Blog Entry 4#
While currently contemplating my existence in the art music medium and in consideration of its relevance I decided to watch the clips on Aljazeera addressing the area of Music of Resistance.
I loved the quote made by Sean Kuti “empty pockets leads to obedience” in reference to firing a musician who is late in his band. Unfortunately this adage can be applied to the professional world of opera in a negative context. Due in part to the current financial constraints of the opera world high level administrators are able to demand often ridiculous things from artists and artists comply for not only financial considerations but also in the interest of career preservation. This is currently a powerful area of control and implementation of behaviour modification in professional singers. Human rights violations are actively implemented in Western art music performance regularly and are largely ignored.
I was also interested in the described need for much discipline in music making. It seems across all cultures and genres “deliberate practice” and “focus” are required
While watching the clip on Tinariwen I was struck how across cultures the call to remain positive in music making and to work in a calm and peaceful music environment produces the experience of “flow”. Relating to my last blog entry addressing music-making as a powerful communicative agent I was fascinated how passing along cassettes made by Tinariwen specifically in the song “Shatma” indicated to nomads the need to rise up against oppressors and to unify. The power of music as communication is heightened to exciting levels of protest in within this community.
Interestingly the third clip interview exists in the area of Brick Lane in London. When visiting London for several auditions in 2007, my British relatives would not accompany me to Brick Lane for Indian food because they considered it such a “bad” area...so I went myself.
I find myself questioning the relevance of Western popular music making when the current trend in the messages of popular music is to convey the importance of sex and the loss of love as the most prevalent themes. Where are we going as a society with these messages? Inherent in our music messages is such a selfish focus on the individual. With racism and serious social concerns still prevalent in North America why are popular artists ignoring this? Or are they being censored by the music industry? With the highest selling artists on itunes singing about being “hot” being “the best”, and getting or losing a boyfriend, are we in essence making ourselves irrelevant and superficial as a culture? I would like to see some music made here in Canada addressing the current Canadian immigration practice of charging a head tax to incoming refugees or the recruitment of refugees into gang life the minute they step off the plane in Canada, or in the current practice of Canadian insurance companies denying coverage of new drugs developed with less side effects for individuals ingesting them thus forcing citizens to continue taking prescriptions with more side effects simply because they are covered.
Feeling utterly disillusioned today...perhaps I should go get a manicure, buy another pair of shoes and grab a Starbucks in an attempt to make myself feel better about the relevance of my existence and work and effectively comply with the social norms of society. Perhaps I should take the words of Chullage to heart “Don’t let the system make you hate your people” in reference to my experience in the classical music community of performance. To perhaps take heed o f the Cape Verdeans in Lisbon practice of drawing on past music practices while seeking new meaning in music-making in the present day...