Stupid question: What does cheesy mean?
I'm trying to learn the lingo, eg, what different style-names mean. Every now and then I come across expressions like "cheesy melodies" or cheesy sounding drums. Does cheesy imply a stylish (bad) thing or is it only that it sounds plain bad?
I feel well qualified to answer this one having been one of the founders of the "Big Cheese All Stars" (signed to "Le Fromage" label).
Cheese is definitely stylistic in nature, IMO. If something is just plain bad it is generally referred to as "Shit" or "shitty". I would never have founded a band called "The Big Shit All Stars" (and I wouldn't have signed to a label called "la Merde" either). I don't think???
Barry White is "cheesy", so is Tom Jones. I love one but can't stand the other, so IMO there's no fixed rule that says cheese is either bad or good.
I think the best use of cheese is as a light spread, for example a cheesy lyric and melody will be more palateable if it is spread lightly over the top of down and dirty drum and bass parts (Barry white for example), but gets hard to swallow when the whole production is cheesy from a to z (Tom Jones).
Most people would not agree with me, however. Cheese is generally regarded as a BAD thing, & the opposite of "hardcore". They will tell you that if you are cheesy, you are definitely not "keeping it real".
Keeping it real??? compared to what???
I have found that it is extremely valuable to know the effect of well timed cheese.
If you try to pick up a girl with a cheap line and she tells you that you are a cheesy fuc**r, you have not necessarily blown it. Au contraire; If you let her know that YES you are cheesy, but that you understand that cheese is but a light spread covering something down and dirty, you will be "making lurve" (which is cheesy shagging) within minutes!!!
Don't believe me? Ask any Frenchman =)
This helped (and was a fun read)!
Thanks for your answer. It really helped me on my quest to learn some of the lingo. (I played some Barry White tunes I happened to have in iTunes to see if I get it. It gives me a hunch about what it means, but perhaps there are other examples where the cheese is somewhat more thinly spread and thus easier to point out from the non-cheesy stuff (bread?))
Anyhow, thanks for your illuminating and enjoyable answer!
: perhaps there are other examples where the cheese is somewhat more thinly spread and thus easier to point out from the non-cheesy stuff
Or perhaps it will help if I tell you that the most extreme cheese is generally to be found in hotel lobbies/elevators. As an educational exercise I would strongly recommend you go stand inside the entrance of your local Hilton.
Do you hear that...Music designed to be so bland and inoffensive that no-one will ever complain about it (or even notice it), but which ends up making you feel the same way as gold bathroom fittings, ceiling mirrors and carpeted walls.
You see:"cheesiness" is not exclusive to music. It is that moment where sophistication becomes utter mindnumbing blandness, and once you start looking you will find it everywhere.
My Top 10 Cheesemeisters:
1. Lionel Ritchie (when dancing on the ceiling. Not during his very early commodores days - Machine gun is bizarrely one of the funkiest albums of all time).
2. Richard Clayderman. (you ladykiller, you)
3. Peter Stringfellow (like I said cheese is not an exclusively musical phenomenon)
4. Renee & Renato (save your love my darleeng save your......gack)
5. Liberaci (almost too interesting to be truly cheesy, but he could spread it on pretty thick).
6. Hugh Hefner (those embroidered gold slippers...mama!)
7. The entire cast of Dynasty (with the possible exception of that bitch Joan Collins who is not so much cheesy as...well...a bitch).
8. Brotherhood of man (eurocheese)
9. Torvill & Dean/Ice skaters' outfits (satin, sequins and crotch stuffing).
10. George Michael (sorry George but I saw "club tropicana on VH-1 the other day, so you snuck in there at no. 10).
Now you may notice that all the people on this list are either extremely gay, or extremely oversexed, so you might well infer that there is a strong correlation between cheese and sexual hyperactivity. However it's not my role to judge, but to inform, so I will leave you to mull that one over for yourself.
Now get back to work
Re: elevator cheese
:I'm getting your elaborations on cheese. They are, as most of your posts a fun and nice read.
Yet, your 10 cheesemeisters list do not really touch my true concerns, though. I'll try to be honest (and thus expose some of concerns and naivities as regards coming to grips with cheese.... Pleaze bear with me although this post might appear disorganised, (and perhaps boring) etc.
OK. So I read this post on Bassid's mp3 site that he makes trance with melodies but avoiding cheesiness (or something like that). Trance is not really the household music at my place, but I happened to like several of his tunes (they are really good if you want to do some serious wordprocessing, which is essentially what my job is).
Anyow this was one of the things that got me into this cheese inquiry. When I play with reason I very often come up with the naivest of melodies, and sometimes I'm happy with them and sometimes they make the whole piece just lame. So then I started to think (with the Bassid line in mind): is this getting cheesy (in a bad way....)? How can I balance those naive melodies (&basslines) with other stuff to not make the whole thing stink. (That was why I previously wondered for lightspread nice cheese. Hopefully I'm not even remotely as cheesy as the top 10 you nicely provided.)
Then again, elevator music. Is it all cheesiness? Isn't it also an issue of becoming completely unobtrusive.... (For instance, some of the Brian Eno ambient stuff I really like, like Music for Airports would be great unobtrusive elevator music. But I can not hear any sexual hyperactivity there).
Now. What happens is I'm in a brooding mood as concerns my Reason endevours. I have one almost finished tune, where I think the naive melody is nicely balanced against other stuff producing some grain (thin spread cheese?) And another one with a funky groove which I do not seem to be able to progress (too good to just trash, difficult to add a melody that does not push the whole thing inte lameness/cheesiness. (What actually happens is that I get a huge rack of instruments which I try out to try to get away out of what might be a cul-de-sac). It would be nice to have a 2nd hand let-out for unfinished stuff.....
So, at the end of it all, my cheese inquiry is intertwined with trying enhance my ability to make tunes I like. (Note I'm a true amateur at that).
Thanks for asking and sorry for my long report on the cheese inquiry
all the best,
Re: elevator cheese
:::I'm not even remotely as cheesy as the top 10 you nicely provided.)
Very few people are, my friend. It's a rare talent
:Then again, elevator music. Is it all cheesiness? Isn't it also an issue of becoming completely unobtrusive....
Yes, as I said when "sophistication" becomes utter mind-numbing blandness. Some "elevator" music is very technically accomplished, but most is terribly corny. A track can be unobtrusive without being cheesy, but if it is also corny it will stink like gorgonzola
:Now. What happens is I'm in a brooding mood as concerns my Reason endevours. I have one almost finished tune, where I think the naive melody is nicely balanced against other stuff producing some grain (thin spread cheese?) And another one with a funky groove which I do not seem to be able to progress (too good to just trash, difficult to add a melody that does not push the whole thing inte lameness/cheesiness.
I hear you , and think I understand. The crux of the matter is that instrumental music is difficult to get away with without being a) a succession of breaks beats and bleeps, or b) melodically cliched.
If I may I will put on my doctor's hat and attempt to diagnose the problem.
Melody should not be considered a seperate entity from the rhythm tracks any more than the brain should be considered a seperate entity from the rest of the body. Unfortunately these are very commonly held perceptions.
A melody should really be the first thing that pops into one's head. Unfortunately the way most people work (especially with progs like Reason) is to start with the Drums, add a pad or bass and a bit of colour and then look for a melody to fit.
This CAN work (and I will give some tips in a minute) but it is not really the best way to work a melody.
IMO Rhythm tracks should SUPPORT a melody rather than the other way round. If you work with a good vocalist it would be limiting to try and force them to fit in with a prearranged rhythm section. Better to adapt the backing to fit them, no?
A melody will be the most noticeable part of any arrangement for most listeners, and it therefore makes sense (to me) that everything else should adapt to fit it.
If you really need to extract a melody from a Rhythm track, however, here are some things I do which might help, or give you some ideas. Hope so anyway....
First of all Solo some parts, and listen carefully
What notes are suggested? in what rhythm, slow, fast? Legato staccato? Pretend you are a singer and see if you can hum a part (your brain is probably quicker than your programing/playing?). Extrapolate from what you are already happy with.
Michaelangelo said that he didn't decide what his sculptures were going to look like, but that they were already contained in the raw stone. His job was to chip away untill he found the shape contained in the stone. I approach music a bit like this, as far as i'm concerned it's already out there, my job is just to find it.
Sometimes a sound source can be the inspiration for a melody, I was working on a malstrom patch the other day which reminded me of the synth on kool & the gang's "summertime", which immediately gave me an idea for a melody. audition lots of new sounds over your rhythm track.
Listen to other tunes you like, analyse what it is about the melody you like, try and emulate it. Don't copy exactly, but emulate...Music is NEVER original, there are only 12 notes (actually that is debatable, but for simplicity's sake) It is a tradition, don't try to be totally original, you will be missing the point and making life real hard for yourself because almost everything has been done by someone..
Basically relax close your eyes listen, hum and see what pops in your head. If nothing, switch off, have a coffee listen to some other music and try again another time.
It would be nice to have a 2nd hand let-out for unfinished stuff.....
Always good to work with others, especially if you are reasonably new to music. do you know a vocalist???
Try to find someone to collaborate with. rns files are a fairly easy way to share ideas.
:So, at the end of it all, my cheese inquiry is intertwined with trying enhance my ability to make tunes I like. (Note I'm a true amateur at that).
None of us were born professional brother, we've all been there. An ear for melody is learned, I don't really believe in divine inspiration. keep at it
You are very to the point.
Yes it is about trying to make instrumental stuff and starting off in the drums/bassline end of things. I will definitely try to sometimes start at other ends before dressing up the thing with beats. etc.
The Michelangelo approach is very true. Yet, it demands some skill with the chisel :) "Doing music is to cultivate patience" to paraphrase a little quote about writing.
Collaborations: No vocaliss available and not the direction I want (I think). But yes, I will definitely try to upload more songs/projects (even some that need some treatment) to get some collaborations going.
On that point: Did you want to dig into/trash/try to cure the funky piece? I can send it to you as rns for your disgression.
To end. I DO enjoy the Mhz etc. discussions on the other board, but they do tend to crowd out important discussions on issues like those you raised in your post.
all the best,
Re: Great post!
::Well I'm truly glad if it helps :-)
:Yes it is about trying to make instrumental stuff and starting off in the drums/bassline end of things. I will definitely try to sometimes start at other ends before dressing up the thing with beats. etc.
Definitely worth trying, just don't be too disappointed if it doesn't work first time. It's definitely not the easiest way to work. But worth trying IMO
:The Michelangelo approach is very true. Yet, it demands some skill with the chisel :)
Yes, but also no (in a zen kind of way). I think it's a question of forgetting about the tool, or perhaps letting the tool work for you rather than trying to work the tool. Of course this requires some practice, as it will be easier to forget about the tool when you know well how to use it.
"Doing music is to cultivate patience" to paraphrase a little quote about writing.
Yes, especially when working with other musicians :-) which brings us to...
:Collaborations: No vocaliss available and not the direction I want (I think). But yes, I will definitely try to upload more songs/projects (even some that need some treatment) to get some collaborations going.
This is my strongest recommendation. I have worked with many many musicians over the years and have learned something from all of them (yes even the "bad" ones). Like I said, for me music is more of a tradition than anything else, everyone has there own bag of musical licks & tricks and working with others can teach you a whole load of things a whole load quicker than playing by yourself.
:On that point: Did you want to dig into/trash/try to cure the funky piece? I can send it to you as rns for your disgression.
Why Not...I promise at the least to give it a listen. If I hear something I can contribute I'll stick it in there. Let's see.
Send it to my e-mail and I'll get back to you. Don't expect a reply too quick though. no e-mail or phone line at home and no sound card (or disc burning) in the office, so I have to get our cpu supervisor to burn it out for me. This will take a few days as I can't hassle him every day, and I just burned a load of stuff yesterday. :-p
:To end. I DO enjoy the Mhz etc. discussions on the other board, but they do tend to crowd out important discussions on issues like those you raised in your post.
I'm with you there. I'm no tech and I'm genuinely happy to have a tool which I can use to throw ideas together in my own time. I have no issues with sound quality (i tend to agree with the garbage in garbage out argument) I have worked in some VERY expensive studios and still needed to spend money mastering. As for the whole mhz thing. I don't have a midi keyboard, & I programme everything, so I don't have latency issues, and anyway I'm on a twin g4 1 ghz with 1.5 gb of ram, so I'm a sick little happy bastard.
Honestly though I'm not sure how many people on the board would even agree with the points I raised. They were addressed pretty much to the question you raised which I could relate to.
I'm glad if they helped
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