Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I've decided to play for change

On the plane on the way back from 5 days in the mountains and teaching a course at the Banff Centre I finally watched the whole Playing for Change movie. Impressive and it got me thinking...

Listening to music has formed the basis of a mass market industry and a state of mind which discourages, minimizes and even ridicules those who would rather play than listen.

A mother singing in the kitchen, a child humming absent-mindedly while rearranging her toys, a construction worker whistling - these are the remaining signs of a musical soul that has been somehow displaced over time; lost in our culture's senseless indifference and the boring clamor for sameness and a mundane albeit practical order.

What stops us from making it, from listening to and giving in to our inner music, and takes us down the path of purchases, makes us fans of the freedom instead of the stars of our free lives; and finally plastic wraps our solace and faith, propping it up in the bestsellers list for as long as we continue to conform in mass quantities.

Through cover music we can easily avoid the ridicule and excel through emulation (often exact) of those who have somehow previously escaped ridicule for creating and through the careful assembly of notes and words constructed to extract value from a constantly fleeting market - formulaic rock, country, gospel, etc - almost every genre has its share of this in the discount bins of our consumer worlds.

Great music only makes it to the discount bins in the worst parts of the world - horrific places like big box stores, late night TV and the credit roll portion of DVD soundtracks - places with no real depth, roots or tradition of any kind. The discount bin collects the detritus of lost dreams, broken hearts and the bastard children of greatness mashed into a bland, mushy soup of professional karaoke - at best.

So it should be no wonder that this bizarre oxymoron referred to as the "music business" is failing. No wonder people steal it in mass quantities. No wonder there appears to be no centre except the iTunes store or whatever money collection machine has the best scale. It has no centre, no sense of being and the location and point of contact to the music has little if any intrinsic value to anyone.

In much the same way we take french fries from a bag instead of from a potato, we have reduced one of our most spiritual, beneficial and collaborative gifts to another credit card purchase and forgotten how to create and sing ourselves.

Its not so much the fault of musicians, although if you believe this you will quickly realize that there are different kinds of musicians - those who deliberately participate in this veiled circus of marketing and hype and far more importantly those pure true souls who only have the most legitimate distribution and listenership through the collective sharing force of the like-minded, friends, family and movements that they play a role in.

These musicians and those who listen to it know that to play it, to truly play it, is to feel it and understand the feeling, to be pulled by strings that wrap around our hearts and minds, planting seeds that last forever in our fondest of memories.

True music lasts forever. Greatness supersedes the marketing machine capability. Sadly, music that plays for change, plays for peace, that brings tears to your eyes and joy to your heart has hardly any more place in the western music world that surrounds us today.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - @bitpakkit

Now as for Playing for Change, watch the latest episode...

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