If I had a penny for every time I heard a grumpy, narrow-minded, middle-aged moaner say something like: “They don’t make records like they used to” or “They only churn out rubbish in popular music these days” I’d be a millionaire! Concerning popular music, some people seem to be trapped in a time-warp, suspiciously based around the period when they were teenagers and young adults. Like as if the music that was made before and after isn’t worth considering!
And then there’s the classical crowd. Content some are to listen to the faithful few – Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. Now don’t get me wrong, I love those composers but what about all the fabulous writers that have come afterwards, some still living even? Come on chaps, let’s be more open-minded!
Personally, I think music has been on an incredible journey since the invention of recorded music and the internet. Now music from all over the world and from every period is easily accessible. Children aren’t just exposed to the music of their parents or even from their native village/culture. There are some fantastic, inspired music makers, themselves inspiring global audiences and future creators alike. As long as the human race continues, I believe great musical creations will continue to be a feature of our civilisation.
Something that continues to fascinate me is the evolution of musical instruments. For so long we’ve had great orchestral instruments which form the bedrock of our western musical heritage. But for me, the sounds made possible by electronic synthesisers pioneered a dawn of new, exciting possibilities. Sounds that had never yet been heard before with infinite variety and applications. And now with the advent of the computer, the odyssey moves ever forward with powerful music creation and editing tools, layering traditional musical elements with a fantastic, fresh new palette.
I’d like to temper this excitement for current and future music with homage to the great musical creators of the past. Despite the exciting musical frontiers that present themselves to us, isn’t it amazing to marvel at the outstanding quality of compositions written hundreds of years ago? I’m so glad that this body of work is being lovingly curated despite the fact that much has sadly disappeared in the void of history.
So is music getting better? Worse? I’m not sure. But I think it is safe to say that throughout human history there has been and will continue to be great expressions of human emotion in the form of music. The journey has been an interesting one, in the last few decades, the way we create and consume music has taken things in some very interesting directions. Where will it go next? Where will we take it in our own musical spheres? Can we open minds to the joyous possibilities with our music students?
Important to add, without stating the obvious, is that not all music made has been of a high quality. With the advent of YouTube, it terrifies me the false confidence with which some amateurs inflict their music upon the world. For every great composition, there must be a plethora of hideous creations which should have hit the cutting floor. But there again is the old chestnut: what is art? If they enjoy creating and sharing their music, are they really doing any harm? All humans need a voice (even if no one listens!) Perhaps I am the only person reading this blog! Ha, ha!