Thursday, 20 November 2008

Palin Song

I only just discovered this youtube video yesterday but was astounded by it. I don't interpret it as a satire on Palin - it's a musical exercise that could have been done on anyone, but Pailn was a good subject for it.

The pianist mimics her voice with their right hand and applies chords with the left hand - thus bringing out the inherent musicality to the spoken voice. This isn't actually a new idea, I remember one of my music lecturers doing this to a Woody Allen monologue about 10 years ago. Plus in the 1950s, Harry Partch mimicked the intonation of the spoken word with musical intruments.

What Partch did that this clip doesn't is use microtonal intonation, which is closer to the sound of spoken word. Basically, microtones are the little notes that you get inbetween the 12-tones on a common western scale. The 12-tone system, as I understand was developed by Pythagoras in ancient Greece and continues to dominate today - sadly. You could have 100 notes in an octave if you wanted, just with much smaller intervals than the semitone.

So what the pianist does here is approximate Palin's vocal pitch to the nearest note in the 12 tone scale. It's a brilliant rhythm and melody.


Karen said...

You know, I don't see that film as a satire either, which is the scary thing. Why does Palin lend herself so well to satire that even a take on her which ISN'T satire is placed in the satirical arena? Ian Hislop said on Question Time a few weeks ago that Sarah Palin was the sexiest woman to enter into politics in a long time - then immediately realised the faux pas he had made and retracted. Sarah Palin IS attractive and i bet if i asked you to tell me what she said in that film, you wouldn't be able to! ;) She is almost like the awkward but cute girl in the classroom who gets her braids tugged by the boys. If Sarah Palin was so irrelevant, we would have forgotten her by now. Aren't there any more American women out there who actually have some sound policies?

Paul Taberham said...

I suspect it feels like a satire because she's become a figure of ridicule. Same with Bush - just hold up a photo of him and people will assume that you're looking at him like he's an idiot.

Hilary Clinton would have been a perfectly good President, and most likely would have beaten McCain as well - she could have been a good political role model for women, but I guess that wasn't meant to be this time...