The contemporary music scene is like something from a film script of Dante’s Purgatory; chaotic swirling in a madness of its own making. You will find the bizarre and the avant garde inextricably mixed with the mundane and the familiar. Good music with decent harmonies are spoilt by the inclusion of yesterday’s lyrics and vice versa. Much of today’s music haye the tendency to harp on the same themes and nauseam. I am not speaking against the use of such themes; indeed novelists and writters have writen on such basic emotions like love, joy, sorrow, jealousy for the past 4000 years of recorded history and nobody has yet been heard to complain that literature is going stale. It is the recurring approach to them that is banal and vexes the soul. A ‘country’ song is not a country song if it is not sung in the traditional country twang, with the traditional themes of unrequited love, marital discord and so forth. It is this rigid categorisation of contemporary music that I find to be objectionable. Music should be as free as the air to scale the heights and plumb the depths of the human spirit.

Controversy rages as to where contemporary music is heading. Some critics say tto the dust-can, where it belongs with other man-made bilge. Yet even these concede that today’s music is in perhaps a transitional phase before the realisation of a universal and permanent expression of music. If this is so, then much of today’s music should be seen in a more tolerant eye by the entrenched establishment. Nevertheless, such embellishments as ‘vicious’, ‘loud’, ‘trashy’, ‘cacophonius’, ‘boring’, ‘slick’ and ‘downright degenerate’ inevitably greet the newcomer to the music scene.

Not surprisingly, supporters of these new and emerging kinds of music have got their own back on the establishment. Setting up their own fan clubs, newspapers and glossy magazines, they have proceeded with gusto to defend the validity of their choice on the one hand, to castigate the ‘stuck-upness’ of ther rivals on the other.

Popular music as is defined by Christain Darnton, is music that has been made for the people and hence the achievement of the business interests in Nashville, and in Tin Pan Alley and the recording companies have been to manufacture a music for the people on the largest possible scale. This was made possible after the 2nd World War by the rapid introduction of the gramaphone and the radio, and during the 50’s of the cheap transistorized radio.

The dessemination of the new kind of sound was accomplished relatively easy by the rise of a mass of people with little experience either in self-expression in music or with an artistic background, but with steadily increasing amount of money and leisure. Some form of release through music they sought, as every human community has sought it, and some form they were given. Thus the music industry which is now is the billion dollar bracket was born.

Earlier music comes in a confusion of colours and rhythms. There is a niche for every one. Rocks, Country, Soul, Disco, Funk, Pop, Pop Balladas Jack-rock each attract their own distintive band of followers. Differences are not sharply defined, and hybrid fusions showing the infulence of two or more of the main subdivisions of pop music are known; for example, the country-rock music that is played by both the Eagles and Poco. Country-rock shows influences from both mainstream rock and contry, the country half being represented by the provision of banjos, harmonicas and acoustic guitars. The rock side is manifest through the rhythms of the music and also because of the presence of lead and bass guitars and heavy dependence on the use of devices such as synthesizers. The relative extent to which the ‘country’ or ‘rock’ sounds permeate the music, varies with various groups of performers.

music is a world within itself
with a language we all understand
with an equal opportunity
for all to sing, dance and clap their hands…
music knows it is and always will
be one of those things that life just won’t quit…

Page 64 Optimist 1977

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