Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Modern Soundtrack

Recently, I was asked my impression on the recent trend of using hip hop and contemporary pop music in films like The Great Gatsby and the upcoming Wolf of Wall Street. When I reflected back on the use of this music, I really didn’t have much to say because it hadn’t registered as something to be concerned with. Reactions, like with most new trends/techniques, tend to be polarized. Having seen this musical treatment in previous movies like Moulin Rouge gives it a slight history, but this is the first time that there seems to be such a widespread acknowledgment of it. From what I’ve heard, there tends to be an overall negative take on the contemporary musical treatment. However, this is to be expected and in some cases welcomed as a sign that it is a legitimate road to follow. When it really comes down to it though, it seems pretty ridiculous to pass judgement on such a wide sweeping and general pattern. Yes, Jay Z scored The Great Gatsby, and this is definitely unorthodox considering the setting and history of the story; but it should be understood that each expression must be taken individually. Just as Moulin Rouge’s aesthetic lent itself to such a wide range of modern music, so do the glamorous shots and confident nature of these two newest DiCaprio films. In my opinion, this treatment will work better in The Wolf of Wall Street than in The Great Gatsby, but the factors that play into this are very subjective and require a decision based on personal analysis. Unfortunately, the film makers have to contend with critics that will inevitably negatively target the changes to traditional standards.

The Importance of Competition.

I have often written on the motives or inspirations of the artist as a range that does not include competitiveness. In many cases this view point has been preceded or echoed by others in the humanities. As a concept, it is ideal to picture the artist as being fully charged from within, without the need for some competitive drive. However, human emotion and longing is not only inspired by outside stimuli but driven by the need to compare with others. The expression of the individual reflects the lower nature as well as the higher nature. If you have ever attempted to express yourself creatively, you know that an overwhelmingly large part of the process simply involves waiting for something to stir your consciousness. Sometimes the competitive drive of watching a peer perform can kickstart your intent. This, admittedly, is the weakest of inspirations due to its roots in our base nature (something which is not often related to the humanities) but which simultaneously and beautifully makes art into the encompassing meditation that it is. Struggle is the mother of expression and she is often most powerful between individuals.

The Biophony: Aural Understanding of the Natural World

Often, science (among most other pursuits) focuses on the overt display of visual analysis. Through lists, data tables, graphs and analytic pictures, researchers draw their conclusions. Often the aural aspect of any subject is harder for us to quantify and is thus cast aside as belonging to the subjective side of the human experience. As the modern technological society slowly realizes the devastating impact of noise on human health, Bernie Krause, an eco-acoustician, has studied the impact of human aural evasiveness on wild habitats. What he has found opens a whole other perspective on how we understand the effects of human encroachment on undeveloped land.



Sync from Tyler McGrath on Vimeo.


Check out this amazing short documentary about the relationship between spirituality and music along with some other great shorts at

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