber video. You can also think more creatively. For instance, how a song like More Than A Dream could work for an Obama rally, and how it accomplishes this sucessfully. Songs can also be "timepieces". Perhaps It's A Sin represents as a whole a certain time period, around 1987 in your mind. It could represent that for you personally, but in the case of such a popular song, it also is more of a cultural property.

These are just suggestions on how to get started talking about the meaning of the songs we love. There is much discussion of I like this, I don't like this, but lets dig a little deeper for a bit.
And tryin' to figure out what happened to 'Germaine Propaine'
"He couldn't have fell off that hard" Ain't no way
"What happened to the way you was rappin' when you was scandalous
That Canibus turned into a television evangelist"
Plus he raps with his regular voice [BOOSH! BOOSH!]
[BOOSH! BOOSH!] (What was that?) Pet Shop Boys

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#2 Post by Ghost within this house »

I went to a quiz night the other day. The final question was: 'What is a tyrosemiophilist?'

I knew the answer. Benefits of a classical education.

Sorry. Do carry on.
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Patrick Bateman
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#3 Post by Patrick Bateman »

Scapa Flow wrote:Outside of the occassional Drico post, this forum isn't overly intellectual.
You obviously weren't around for the Word Whomp game.

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#4 Post by Undertaker »

I stopped reading after the first sentence. There is nothing worse than people trying to sound intelligent.

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#5 Post by seriously »

One thing is far worse: intellectophobia.
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#6 Post by York Minster »

Undertaker wrote:I stopped reading after the first sentence. There is nothing worse than people trying to sound intelligent.
You stopped reading after "Outside of the occassional Drico post, this forum isn't overly intellectual"?

Anyway, if you actually read my post, I explain everything I say. And I use alternate words for what I'm saying. Not trying to be hi-fallutin. I'm sure most here know I'm not that kind of person. If you read something I say, and you can't make heads or tails, please ask for clarification. And if you don't know what a word like semiotics means, google is only a click away. I look up strange britishisms all the time.
And tryin' to figure out what happened to 'Germaine Propaine'
"He couldn't have fell off that hard" Ain't no way
"What happened to the way you was rappin' when you was scandalous
That Canibus turned into a television evangelist"
Plus he raps with his regular voice [BOOSH! BOOSH!]
[BOOSH! BOOSH!] (What was that?) Pet Shop Boys

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#7 Post by York Minster »

seriously wrote:One thing is far worse: intellectophobia.
:clap:
And tryin' to figure out what happened to 'Germaine Propaine'
"He couldn't have fell off that hard" Ain't no way
"What happened to the way you was rappin' when you was scandalous
That Canibus turned into a television evangelist"
Plus he raps with his regular voice [BOOSH! BOOSH!]
[BOOSH! BOOSH!] (What was that?) Pet Shop Boys

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#8 Post by Radiophonic »

I like Cris cos he iz fit, man.
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#9 Post by skyhigh »

Scapa Flow wrote:Outside of the occassional Drico post, this forum isn't overly intellectual.
Conscious effort to remain in the realms of Smash Hits?
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#10 Post by Sandy Shaw »

Scapa Flow wrote:Outside of the occassional Drico post, this forum isn't overly intellectual. But I'd like to see if we could come some way to establish what us, the listeners really experience subjectively, phenomenolgically, semiotically, emotionally when we experience Pet Shop Boys music, and discuss how the music can relate to the context of where and when it is playing.
Shouldn't that be 'we, the listeners...'
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#11 Post by Sandy Shaw »

Sorry, double post.
Last edited by Sandy Shaw on Thu 20 Jan 2011, 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#12 Post by rollo »

Scapa Flow wrote:Anyway, if you actually read my post, I explain everything I say. And I use alternate words for what I'm saying. Not trying to be hi-fallutin. I'm sure most here know I'm not that kind of person. If you read something I say, and you can't make heads or tails, please ask for clarification. And if you don't know what a word like semiotics means, google is only a click away. I look up strange britishisms all the time.
It always amuses me when PSB fans fail to spot irony! Anyway, you'll find that Brits get very suspicious when they hear long words, particularly from Americans (sorry!)

For my part, I think you misused the word 'Gestalt', and I'm completely stumped by your use of 'phenomenologically'. 'Semiotically' possibly makes sense, assuming you mean the linguistic definition. (Admittedly it would help if I had an OED to hand.)

... and yes, it should be "we, the listeners"! ;)
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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#13 Post by York Minster »

rollo wrote:
Scapa Flow wrote:Anyway, if you actually read my post, I explain everything I say. And I use alternate words for what I'm saying. Not trying to be hi-fallutin. I'm sure most here know I'm not that kind of person. If you read something I say, and you can't make heads or tails, please ask for clarification. And if you don't know what a word like semiotics means, google is only a click away. I look up strange britishisms all the time.
It always amuses me when PSB fans fail to spot irony! Anyway, you'll find that Brits get very suspicious when they hear long words, particularly from Americans (sorry!)

For my part, I think you misused the word 'Gestalt', and I'm completely stumped by your use of 'phenomenologically'. 'Semiotically' possibly makes sense, assuming you mean the linguistic definition. (Admittedly it would help if I had an OED to hand.)

... and yes, it should be "we, the listeners"! ;)
How did I not spot irony if he is actually suspicious? Anyway, it's always tough to understand what people mean when it's just typing, even if people are from your own culture. There are no bodily or vocal cues. As for those words in question: Semiotics refers to what the "signs" of the music mean, for instance, when you hear the intro to It's A Sin, what does that thundering intro of a sign point to for you? What does it signify? As for phenomenology, it means our own subjective experience, which is why I also used the word subjective. It means the way the music is presented to us in our head. It's not actually anything really complicated. Gestalt means that the whole works in a way that is more than the sum of its parts.

I'm sorry that this post is a bit too much for people here. I gave it a try.

And I am not an expert writer, I have never claimed to be. Just because I use a word you don't know doesn't mean my grammer must therefore be perfect. I'm also a poor spallor. The point of writing is to get your point accross. If I say "She my sister", you understand it just as well as "She is my sister". They are equally valid.
And tryin' to figure out what happened to 'Germaine Propaine'
"He couldn't have fell off that hard" Ain't no way
"What happened to the way you was rappin' when you was scandalous
That Canibus turned into a television evangelist"
Plus he raps with his regular voice [BOOSH! BOOSH!]
[BOOSH! BOOSH!] (What was that?) Pet Shop Boys

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#14 Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,

What is semiology?

Is it the study of semi-ons?

:|

Retro. :)

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Re: Towards a Semiology of Pet Shop Boys Musicality

#15 Post by Patrick Bateman »



Left to my own devices is perfectly situated between imperial and cult PSB. I remember Smash Hits commenting that grandmothers wouldn't have a clue what was going on (as they had with Always on my mind) and it was unlikely to be their second successive Christmas number one. They were right of course, and Christmas Cliff eased into the boys' slot. I always associate Left to my own devices with buying the cassette of Introspective during my lunch break, walking back across the rugby pitch through the autumnal mulch, and studying the rather garish inner sleeve. Perhaps this is the place I waited years to leave? Nah.

Although Domino dancing is my favourite PSB single ever, it is certainly Left to my own devices that is Introspective's signature track. I consider that album to be their imperial monument for it was created at their commercial peak, and it is the legacy of their pop dominion. And so just as Rihanna will leave the impress of her pert bottom to the ages, PSB left a classical-house epic which hymns the mundane. What I especially love about Neil's lyric is that he is intoning the listener's thoughts and actions, even in this most autobiographical of songs. One can drink one's tea as one listens to the track, flicking through a travel brochure or musing upon the overthrow of kings and governments. In fact one could argue that this is the track in which the PSB fan is most clearly inculcated into the PSB world, and therefore only the most dedicated of grandmothers can enter its esoterica.

And yet it is also the PSB single that sounds best on the radio, and this must be because it's the most idiosyncratic PSB single too; one which rejects the universalism of an emotion (I love you/You pay my rent) or a place (In every city/In every nation) in favour of introspection and solipsism. It's a song which continually approaches the external, only to hold back: if I learn to drive, I can beat the rest; if I stick with the gang, then I will belong. This is most clearly delineated in the chorus: if I was left to my own devices, I could probably love you; i.e. paradoxically only if I was left alone could I ever contemplate being with you. And so in its final triumphant flourish, Left to my own devices disassociates itself from the world which envelops it even as it acknowledges its presence. And this is PSB's relationship with pop music.

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