Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Rock and Beyond

Like any field in society, it is subject to analysis, later on, conclusions from researches can actually reveal something about society as a whole. I have, due to my education, an important interest towards music. Most of the people do say that they like music, I know people who really do know a lot, and most have a restricted knowledge of it. I will shortly explain through two life examples the reaction coming from people who have a restricted knowledge. But first of all, I need to legitimize myself so you understand my perspective on the subject. As a player ( clarinet ) I have learned the western way to analyse a piece of music, I also had also amounted a lot of information on the history of this art through school, my parents, readings and DVD's.

I will use some premises throughout this text, the first one is that the creation of music, it's interpretation and distribution are the results of different forces in society. I don't think that someone will disagree that for the manufacturers of music, their history will account for their taste and therefore for the music they'll create. Meaningful changes in music are therefore the results of meaningful changes within society. That is why afterwards, in the field of history, music periods often possess the same name as societies period. I would even propose that music periods account in better details, like other subjects in the history of art ( e.g. literature ). As an example, the romantic period show the the dream of a liberated society by the enlightenment, and the naturalist period show the result of an industrializing society which doesn't represent the dreams of the romantics.
I have two flatmates, one is South-African, Michael, the other is English, Andrew.
Both admits a restricted taste and knowledge of music. Michael is open to some styles of music, mostly southern music of the globe and some R'n B. Andrew on the other hand, restricts himself to songs which make the charts. Both represents different sides of a global society. Michael, not being directed by society's mass choice ( a choice which important theories show that it is mainly created by the important music corporations), is open to any kind of music which he will come across. On another point, through my discussions with him, his discovery of music is an interesting point for me who is already deeply embedded by my interactions in the field. Andrew's perspective otherwise is just a reference towards something I don't want to be associate with, I try to reject as much as possible prejudices when trying new music. I'm not sure though what are my exact criteria set of taste created by my environment, but I can explain what I look for.

I like Rock and Roll, but my definition, like most people, is wide. I will use here a short dialogues from the documentary “The Last Waltz” by Martin Scorsese. It is between Martin Scorsese and Levon Helm, the drummer of the band calld “ The Band”:
“ Levon Helm – Near Memphis, cotton country, rice country, the most interesting thing is probably the music.
Martin Scorsese – Who comes from around there ?
Levon Helm – Carl Perkins, Muddy Waters the king of country music, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Bo Diddley. That's kind of the middle of the country back there. So bluegrass or country music, if it comes down to that area and if it mixes there with rhythm and if it dances, then you've got a combination of all those different kinds of music. Country, bluegrass, blues music, show music. The melting pot.
Martin Scorsese – And what's it called ?
Levon Helm – Rock and Roll”
A metling pot, and that is what I like in music. Such melting pots can be found around the world but having grown up in a European country, my influences were mainly western. I like this idea of amalgam of musics and cultures. It is an aspect in world cultures which show the results of this aspiration for a global world where region cultures keep some aspect of their identity to produce something new. It unites messages and open doors to other cultures.

All this genres of music, I like to distinct them in two large categories. The first one is the one that unite music from the southern hemisphere with the northern. First of all my examples, I would like to name Charlie Parker and his third way, when he added string playing in a classical way with his jazz solo. The Clash imports of reggae music into punk rock is an example that everybody knows. It can also be observed in the souther countries. Psychedelic music during the 70's influenced great local bands from Sub-Saharan countries. There are also a lot of available covers of well-known song in South-American style. Manu Chao in this matter is also a real global artist. My last example, which I discovered last year and quite enjoy is Rachid Taha, an Algerian artist playing in France and mixes every kind of music he encountered closely.

The second category is the music which mixes the east and the west. Gogol Bordello is the most famous recent example I can think of, playing East European Folk music and punk. Blonde Redhead is another band which incorporates the Chinese tonality of its singer with its contemporary dreamy sounds. Having lived in Thailand, I listened to the music there, but I had a problem with the immobility of Thai culture, which is also observable in its music. To compare it with another country which has more diverse cultures but keep an identity, it's been a while that I listened to Japanese radios. In every style, whether it is jazz, rock or hip-hop, they have some definite real global quality bands: PE'Z, MINMI, Nujabe, Sing02 are just a few of them. It is also observable, for obvious reasons, that the Chinese scene in China has not got what I look for.

So here are some of my preferences in music. I have to state that I do listen to classics also, it is important to understand where different cultures come from. But I do believe that as good songs they can be, they can incarnate exactly what I look for in my music. I'm lost in my thoughts now and I don't know what I wanted to say. Music represents Society in lot of ways. People appreciate the art of the their milieu, and listen to whatever person they consider superior in their milieu. Knowledge of it might free people, but there is a long way to gon though some musics can maybe show the way.
There. I hope I saved my self.

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