Karen’s questions #3: The Agony and Ecstasy of Analysis

“3) I’m glad to see someone has the interest and the analytical skills to dissect the music we all love. I’d like to do the same albeit from a psychological standpoint but frankly, I’m fearful of breaking the inherent mystery that’s so attractive to this medium.

Cheers, Karen”

– These comments from Karen certainly set some thoughts in motion for me: the vivisection of music, the psychoanalysis inherent in music-analysis, and the mystery of music. To be sure, I have often agonized over what it means to analyze (pull-apart) or even worse, perform vivisection on music. Though I enjoy zooming in on certain aspects of a song, and even find it helpful in my understanding not only of the music but also of myself, I am painfully aware that whatever I (or any music-analyst) come up with will never, ever be able to encapsulate in its entirety my total experience with music such as Interpol’s. I think this feeling of incompleteness ties into my inability to ever have complete knowledge of all that is going on in my consciousness when I listen to a song.

– And yet, as Karen and as other Interpol fans have said, we are glad to see Interpol’s music being treated this way, and I think we are glad because it means something we love is being taken seriously. Their songs do not feel like simple pop songs, but rather feel like complex and “organic” (as Daniel loves to say) entities, complete much in the way we feel a human being is complete. And just as a psychoanalyst strives to cognize and describe in words the complex human mind, aware that s/he will never fully understand what is going on in that mind, so music-analysts (many of whom draw on some sort of music theory for their descriptions) strive to cognize and describe in words the complex human creation that we call music. For me, much of this strife involves asking myself the question, “how does that [music] make you feel?”

– At the end of the day, Interpol are creating music, and that creation process is a long and arduous one; or so I gather from their interviews. The interviewer will ask “how was your break in between finishing touring for Antics and the release of OLTA?” and invariably one of them will say “well, we had 3 months off, and then went straight back to work.” I think this is where the mystery that Karen mentioned starts. How is it that this kind of sweat-of-the-brow, hours-long work suddenly produces an independent entity that seems to take on a life of its own? And how is it that this entity, this song, can make us feel and react in certain ways?

– Many thanks again, Karen, for your questions/observations, as they provided most satisfyingly food for thought!

Up next: a fan asks “what is your opinion of Carlos’ orchestrations?”

Until then,

Much love from,



~ by megwilhoite on January 17, 2008.

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