Archive for the ‘music’ Category

American Music Awards

November 25, 2008

I watched the American Music Awards last night.  It was the first time in my very long life I have seen this show.  I have lived long enough to see many, many kinds of music come upon the scene, and a number of styles exit the scene.  I have seen fads, “flash in the pan” personalities, and some enduring music.  Last night’s show made me wonder “what is music” anyway?  A couple of stars talked about “pushing the envelope”, and I wondered what they can push.  Do they want to redefine music the way some people want to redefine marriage?  It seems to me, music has to have rhythm, harmony, a melody and if its a song, then it has to have meaningful lyrics.  I wondered how much more you can push the boundaries of music until it becomes something that is not music.  Do we equate cacophony, noise and the like with music because we like the artist?  I have heard some of the hoopla about the Jonas brothers.  I will agree they are handsome young men, clean cut, probably very nice, and I have heard from some young people that they are very talented.  Well, from the performance I listened to on the American Music Awards, I had to assume they aren’t very talented.  Even to my amateur ear, these young men can’t sing.  I suppose they might play guitar fairly well, but the singing, frankly, was on the low end of a high school variety show.  What makes them popular?  I think its personality, pure and simple.  Young girls like them.  They are heartthrobs, and it wouldn’t matter if they are musicians, actors, skateboard stars or ball players.  The girls like THEM.  All else is forgiven.

I saw what seemed like endless performances of what passed for music, including other stars who sang off key, had raspy voices, etc, and “music” that sounded like so much noise.  The visuals obviously were dramatic, and in some cases just sexually sleazy.  However, the music probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere in another era because, by itself, without the visuals, there’s nothing to please the ear.

Whatever happened to beauty?  The last two performances of the evening were real music, and arguably beautiful.  Alicia Keys has talent.  As for most of the rest of the performances, I am reminded of “modern art” where the beautiful is sacrificed to “pushing the envelope”.  The arts are a mirror of the culture.  The culture has also sacrificed beauty for many other things of lesser value.  The culture itself reminds me of a beautifully decorated “cake” I saw once at a show, and was amazed to learn it was iced hatboxes–nothing but cardboard and air underneath.  I long for beauty and substance once again.

Orchestra without a conductor

April 13, 2008

I was in the middle of a small orchestra and chorus today.  It is amazing being in the center of that experience of sound.  You hear things you don’t hear from the audience.  Each instrument sounds individually, and the individual voice parts can be heard to some degree as well.  Its taken for granted that written music is used…and it takes a conductor to keep everyone together.  Now, it would be quite possible for everyone to sing or play whatever they felt like, and none of that would hurt the others, but without playing the same song, it would be noise and not music.  Also, even when playing and singing the same song, if the whole group isn’t together, it still sounds like noise, tho faintly recognizable as something supposed to be music.  The audience surely doesn’t appreciate it.  When everyone is on the same page, and the director has everyone together, and each part is coming in at exactly the right time, its beautiful music.  The whole thing seems to me to be an allegory of the creation/evolution debate.  How could evolution happen with no script and no director, and the whole universe be in such a marvelously beautiful harmony.  Take into account the physics and chemistry that have to work together for the biology to even have a chance.  Amazing!  Seems without belief in a director you have to concentrate on each part without considering the awesomeness of the whole as it works together.  Next time I will share an awesome bit of information I just found.