April 19, 2010

The Future of Music is Primal

(Photo via See-ming Lee 李思明 SML)

Is music returning to its roots of being a non-recording based culture?

The primal idea of music was a as participatory experience; there was no production and no punter, people joined in with chanting, clapping, percussion and dancing. It was shared freely and willingly taught. It was meant for as many people to enjoy as possible. Today, with the aid of all kinds of technology, more people in more places are listening to and enjoying more music than ever before, and for that we should be happy and seek possibilities within this.

The way that modern indie artists relate to this, is touring. Being able to share a musical experience with an artist rather than obtaining 'just another disposable digital file' is becoming more valuable. Personal interaction and genuine emotion is a big part of a fan-artist relationship, and while it may not be exactly the 'get up and join in' tribal experience of old (obviously having 250 people on stage is a bit manic), the most successful shows are the ones that replicate this the closest. A performance where a sax player weaves through the dancefloor, adding flurries and sharing smiles, surely sound like a good time.


Musicians travelled and performed even before music could be transcribed; selling songs sheets wasn't a part of their repertoire, it was purely to share the music and have a good time doing so. Centuries-old African music was not able to be transcribed because of the rule-bending and nuances that could only be shared by listening and playing. When the first blues documentors wanted to record various players in the Delta in the early 1900s, they even met resistance and the belief that the songs were not for recording but for being shared through playing and singing along.

So, just how important is the sale and tracking of your recorded music? Is it a big deal if a digital file ends up in several hands on the other side of the earth? Shouldn't you worry more about people not being able to enjoy your music, and how you are able to provide an interactive live experience that people will remember and want to continue to share?

Lee Jarvis.

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1 comment:

Mark Powers said...

Fantastic post, Lee!

As a traveler and continual student of world percussion, I have seen- and been a part of- some intense 'tribal' musical experiences. I've often felt that that level of emotion and interaction is missing from much of today's music. When it comes to creating and presenting our art, I believe we could all benefit from getting out of our heads and letting the primal side of our beings free.

Thanks much!