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Musically Speaking: Modern Music: Two Schools of Thought

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JJ Rocks Article # 235:  Modern Music: Two Schools of Thought
I see all modern music in only two forms. The creative, and the imitations. I can go on and on all day about the differences between these two schools of musical thought, but then there is a chance that I could bypass the point Im trying to make. Lets say that pop music (that describes most of the music that is commercially successful and being widely imitated), is in the same category as your five senses. Any of which can be stimulated as long as one of them captures your mood at just the time. But some may say that when you are just feeling it, youre only using half of your brain and deserting the musically intellectual side. And others will comment that some creative players treat music like its a scientific exploration and have no concern about the musical desires and emotions of the every day listeners. Either way, the difference between the two is that artistic music is all about self expression, and pop music is all about connecting to the masses. One is an art form, and one is a product. Your personal balance (or choice) between these two musical elements define who you are as a musician.

You just might be on an endless road trip going between casinos and hotels around the country playing in front of huge crowds. The only problem is that you have no chance of reaching your creative goals because all you are playing is cover music. So you try to get some original material together on your little time off as you write songs in the back of a van, or in the hotel bathroom late at night so you dont disturb your room mate. Then one day you find yourself deciding whether to continue on this pointless journey of endless stages imitating other peoples music. But you cant break away from the only security that you have known for years and your dreams just remain in your head.

Now lets take a look at musicians on the artistic side of the fence. Unlike the players selling out to cover music, these bold innovators are thinking about creating something that will etch their name in musical stone. It could either be high level playing that makes your name catch like wildfire with other musicians, or a compositional ability that rivals any Broadway production. Even though their dreams sometimes do have a small content of fame and fortune, their driving element is originality and artistic perfection. But in the meantime many of these artist are paying the bills by teaching and occasional weekend gigs. And most would rather do whatever it takes to stay out of a cover band. Even if it means counting their pennies each month.

The way that many musicians from either side of this fence view each other takes me back to the first paragraph. There has always been verbal stone throwing from both schools of thought. The pop side thinks that they are the ones that have all the feeling (and gigs). They also think that the artistic are just people that lock themselves in their rooms with "play along" Jazz recordings or copying classical scores because dont have what it takes to be up on the big stage. And the artistically minded view the pop side as musical sellouts and cowards that are afraid to try and find their true selves, and cant play anything with more than four chords.

But artistic musical creativity doesnt just confine itself to jazz or musical plays. Many great songs are written by very creative people that wind up on the charts and are being played every night somewhere in this country by a cover band. But I have not yet heard of someone in a traveling cover band writing an artistic piece of music that is being played by worldwide accomplished musicians. If there is a circumstance like that please let me know. And as far as Im concerned, as I sit here in paradise and write this article its obvious which route I have chosen. I can only hope that I can deal with any bumps in the road and eventually be remembered for not only expressing myself in a creative and artistic way, but for writing music (and articles) that people like. To many of us balance is the most important thing in life. The only problem is that it may take an entire lifetime to find it.

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