Music As History

Looking into the past, encountering person, place and timeline; these things help me to develop a better understanding of where I have come from, present circumstances, my future destination.

History impels me to consider matters which reveal the challenges of great artists, their successes and flat out grit. Their narrative helps me grasp influences which have contributed to who they are. This will help answer questions I may have and expedite personal trials.

I hope to understand my place in music culture by observing those who have come before me, giving serious consideration to their learned experience. There is credence to these view points because I seek multi-dimensional understanding and appreciation, inclining to know the how and why.

One of the things I hope to avoid, as much as possible, is western ethnocentricity. My challenge has been to seek out musical context from multinational sources. So much of today’s international music is influenced by western ideals and process; there in lies the challenge. Hats off to Bollywood for embracing almost 20 percent of the world’s musical heritage, and yet…

A lot of my search is biographical in nature. The references I seek and embrace are racial, societal and gender related; including technical and theoretical view points. Observing and denoting these personal accounts allows me to strip down my misunderstandings of perspective. I have carried many prejudices and misconceptions since the arrival of life’s first flames of musical passion.

Alternatives are limitless in today’s choices of influence.

All music has roots representing different aspects of geography, religion, ethnicity, and civics. What truly amazes me is how much diversity constitutes different styles in contrasting cultural regions.

Yet there remain similarities.

Much of that is attributed to basic fundamentals of melody and rhythm. Our individual nature extends in to the deepest levels of human psyche and therefore we can’t help but be influenced by primary attributes. Cultures and societies might embrace their music as indigenous to their shared experience when in fact those influences have been absorbed from cross pollination of varying narratives.

What are possible variables of musical influence? As aforementioned, technical ability, religious influences, access to technology, corporate belief systems, climate and geography. The emotions and ideas that music expresses, the situations in which music is played and listened to, a culture’s attitude toward musicians, vary between regions and periods.

Music must have been present in every society from the foundations of human existence. I believe the first music was created in Africa, or where ever we can trace the origin of our species.

Thoughts on this include the origin of instrumentation.

Simply picking up a couple of large rocks and smacking them together rhythmically (the original Rock Music), or beating on a fallen log. It probably didn’t take long to develop a desire for melody. In the end, melody is far more fascinating than pounding out a percussive structure of twos and threes. Yet those twos and threes are foundational of harmony.

Amazing that it can all be traced back to the simplest forms of structure.

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