If music says nothing then all it offers is noise – pleasant though that noise may be

(September 25, 2008)

If music speaks all languages then apparently a large amount of it that crashes through the airwaves converses in the language of another planet. And I don't speak Martian!

Music must tell us something to be valid in what it says. If it doesn’t say anything then all it offers is noise – pleasant though that noise may be. And that’s a key point. When we talk about music are we discussing a pleasant noise or the meaning and content? Does folk, acoustic, roots (etc) music ask more than many devotees of modern plastic music are prepared to give?

Plastic music and other irritations

The drive behind the majority of modern plastic music is to make money and to create a pleasant noise along the way. Although the latter part of that claim is sometimes rather doubtful. The function of much of this ‘music’ is nothing more than to feed the celebrity obsessed, ‘fashionista’ culture we currently endure. That and of course to make money for the producer or music entrepreneur, rather than to say anything to the world about itself or its subject. Such musical miasma demands no serious thought and creates no impact other than the space it temporarily occupies before it fades like spring mist on a warm day.

There is of course the promise of acceptance, that fleeting, meaningless pact that such musical pap makes with its vapid audience. “I won’t say too much if you don’t demand too much.” In this insipid agreement lies the destruction of music as an art form with something to say and the replacement of musical art with commercial commodity. It is this void that creates 'bands' out of a bunch of youths with bounce and visual appeal - but talent and skill? And anyway surely a band has to do more than gyrate and attempt to sing - I thought by definition bands play instruments.

The difference between musicians and music artists and those bland, tasteless acts manufactured by either studio tycoons or by rigged public vote on a mindless TV programme is manifold and plain to see. One side takes the time and effort to listen to the world it lives in and comments through music – the other is far too superficial to think like that. The problem is a large percentage of the population are blind and do not see it. And do not forget that those people are happy in their progressive myopia for it taxes their minds not one jot.

Art for money's sake

There is no more truth in the actions of commercial music that there is in setting a dead shark in a huge tank of formaldehyde or calling an unmade bed covered in sweaty underwear, contemporary art. It’s not. It’s crap. It’s like watching the pitiful meanderings of hopeless hopefuls on the latest pop discovery show. There is no depth, no communication in either.

All that posturing is just dead art basking in the glow of the commercial furnace. And that lazing around in front of the furnace door is all too brief as the fascination fades and another confidence trickster becomes fad of the month. The next time some poor soul is unfortunate enough to hear the latest boy or girlie band and then buy the music they are quite simply throwing fuel on the flames and stoking the furnace. And that conflagration is taking music and art somewhere it was never intended to go.

Folk and acoustic music are of course their own worst enemies when they make comment or observation that demands thought. That’s because in asking the thoughtless to think and making social, historical or plain musical comment they exceeded the voltage capacity of grey matter in their heads. It is then easy to ridicule rather than attempt to comprehend because what people don’t understand they usually deride.

And no, I don’t appreciate how an unmade bed and a bloody dead fish constitute art, hence the derision.

Neither do I recognise how some pathetic ‘wannabe’ attempting to sing meaningless lyrics has anything to do with music.

Probably because I don't speak Martian.


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