The qualitative analysis of the selected seven songs from the alternative rock band Živé kvety is based on intertextual analysis, from the field of musicology, literature and sociology.
Central music and lyrics analysis interacts with inclusion of non-musical elements, and that is discussion about the city and popular music, analysis of the biography of the selected band, the main sources of inspiration in the work, the situation or the working conditions of the artists. The form of the songs is based on verse – chorus expanded with instrumental introduction, and instrumental section between the repetition of the choruses or verses; harmony scheme is simple, usually on three chords; most of the selected songs are in medium tempo, intercorrelation of rock and indie-folk is typical for the band. Apart from the traditional music analysis (formal, harmonic, rhythmic) and analysis of the lyrics, we have covered and taken into account the manner in which the musicians created the particular piece of music, the impact and the relationship between music, city, political and cultural contexts or changes.
Considering the analysis of the lyrics from the selected seven songs, we came to the conclusion that Lucia Piussi as an author of the lyrics and in the same time a writer used couple of elements which could be found in the analysis of other rock musicians and poets or writers:
figurative language through metaphors; metonyms (the city and friendships, love); allegories (for example, moral and political significance); allusions (indicating some literary pieces or writers).
Theoretical discussions about popular music and cities
From the beginning of the 20th century, with the development of industrialization and commercialization, cities were key space for development and production of popular music. Scholars from popular music studies were and remain interested in popular music as a kind of record in urban life. One important statement is that popular music opens up questions of cities and their social relations that other kinds of investigations and analyses mightnot. (Lashua, Wagg, Spracklen, Yavuz, 2019: 2, 3).Various artists, musicians and scholars have thus taken different paths in attempts to ‘sound out’ the city. According to Laing, popular music often emphasizes hidden meaning, different boundaries and unmapped border crossings (Laing, 2010). Thus, popular music with its distinctive characteristics of diverse subgenres offers uniqueness insights into urban space and social-cultural relations (Lashua, Wagg and Spracklen, 2014: 2).
Many rock or pop songs have associated the city with different approaches as excitement, presenting it as an escape from the restrictions of family and home, as celebration, as a place of fun and endless possibility, as a place of action or hope, forbidden pleasures or uncertainty (Cohen, 2017).
The relationship between art and city has been analysed in urban studies, which are influenced by the philosophy of Henri Lefebvre (Lefebvre, 1991: 38, 39). For him, the process of changing the city space is analysed through capitalism’s devastating restructuring of the landscape and through the everyday negotiations of citizens in their responses to the situation in which they find themselves. Lefebvre defines three ways of thinking about space: spatial practice, representations of space and representational spaces (or spaces of representation). Spatial practice is revealed through the physical and experiential deciphering of space. Representations of space are the conceptualized space of planners, scientists, urbanists, artists etc. that tends towards a system of verbal signs. Representational spaces refer to directly lived through associated images and symbols, and hence as space of inhabitants and users. Representational spaces arealso considered as lived space appropriated of imagination and art that seeks to be described.
The second and third types are more abstract, artistic or imaginative visions and are related to the creation of the sense of place. This means to look for a deep meaning about art creation in urban environment that could be treated on individual experience, collective or as culturally constructed.
We used qualitative approach for this research, choosing the city of Bratislava and its relationship with the search for the sense of place (according to Lefebvre) and music or local alternative rock scene.
This paper considers how particular alternative rock music practices are connected to social, cultural and economic characteristics of the city, and how the city is represented through the music. This involves discussing about the role and significance of alternative rock music within the urban life and why it matters, how and to whomit is addressed. More precisely, this paper is a case study – it explores the city of Bratislava and its alternative rock scene. The research is focused on discovering the types of inspiration from the city, with music and lyrics analysis.
The inductive approach takes the experience of creative music process of one selected band –Živé kvety, as an important point of view of musical, cultural or historical knowledge which could enrich our understanding of the city musical heritage. Also, the process of change in the urban space have had effects upon its music creation and will continue to do so.
Biography of Živé kvety
Živé kvety is Slovak alternative rock band founded in 1994 in Bratislava. That was the period when Slovak popular music scene became more open to the international market based on couple of characteristics such as: Slovak bands penetrate foreign countries; many local, domestic and international festivals appear; private agencies and publishers are established (Kajanová, 2007: 216). From historical point of view, according to Yvetta Kajanová, Bratislava rock subculture in the 1970s and 1980s changed from hard rock to art rock, bans mainly related to punk rock and heavy metal as styles. In the 1990s, the hip hop subculture began to push rock out as a genre, and rock survives mainly due to poly-stylistic connections with other genres (Kajanová, 2019).
The leader of Živé kvety is the singer and writer Lucia Piussi. The story, actually, began with the friendship and mutual interest in music of Piussi and Peter Bálik, then Juraj Mironov came and they felt that it is the real thing. Soon, when they met Agnes Lovecká, the band was complete.
The first self-titled album was published in 2000 for Mediálny inštitút. The next albums were mostly published by Slnko Records. Živé kvety has published the following studio albums: V dobrom aj v zlom 2003, Na mojej ulici 2004, Sloboda 2005, Bez konca 2007, Zlatéčasy 2009, Spúšť 2010, Oľga, ideš svojím tempom! 2012, Nové poschodia 2016. In 2014, the band published the EP Bratislava, where Marián Varga played as guest on Hammond organ. Also, the band promoted couple of live albums: Živé kvety vo Vagóne 2013, Perute: Live v Klube za zrkadlom 2011, 12+1, 2008. The present members of the band are: Lucia Piussi, Peter Bálik, Agnes Lovecká, Juraj Mironov, Jakub Kratochvíl and Michal Lašán. Previously, other members were: Marek Pastier, Martin Šútovec, Michal Šulek and Vlado Mrázko.
Their work relates to the experimental theatre Stoka (Sewer). The theatre was founded in 1991 by the director Blaho Uhlár and the designer Miloš Karásek, who functioned as a collective. Stoka initially worked together with the GUnaGU theatre in the Black Ravens Club in the centre of Bratislava. In January 1992, Stoka moved to Pribina Street, a building belonging to the Bratislava Transport Company. Around the mid-1990s, Stoka faced a problem mainly with a lack of money and more support from the city and the state. Therefore in 1997, a tavern was opened in Stoka, which financed the activities of the theatre. In 2000, the collective broke up. Jozef Chmel, Vlado Zboron, Lubo Burgr, Zuzana Piussi, Ingrid Hrubanic and later LacoKerata left. Blaho Uhlár, Erika Lásková and Lucia Piussi remained the original members. The theatre received new members. In 2006, the Stoka lost its space on Pribina Street and until today it has been working in the Ružinov area in Bratislava. (stoka.sk; https://sk.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divadlo_Stoka).
Some of the albums of Živé kvety, for example Sloboda (Freedom), were partly recorded in Stoka. Considering the comparison between working in the studio and other spaces such as Stoka, Lucia Piussi and Peter Bálik would discuss this topic in an interview in the promotional period for the album Sloboda. For both of them, the combination of working spaces is creative and productive in the process of song creation. For Lucia, the sound in Stoka is rougher, more thoughtful. They wanted to record in a room where they can play live and to capture the atmosphere of particular song. Bálik does not want to spend a lot of time in studio like some bands that work from morning till down. (Marflák, 2007).
Apart fromthe influence of the theatre Stoka, the members of Živé kvety were inspired by local alternative post-punk scene from the 1980s, such as the music and live performances of the band Kosa z nosa, founded in 1987 and active during the 1990s. Although the members of Kosa z nosa were not perfect musicians with good technical skills and abilities, their strong truthful expressiveness inspired the members of Živé kvety (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava). Kosa z nosa is considered to be alternative, post-punk, or alternative poem-rock band with presence of melancholic feeling. (Kralovič, 2010).In the same time, Kosa z nosa described their music as „obyčajné pesničky“ or common songs (Vašica, 2009: 71). Kosa z nosa has never recorded an album which provided them a creation of an urban legend status among the audience or among the next generations of rock or indie musicians.
An important live performance of Kosa z nosa is the one on the playground square Hraničiarov in Petržalka in attended by 50 people, exactly on November 17, 1989 when Velvet Revolution began. When the screams “Václav Havel” and “Charter”sounded among the songs, one listener from the audience called the police, but that was beginning of a new free era. (Kajanová, 2019).
Their repertoire encompasses a song titled Bratislava. Other bands that also dedicated songs or album titles to Bratislava are: alternative rock band Hviezda and Tu v Bratislave (song and album title 2014, Slnce rec.), punk hard-core band Rozpor and song Neďaleko od raja (2018).
Živé kvety changed through the albums, which is a normal process and needs to be done during the creative work. Album Sloboda is more dynamic, while the next one Bez konca is more calm. Bálik comments the songs or album records and their lives. So, every album is different. Bez konca is calm, because each of the musicians dug a lot of things and when a person is fighting with something, he/she has no need to dance and enjoy. They received different responses from the audience or friends which also gave them a better sense or meaning of their work (Marflák, 2007).
The music style of Živé kvety is described by journalists and critics as rock, alternative, folk rock. Živé kvety is mostly active with live concerts in Slovakia and Czech Republic. In 2011 the band took part in the release of DVD Tribute to Václav Havel (DVD Pocta Václavu Havlovi). In an interview for the Czech magazine Deník, Lucia commented that Havel has been living humanism and idealism, he personified what was very close to them. He was the president who loved rock and roll. He is incomparable to the apparatuses that rule in politicsat the moment. (Peltán 2012). In the same interview, the journalist Peltán asks Lucia if the new book for that period Život je krátký (Life is Short) is connected with Kafka’s Prague. Lucia answered that she loves Prague, the concerts are a great joy there, but it’s still her capital. (Peltán, 2012). This attitude expresses the transregional connections and latter from the 1990s translocal influences, translocal music communications among the citizens of the former socialist or communist states. There was a same situation with the types of music communications between the participants in rock or indie scene on the territory of the former Yugoslavia (Papazova, 2017: 112, 114).
The independence during music creation is important for the ethos of the members of Živé kvety. They were born in the theatre Stoka with the belief that they want to be independent and not popular. They consider popularity as “a journey to hell”. From the beginning, they wanted people to find them through the songs. Their songs are having three chords, but to make simple creations for Lucia is not an easy task (Sudor, 2019).
In this context, in a review dedicated to a live performance of Živé kvety in Kaštan, Unijazz in Prague, Tajovsky wrote: “Živé kvety naplňují dylanovské heslo „tři akordy a pravda“, na jejich písničkách je nejcennější právě to, že jim jeden věří, i když s lecčím nemusí souhlasit.” (Tajovsky, 2017). Translation: “Živé kvety fulfil the Dylan slogan “three chords and the truth”, the most precious thing about their songs is that you believe them, even though you may not agree with at all.”
He continues that from the time of Stoka’s home theatre, the band faced a distinct resistance from the ruling establishment, first to Mečiar and later to Fico, but Lucia Piussi, the author of the lyrics, did not make any compromises. A message from the concert in Kaštan, for Tajovsky is in the spirit of universal humanism (he cited the song To, čo nás spája – „What connects us is stronger and bigger than what divides us…“) (Tajovsky, 2017).
During the years, there are contrastingopinions about the work of the band, positive and critical comments from public or audience. For example, that Lucia is bad at singing, or that every band wants to be popular, despite the opposite already mentioned attitude of Živé kvety. The opinion of Lucia is that the band members were always idealists and romantics. If they couldn’t play or sing, they probably wouldn’t have been doing it for 25 years. She invites those who criticize the band or her, to come at some of their concerts (Sudor, 2019). The attitude of Lucia and the band as a representative of independent scene is valuable through their activities in the last 25 years: performances in small clubs, releasing albums for independent record companies, respect of indie ethos based on independence, melancholy, or inspiration from philosophy, art or aesthetic fields. For Fonarow, in the indie community, independence means aversion to a status quo and embracing the spirit of discontent and rebellion. Personal responsibility, being independent from the authority of others are the leading values in indie music, simultaneously coupled with the autonomy of the artist. Indie also means commitment to an individual artistic expression (Fonarow, 2006: 51-56). What is also important for the members of Živé kvety is that they are connected and have continuity in their work because most of the members are constant in all past years: Piussi, Bálik, Lovecká, Mironov and Kratochvil.
One of the essential things in their work is the creation of simplicity which could express the story as a whole, as a truth and honest expression. The process of working during the creation of some particular song is in general accented between Piussi and Bálik. Sometimes one word or one short sentence from Lucia is enough for development and creation of the song, and sometimes some short riff or music phrase played by Bálik are an inspiration. Also, the intuition is important for Lucia, sometimes she got some new idea that was hidden in her consciousness or that was created in the past (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava).
Music and Lyrics Analysis
Within the music analysis in this paper, apart from using elements of traditional music analysis of particular musical form, melodic, rhythmic or harmonic aspects, we have covered and taken into account the manner in which the musicians created the particular piece of music, the impact and the cooperation among them. Alongside music analysis, another aspect of analysis is the lyrics of the songs, by analysing their content, main theme, features, manner of expression and metaphorical meaning. (Papazova, 2017: 8, 9, 56, 57).
Song lyrics analysis arises from literary studies, based on the analysis of poetry, short stories, novels, plays, and other written texts. In literary studies, many different methodologies have been developed to understand the meaning of texts or textual analysis. In this paper we apprise the primary methods scholars have employed to study rock lyrics:
- new criticism involves formal analysis of the various elements used to structure written text, for example word choice, point of view, narration, plot, characterization;
- content analysis is a form of analysis meant to facilitate a general and objective understanding by describing the text´s most superficial elements (e.g. words, sound, images). The data produced from content analyses can then be used to establish a general impression of a text, to compare texts to each other;
- figurative speech or figure of speech that relates one concept to another unrelated concept, operates at the level of connotation (metaphor, metonymy, allegory);
- ideological analysis – meanings necessarily inflected by a particular belief of value system;
- discourse analysis study of other communicative forms such as images and sound (Kearney, 2017: 211-213).
What is typical for Živé kvety is that the lyrics are written by the vocalist Lucia Piussi. In rock music, lyrics composed by the vocalist who sings them are typically given the most value, since they suggest or present authentic personal expression. Nevertheless, lyrics should not necessarily be understood as pure reflections of the song writer’s intentions or actions. As with other art forms, lyrics are often about exploring alternate ways of being more than documenting experience (Kearnery, 2017: 213). Discussing about the process of writing the lyrics, Lucia explained that her lyrics did not express always clear narrative content but are combinationof her intuition and her experience from her life or her emotions provoked from Bratislava. In addition, one of the best songs were written when the members of her band did not have any idea, but within their mutual collaboration, playing, talking, their knowledge, their need to be happy and satisfied, brought them at the end to create a good song. The meaning of a good song is if stays continuously on the repertoire and has feedback from the audience and critics (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava).
In the last centuries, the city of Bratislava was inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. The panorama of Bratislava was painted by domestic and foreign artists: Miroslav Cipár, Ernesto La Padula, Attilio La Padula, Martin Činovský, Július Schubert etc. (www.webumenia.sk). Also, Bratislava was used in the underground artistic community in the period of the 1980s. In 1981, the samizdat Bratislavský chodec (The Walker of Bratislava) was published by Grupák Budajov, which deals with social urbanism and contextualization of Eastern European realities or relics from the period of socialism. The text has the character of an internal monologue and is supplemented by Jan Budaj’s photographs from Bratislava. The text includes his comments, while he walked through the city, on the architecture in a way that develops other meaningful contexts. At the end of the 1980s, Budaj created a text with ecological topic in a small book with 64 A4 pages titled Bratislava nahlas (Bratislava aloud). It consisted of a preamble, an editorial note, and four main parts (Natural Environment Components, Cultural History Elements, Social Environment, Backgrounds). The publishers were Mikuláš Huba and Juraj Flamík as statutory representatives of the Basic Organizations of SZOPK no. 6 and 13 in Bratislava (http://janbudaj.sk/bratislava-nahlas/).
The strong connection between Lucia and her native city is reflected in her lyrics during all these years with continuity, within a deep need to “catch the moments” of different personal, artistic, cultural, urban or environmental relationships (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava).
Both songs Bratislava I and Bratislava II were published as EP in 2014 for Polípět. The comparative method accomplished with similarities and differences during the music analysis gives dynamics in the creation of the topic about the relationship between music and the city.
Bratislava I is in slow tempo, with more repetitive lyrics (“Bratislava, the trains are passing, the lights are passing”), while Bratislava II is in medium tempo and with more diverse lyrics. The inspiration for Bratislava I comes after the death of Lucia’s aunt. In that period the city was very empty, therefore the atmosphere is reflected with minimal repetitive music and lyrics sections. Shortly after finishing the song Bratislava I, during one rehearsal, Lucia showed to the band some short thoughts that she wrote previously connected with Bratislava, and an atmosphere, a sparkle was developed for a new song – Bratislava II. The videos for both songs are based on shots of Bratislava – Bratislava I with older shots from the first decades of the 20thcentury, while the video for Bratislava II takes us in the present time, with shots of modern Bratislava, within participation of the band members, guests, one of them is one of the most important Slovak rock musicians Marián Varga. The videos were directed by friends of the band, the first one by Majka Chudíková and the second one by the director Maroš Berák (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava).
Bratislava I is created on acoustic principle with dominance of vocal and electric piano, recitative, narrative interpretation of the vocal. On the other side, Bratislava II is based on rock sound – electric guitar, Hammond organ and drums. The drums played repetitive accents on second and fourth beat in 4/4 meter. There is one instrumental guitar solo, before the last repetition of the chorus. The form in both songs is verse – chorus, and both have short instrumental introductions. Bratislava I form scheme: instrumental introduction / verse / chorus / verse / chorus. The form of this song could be treated in another way, as binary based on b section. That is because of the minimal lyrics in b section and minimal melodical contrast, or development is there in comparison with the verse or a section. The form scheme of Bratislava II – instrumental introduction / verse / chorus / verse / chorus / instrumental section / chorus expands with part of the previous instrumental section. The lyrics are concentrated in the verses, while the chorus contains the repetition of the word Bratislava, and vocalises. Between the last repetition of the chorus in Bratislava II comes a guitar solo section followed by instrumental short coda with dominance of electric keyboard section. This scheme is also present in other songs of Živé kvety.
The city, for Lucia, means a dialogue, she wants to write memorable actual experiences, sometimes everyday activities, sometimes contradictory, strange situations about personal relationships, friendships, political, social topics or problems (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava).
In Bratislava II, the singer speaks to the city in the second person singular. The thoughts are divided between present and past memories, between pleasant and unpleasant experiences or living in the city:
Vítaš ma, voláš a hneď odháňaš tým nezmazateľným rúžom
S vulgárnym smiechom sazakláňaš a vravíš: “Všade mám svojich mužov!”
Ty macošská matka, čo sa nestará o svoje zatúlané štence
Ty spomienka na dvory, na prašiak, na orech, aj na pukance
Translation: You welcome me, you call and you drive away with the indelible lipstick
With a vulgar laugh you lean back and say, “I have my men everywhere!”
You are mother who doesn’t care about her stray puppies
You remember the courtyards, the powder, the walnuts, and the popcorn
Bratislavskí pankáči (Bratislava punks),from the album Nové poschodia (2016) is based on distorted guitar riffs, lively rhythm, 4/4 meter, with dominance of quarter note pulse. Solo vocal is in the middle register with the modest development of seconds and thirds. The beginning of the melody in chorus is developed withinitial leap of a sixth upwards. The form is verse – chorus. Scheme: instrumental introduction / verse / chorus / verse / chorus / instrumental section based on the riff from the introduction / chorus / verse short version and could be treat as coda.
In Bratislavskí pankáči, the lyrics section contains thoughts, attitudes based on opposition or irony and presence of allegory on ethical, political level.
Here is the example of the second verse and chorus:
Pušky starej mafie
Živí sú mŕtvi
V plnke, aj bez zubov
Mŕtvi sú živí
A všetci sú za vodou
Translation: Bratislava Punks
Old Mafia rifles
The Masters of Recession
The alive are dead
In filling, even without teeth
The dead are alive
And they’re all over the water
Na ľavom brehu Dunaja (On the left bank of the Danube), from the album Nové poschodia (2016), starts with introduction on guitar, than the verse is repeated twice, it is acoustic song – with dialogue between the vocal and the acoustic guitar, the vocal section is soft and gentle. In the chorus, the instrumental section is enriched with piano, strings, back vocals and vocalises. It is also enriched with little crescendo. After the third repetition of the verse, the second repetition of the chorus is shorter draw on vocalises.
Na ľavom brehu Dunaja is based on the relationship of the main character and the city as imaginary friend. While in the song Bratislava II, Lucia addresses the city in second person singular, in the song Na ľavom brehu Dunaja we have dialogue in opposite direction or relation. At the beginning of the song or in the first verse the city speaks to another person – „if you are poisoned in some period of your life, then come and lay down with me on the grass“. Then the lyrics develop in first person plural from the end of the second repetition of the verse towards the chorus:
Máme spolu čas minulý
Veď sme z neho nič neminuli…
Translation: We have past time together
After all, we haven’t missed anything …
We have time
So much time
How much water
In the last verse, the plot moves on to the Main square in Bratislava, and that in good and bad times the city tells her that it will always love her. Melancholic and joyful atmosphere is part of the song from musical and lyrical aspect. Lucia’s purpose is their songs to have couple of parts, and together as a whole to present beauty, joy and sadness, or different feelings, thoughts, and associations. And if there is reaction from the audience or the public, then they accomplished their purpose in their work (interview with Lucia Piussi, 23.04.2019, Bratislava). Form scheme – instrumental introduction / verse / chorus / verse / chorus short version.
Lucia is inspired also from the streets of Bratislava. For example, the songs Na mojej ulici (On My Street), from the album Na mojej ulici, (2004) and Na Žilinskej (On Žilinská Street) from the album Oľga, ideš svojím tempom!, (Olga You Go With Your Own Tempo) (2012). Na mojej ulici reflects the experiences of narrative and imaginative stories about the everyday atmosphere on the street filled with different characters, places and their relationship. The comic elements could be heard in both of these songs. For example:
Na mojej ulici:
A schody z pavlače ma vedú do dvora
A Maja, keď ma zbadá, skríkne na mňa:
„Ach, ideš ticho ako vrah!“
Translation: And the stairs from the gallery lead me to the courtyard
And Maya, when she sees me, yells at me:
„Oh, you go quiet like a killer! “
Na Žilinskej ulici
Na Žilinskej ulici
Vrckári pri práci
Kým úradníčky z ministerstva sociálnych vecí
Mudrujú nad ovocím
Translation: On Žilinská street
Pickpockets are working
Officials from the Ministry of Social Affairs
Mourn over fruit
The geeky presence in the lyrics and therefore in the songs relates to comic or other cultural references – geek rock celebrates the mundane while also having an imaginative flair for how the mundane is celebrated. And according to Alex DiBlasi, this is opposite to mainstream rock scene (DiBlasi, 2014: 1), and part of the Živé kvety working attitude.
Music form in the songs Na mojej ulici and Na Žilinskej is based on verse and chorus.
Na mojej ulici: instrumental introduction/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/ instrumental section/ verse/chorus/ instrumental section and ending part. Harmony is based on C, D, and G.
Na Žilinskej: instrumental introduction/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/instrumental section created with new melody on guitar accomplished with piano chords.
Both of them are in medium tempo, and the melody development of the vocal from verse to chorus Na Žilinskej is similar to previously mentioned song Bratislavskí pankáči.
The activities of Lucia as an actress with the experimental theatre Stoka, are also connected with one song Sladké večery v Stoke (Sweet Nights At Stoka) from the album Na mojej ulici (2004). It’s a story about the good music experience at Stoka and the disappointment followed by dislocation of the theatre building. After the sweet concert experience of performers and audiences, Lucia sings that soon Stoka will be demolished for the purpose of building a national aquarium with the money of the citizens, so the experience will not be sweet.
The song is in medium tempo, accents are on second and fourth beat in 4/4, the form is verse – chorus, there is crescendo toward the chorus. Music form: introduction/verse/ chorus / short instrumental on harmonica / verse/chorus/solo harmonica/chorus/coda.
In the second verse the vocal is more nervous because of the lyrics content – dislocation of the Stoka theatre.
Dni ako komíny (Days Like Chimneys) is a song from the album Sloboda (2005). It is based on allusion, inspired from the poetry of Edward E. Cummings (1894-1962), or more precisely from his book Tullips and Chimneys (1923). He is one of the most important American modernist writers along with T. S. Eliot or E. Pound. Cummings’ writing aroused controversy from the very beginning. He was reportedly the first American poet to post vulgarisms in the poem. In 1970 the book Tullips and Chimneys was translated by Ján Vilikovský, titled as Tulipány a komíny.
Lucia uses other novels or writers’ bibliographies as an inspiration. The song Kde to žijeme is inspired from the novels of Sándor Márai. (Trávníček, 2012). There is also use of allegory in the same song, the word „gorila“ is referring to the politician Fico and on the secondary level expresses the problem of political ethics and consciences.
Writing about this song and its inspiration from Cummings’ poetry, Kollár would emphasize that the book Tullips and Chimneys at the time of its creation, was considered to be bold and sometimes shocking experiment. The 1990s mentioned in the lyrics of the song Dni ako komíny are also considered to be social, economic and art experimental years. And from present or recent perspective, Kollár would conclude that it is difficult to say whether, after the Slovak experimental years of the 1990s, some “poetry” has remained. Perhaps it is easier to say that Cummings’ poetry, after more than 60 years since the publication of his last collection reflects on the problems, but also the joys of the current (post) modern man. (Kollár, 2017).
The song has three verses and chorus in between. The chorus is based on direct allusion of Cummings’ poetry –
Dni ako komíny, ako tulipány
S dlhými nohami sú pred nami
Dni ako komíny, ako tulipány
S dlhými nohami, sú pred nami!
Translation – Days like chimneys like tulips
With long legs they are in front of us
Days like chimneys like tulips
With long legs, they are in front of us!
The first verse and the third as modification of the first verse are about the remembrance of the 1990s as good free naive years, when bands appeared like mushrooms after rain. Lucia presents poetic and geeky comic elements in the lyrics, typical also for Cummings’ style:
V sladkom lete roku 91 ešte Bratislava bola skanzen
Nič, len známi, žiadne reklamy
Opadaná omietka, mafiáni v plienkach
Translation –In the summer of 91, Bratislava was an open-air museum
Nothing, just known, no ads
Fallen plaster, mafia in diapers
The second verse is a development of the story from the 1990s. First Lucia connects the lyrics of the chorus and beginning of the second verse confirming that of course we hear part of Cummings’ poem, who brought to them the god who plays guitar :… básne od Cummingsa, priniesol ich sám pán boh z Kosy z nosa, ten keď hral na gitare, tak sa nám zahlmievali oči ako sklá na Mliečnom bare…Translation: Cummings’ poems, are brought by the God from Kosa z nosa, and when he was playing the guitar our blinded eyes were stuck on the window of the Milk Bar…
The god is allegory for Braňo Špaček, guitarist of Kosa z nosa. Live performances of Kosa z nosa as influence were dominant for the young musicians in the 1990s, including the members of Živé kvety.
Afterwards the positive nostalgic story from the first verse changes or the main actor present and personal insecure fillings, experiences, and through a metaphor level it is said that she would not look at the world with pink glasses anymore. The third verse is similar to the first one considering the beginning, while the end is lyrically modified, we could find the use of metonymy with the topic about naive freedom, and Lucia’s message “live further in you jelly“. The song ends with the chorus.
The song is in medium tempo. The form as in other songs is based on verse and chorus and instrumental sections in between: Instrumental introduction / verse narrative treatment of the vocal, short diapason/chorus higher register of melody, leap of a sixth upwards from verse to chorus, like in the songs Bratislavskí pankáči and Na Žilinskej / verse, accents on some words – jasne, dobre, polyrhythm between vocal and guitar sections/chorus/verse3 again some accents on words such as – zna, kamaraty, naivna sloboda/chorus expanded with vocalises (u-u-u-; na-na-na) / instrumental section, guitar solo/ chorus/ guitar solo section as coda accomplished with little decrescendo.
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All lyrics reprinted by permission from Lucia Puissi.