Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Dying Language Of Music

As you all likely know, I'm really into music.  :)  I love it.  It's a 2nd language to me.  I would even go as far as saying that it's my first language. I am fluent in it and could speak it all day, everyday if I could find enough people that would be able to understand me.

Unfortunately, like Latin, I believe it may be a dying language.

Many people enjoy listening to music, but simply listening to it isn't the same as knowing music. There is deep theory behind music.  Many people hate theory.  Not me.  I love it.  The people that say they hate it, say so because "They don't want to be bound by the rules."

The problem with that statement is, they are only scratching the surface of theory.  Usually when they say they don't want to be "bound by the rules of theory" they are nothing more than Top 40 music listeners and they do not understand that even the Top 40 music they say they enjoy is bound by those rules. The sad thing about that statement is, most Top 40 music is bound by the most simplistic of rules as well such as 4/4 time signature, 1, 4, 5 or 1, 6, 4 chord progressions, etc. (Note that I said most, not all).

Once you get deeper into the rules, you find that rules aren't at all inhibiting.  They are freeing.  Without the rules, music would sound like a total mess.  There would be nothing close to what we know music to be.

For example, recently I was talking to someone and they said "I don't like [a particular artist] because their music is all dark, and in the minor key."  The thing is, dark music isn't always minor key.  In fact, the particular artist being referred to writes very little music in the minor key.  It's almost all major key.  It is dark though.  Dark does not equal minor key.   That person then went on to describe artists and songs they did like.  Gotye, "Somebody That I Used To Know", Beyonce, "Crazy In Love", Miley Cyrus, "Wrecking Ball", Ed Sheeran "You Need Me, I Don't Need You", etc.

Funny.  Not only are every single one of those songs in the same key, they are all in E minor.  Not major.  They aren't dark.  But they are minor.

I try to accept the fact that not everybody knows music deeply. Also, please understand that I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal.

In these times we live in, music is one of the top forms of entertainment.  It's bigger now than it ever was.  Sure, people don't buy records or CDs like they used to, but digital music sales are at an all time high.  (Unfortunately, so is digital music pirating, but that's another subject for another time). In light of this, schools are not getting the funding needed to properly teach music to students.  They barely get the funding to pay their teachers what they deserve.  Unfortunately, music is often one of the first things to go when schools lack funding.

Makes me wonder if this is why we have SO many Top 40 style musicians in this world.  People don't KNOW the deeper aspects of music and have not developed the ear for it as a result.

Let's look back in history.  Believe it or not, Classical music (which surprisingly many people claim to hate) is the foundation of much of contemporary music we hear today just like Latin is the foundation for many of the world languages spoken today.  There was true feeling and emotion in the music of days gone bye.  Musicians told stories, many times without words, through the pieces they wrote.  Listeners were able to connect...to feel what was on that musicians heart and mind.  They didn't have to be TOLD how the song was supposed to make them feel.

Much of today's Top 40 is flawless. To a fault.  It's over corrected, and over processed.  This strips out the "humanity" of the music.

I know this seems like a paradox coming from me...an electronic musician. But my roots are firmly planted in classical music and theory.  Yes, I have been known to use digital manipulation to correct vocals, or process effects on them, but I also make sure I keep my music deeply rooted in theory.  There are still plenty of artists today that do the same, they just don't make the Top 40.

My encouragement to you, dear reader, branch out.  Listen to something new. Put down your One Direction, Justin Beiber, Beyonce, and Drake CDs.  Listen to something you have never heard on the radio.  Go back to the 60s and slowly work forward.  Discover new bands and artists that some of your "weird" friends like.  Explore genre's you have not been willing to listen to before.

One band that I can suggest to listen to is Twenty One Pilots if you haven't already.  They refuse to be molded as Top 40.  Yet somehow, they are gaining popularity.

Listen to Midiboy.  He's pretty amazing. (Shameless self promotion).

Just branch out.

Help make music a language that is spoken again.