Rambling on about music (possibly ending in a rant)…

But first…
Dulltown UK/Europe: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: crumpled, Chautauquan, sessile, wanthriven, saxifragaceous, hidalgoish, opsonic, and ribald. Me, I like ‘ribald’ the best!
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I expect us humans have always had music.
Oh, hang on, are there any cultures in the world that have evolved without bothering with it? It doesn’t seem essential for survival, hunter-gathering, procreation, etc. does it? So I suppose, there is no real need for it – it’s an aberration!
I reckon though that the people of one or two cultures probably started off with a bit of music in their lives, but then some upstart bullies came along and invented religion, and banned it – ‘We are not put here by the Great Woolly God in the sky to enjoy ourselves!…’ they shouted, as they cheerfully set about hitting with their big clubs all the folk they could find who were openly humming a tune.
I expect it all started with rhythm; you know, people knocking things together, desperate for amusement, during those long winter evenings back in the cave. Rhythm does occur naturally of course, heart beats, that drip, drip, drip, where the water leaks in at the back of the cave, woodpeckers banging away at trees, owls hooting through the night, sexual intercourse of course, that sort of thing.
Then once you had folk banging things together, your rhythm section, you could add a few grunts and howls, then someone might pick up a bison horn and blow down it to make farting noises – I’ll bet it sounded great! They probably invited their friends round to listen and even join in; someone might bring some pebbles in a spare monkey skull and shake them around a bit. The guests could have a bite to eat, mammoth meat sandwiches perhaps, and later they could sketch a few animals on the walls, and add some red hand prints, as they listened to the music… ‘What a great night it was! We must do it again sometime,’ they’d call back as they skipped off home.
Perhaps back then they realised that music wasn’t something ‘naturally occurring in the world, but a human thing – something of their own! Perhaps also music made people a bit excited, and emotional, and it brought them together, and they found that they were, ‘moved’ by it?
Of course not everyone was moved – some of the not-too-bright ones present at these gathering would sit wondering what the hell was going on, but desperately, wanting to be part of the proceedings, and not be thought of as an ‘outsider’, they pretended that they ‘got it’…

So, thousands and thousands of years passed, and humans thrived and continued to like making pleasant and ‘meaningful’, sounds for each other. Of course there were always those people who didn’t quite ‘get it’, and weren’t really moved by it – yes, they carried the genetic markers for ‘tone deafness’ and serious aesthetic arrhythmia.
Of course they tried to hide this affliction from their fellows – they wanted to appear as being musically aware and sophisticated, and sensitive, etc. – so, in front of their musical pals, they banged on about the ‘depth’ and ‘complexity’ of the music, and how amazingly ‘clever’ and ‘difficult to play’ it was. ‘Look here,’ they said, ‘it’s obvious that a simple tune, a plain catchy melody, isn’t as good, as worthwhile, and as meaningful, as a really difficult to play one – is it? It stands to reason, doesn’t it?…’
So, here we are, we have ended up, in classical music, and jazz, and rock guitar, with instrumentalists on stages, whizzing up and down difficult scales at high speed on pianos, violins, saxophones, guitars, etc., their expertise being cheered and applauded when, out of breath and sweating like pigs, they finally stop, and then smile and bow to the sycophants. Members of the audience, suitably amazed, nudging each other in the ribs are saying, ‘Oh what expertise, virtuosity and feeling! I wouldn’t have missed this for the world!…’
But what about ‘popular’ music though Dave?
Ha!… Blandness and niceness have taken over everything! We are told by capitalism what to like, we don’t listen any more. It is all acceptable, pleasant, and derivative, and most important of all, it is unchallenging! What we need are a few hairy cave dwellers to come grunting out of their caves to show us the way…

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in adjectives, archeology, art, brain, creation, Grumpiness, history, humour, information, music, observations, religion, sweating, thinking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rambling on about music (possibly ending in a rant)…

  1. Sharon Mann says:

    We owe a lot to the original cave dwelling music makers, well done, loved your essay Dave. And, my new word for the day “ribald”, haha.

  2. Jheron Bash says:

    So, tell me Dave, what do you think of Japanese Taiko drumming? They don’t half whack ’em!

  3. Dana Doran says:

    I heard some beautiful songbirds today…I think they were mocking my puppy. He “oofed” at them in a nice tenor voice….they answered in warbles. It had nothing to do with humans or politics.

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