Sep 10

Untitled #2 (Instrumentals Question)

FT//8 comments • 319 views

Today’s Guardian column is about song titles, and specifically how the titles on the new Gold Panda album work. Actually it was originally going to be more about the titles and less about the Panda, but in the end the specifics took the piece over – and that’s for the best: who wants to read me wittering on about titling strategy when they could be hearing about a really good new record?

Joe Tangari came up with a breakdown of song title strategies on his tumblr, and I also really liked Sabina’s points about Villalobos and Autechre.

So I thought I’d throw the floor open to the Freaky Trigger people. Who does instrumental song titles best? What kind of titles do you prefer?


  1. 1
    logged-out Tracer Hand on 17 Sep 2010 #

    In the 1990s my rule for techno was: the worse the song title, the better the music. This has changed somewhat, though it still gladdens my heart to see techno singles come out with titles like “Distant Planet” or “Mital Regurgitation”.

  2. 2
    pink champale on 17 Sep 2010 #

    the aphex abstract/unpronounceable/made-up words thing gets on my nerves a bit to be honest (but yeah, “mad sax” is worse!) though i do like the titles people have given to ambient works II songs on p2p sites.

  3. 3
    lonepilgrim on 17 Sep 2010 #

    I like John Fahey’s titles a great deal – they vary in purpose – some refer to a older tune that is referenced; others are more abstract or functional, occasionally they can be quite playful – but they always add another dimension to my engagement with the music. Here’s the tracklist from the 1998 reissue of ‘America’

    “Jesus Is a Dying Bedmaker”
    “Amazing Grace”
    “Song #3” –
    “Special Rider Blues”
    “Jesus Is a Dying Bedmaker 2”
    “Dalhart, Texas, 1967”
    “Knoxville Blues”
    “Mark 1:15”
    “Voice of the Turtle”
    “The Waltz That Carried Us Away and Then a Mosquito Came and Ate Up My Sweetheart”

  4. 4
    Steve Mannion on 17 Sep 2010 #

    I often like Fila Brazillia’s, although some wouldn’t as they are usually silly/surreal/comedic.

    Drexciya’s were great too (Lost Vessel, Bubble Metropolis, Dr. Blowfins’ Black Storm Stabilizing Spheres…), being so wrapped up in their self-cultivated aqualien (not actually alien i just wanted to write that awesome word) mythology. That sci-fi evocation has traditionally appealed on a basic level.

  5. 5
    pink champale on 17 Sep 2010 #

    the song titles from ‘chill out’ are incredibly evocative – this list is a work of art in itself

    Brownsville Turnaround on the Tex-Mex Border
    Pulling out of Ricardo and the Dusk is Falling Fast
    Six Hours to Louisiana, Black Coffee Going Cold
    Dream Time in Lake Jackson
    Elvis on the Radio, Steel Guitar in My Soul
    3am Somewhere out of Beaumont
    Wichita Lineman Was a Song I Once Heard
    The Lights of Baton Rouge Pass By
    A Melody from a Past Life Keeps Pulling Me Back
    Rock Radio into the Nineties and Beyond
    Alone Again with the Dawn Coming Up

  6. 6
    swanstep on 18 Sep 2010 #

    ‘Dull titles can’t hurt good music, but good ones can enhance it’
    This doesn’t make sense. On the (surely reasonable) assumption that musicians want their music to be as good as possible then missing out on an enhancement (say a boost of .2/10 in some overall score) is a form of hurt.

    Did you mean to say something like the following:
    ‘A title can’t turn a good piece of music (>=7) into a bad one (=<3) or a bad piece of music into a good one, but, except in extremal cases, it may make some small difference (+/- .1), e.g., making a solidly good piece slightly better or slightly worse.

  7. 7
    Garry on 19 Sep 2010 #

    I’ve always been fond of Caravan’s “Fear and Loathing in Tollington Park Rag”

    I’ve always been fond of Dub titling – short and snappy . Of course, you can just put the word dub after a random word (Spring Heel Jack’s “Masquerade Dub” for instance), but there can be lots of fine word play or hints at alliteration. I like Dry and Heavy’s “Rumble Dub”

  8. 8
    snuh on 21 Sep 2010 #

    The tracklist of 1-Speed Bike’s “Limp Penis” mini album:

    1. When I Was 12 I Used To Skip School
    2. Just So I Could Masturbate All Day Long
    3. I Used To Think About This Girl At My School
    4. When I Was 20 She Took Me Home
    5. But I Couldn’t Get It Up

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