Beck has spoken about the creative process behind his new sheet music project 'Beck Hansen's Song Reader'.
Ever unpredictable, Beck somehow broke new ground for wilful eccentric-ism earlier this year. Rejecting the notion of an album, the American artist decided to piece together new material and release it as a book of sheet music.
Titled 'Beck Hansen's Song Reader' the project immediately caused a stir, with Beck revealing a few more details along the way. The New Yorker was granted an exclusive preview, including an in depth interview with the artist himself.
Of the book itself, Beck emphasised that it should be viewed as an object in itself divorced from the album format. "The songs I would write for one of my own records began to seem less appropriate than songs written in a broader style. At times, I struggled against my own writing instincts—where was the line between the simplistic and the universal, the cliché and the enduring? Classic songs can transcend and transform a cliché, magnifying a well-trodden phrase or sentiment and making it into something elemental. But often that approach descends into banality and platitudes. My appreciation for the ability of songwriters to avoid those pitfalls drove a lot of the writing here; still, I have little idea whether any of these songs managed to find that line. In the right hands, maybe they’ll be able to come a little closer to it."
Continuing, Beck explained that he views the book as the starting point for the reader's own musical journey. "The songs here come with piano arrangements and guitar chords—as well as parts for brass instruments, in one case, and ukulele chords, in others—but personalizing and even ignoring the arrangements is encouraged. Don’t feel beholden to what’s notated. Use any instrument you want to. Change the chords; rephrase the melodies. Keep only the lyrics, if desired. Play it fast or slow, swung or straight. Take a song and make it an instrumental or an a cappella. Play it for friends, or only for yourself. These arrangements are starting-off points; they don’t originate from any definitive recording or performance".
Check out the full version of the article HERE.
Beck is set to release 'Beck Hansen's Song Reader' via McSweeney's in December.