Apr 19, 2013

Music As A Language

Time to get insightful folks.  

Tonight I spent a lot of time talking to a friend who has been at the core of the music scene for years, specifically in LA, but also around the world.   We were discussing how life throws you curve balls and based on your reaction, you dictate how your future unfolds.   I just summarized a very lengthy conversation on that entire topic into one sentence, but that was the gist of it.  We then started talking about what I was planning on doing with myself given the curve balls that have recently been tossed my way... since I have a lot more free time now I have really started focusing on what to do with this blog and how I utilize what once started as a personal hobby and has now morphed into this voice that I broadcast into the world.  

Usually when I receive music from an artist who doesn't know me and who asks me to listen and write about them, I start with a blank screen and as I listen I write and put my opinions and thoughts out there.   There have been artists I have contacted after hearing their stuff and asked if I could write about, but it is the random submissions that excite me because I literally never know what I will get in my inbox or if it will be "good" (very subjective, I know).   I very honestly said that when I hear something that isn't great, or more specifically sucks, I just don't write about it.   I don't want to use my forum to trash people, or put down what they created.   No one knighted me an expert and of course it really comes down to taste anyway, right?   But my friend challenged me- what if instead of shying away from music that may not impress me, I was able to find a way to write about it subjectively, stating what I didn't like, what could be improved or changed and yet still giving their creation the benefit of reaching other people.   Fair point.   In the coming months I hope I can live up to this challenge, and write about everything I hear.   That was one outcome of the conversation.

The other, more mind blowing concept we discussed was music itself.   I have long maintained that I hate country music.   Of all the genres that exist, it is the only one I really cannot stand or relate to at all.   yes, there are exceptions (um hello, Johnny Cash anyone?) but as a standalone genre if I hear something with the lyrics "she thinks my tractor's sexy" I'm inclined to roll my eyes and dismiss it as total bunk.   Instead of laughing, my friend actually clarified the concept of musical taste to me in a way I already perceived but didn't articulate.   Music, like all creative venues, is a language.   It is a form of communication that allows people to relate to one another in a way literal words may not be able to do.   The idea of music as a language is not new, but the twist that kind of caught me off guard was how different generations have had different points of view, things to say, and therefore the language itself is ever changing and progressing and speaking to different people in different ways.

Take dubstep, for example.   The music blasted in clubs today is literally numbing- it is relaying so much about the current generation.   The trend of popping molly and disengaging from everything while still being physically present, while the sounds attack your senses.   Go back to the 60's, think about what was going on in the country and the world then- war, dissatisfaction, peace, love... that is what the music of that era relayed.   Of course, since I was having this discussion at an event focused on old school hip hop, we talked about how hip hop was the voice for an entire group of people who had no other outlet.   To tie it all together, we came to the conclusion that all of the genres I identify with and love, speak to me.   They are languages I understand in some form or another- even if it makes no sense how someone like me could possibly identify with a genre like hip hop- and yet I do.

While none of this is new information, having it put so clearly in front of my face clicked for me.   I don't "hate" house music, in fact I am a fan of some of it- but for the most part it isn't a language I am fluent in.   Instead of dismissing it as 'not real music' I am trying to wrap my mind around the concept of it just simply being a foreign language that I don't speak fluently.  

I know this long post is not my typical video link type of write up, but I felt like it was something I needed to articulate and share, since so many new people have started reading what I put out here and responding.   It has been so much fun sifting for buried treasure in the music I hear, picking the gems I want to write about- but it is time for me to grow and expand this into something bigger, better.   Throw your music at me- let's see how many languages we can experience and share.

Peace and love dolls- the world was a scary weird place this week and there is entirely too much negativity out there.   Let's find a language we can relate to and express ourselves with instead of acting out with senseless violence and chaos.

Shout out to the boys I saw at Afex - specifically DJ Adam 12 and Gavin O'Connor for feeding my musical soul tonight.   If you haven't come through yet, it is definitely something you should look into attending- you will walk out a lot happier than when you walked in, it is just that kind of night.

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