I am sadly near constantly grounded from the dizzy heights of sporting satisfaction by two perpetually torn hamstring ligaments. That, and a myriad of other bodily boundaries. However, I do love to jog short distances, as far as I am allowed before falling to the floor in a crippled heap. It was on one of these jogs last week that I got to thinking about music. It was a beautiful morning and I listened to only one song on repeat as I ran, ‘Solsbury Hill’ by Peter Gabriel. I had been reminded of this timeless classic a few days prior and had been surreptitiously thrown back to childhood, and memories of the leading melodic pattern (Dah – Dah – Dadah) (if you know the song then that will make sense). As I ran, my thoughts on music unfolded as follows.
There are two prongs to music.
The first prong, within which we find ‘Solsbury Hill’, strives to involve the listener in an emotion. It has a purposeful narrative and touches many people emotionally. It celebrates an aspect of human life, be that positive or negative, and helps open us to analyse the very purpose of our existence. This type of music is easily definable as Art. Music from the first prong, when favoured with fame, becomes timeless: classics and music-art that is used in film and theatre for many years to come. Fame derived from this prong is long-lived as the subject matter hits a nerve.
The second prong, often lambasted as a shameless cash-grab by those in the first prong, is trend based. Musical creators in this prong also often have monetary motivations that resist or define what they can create. Images, cultures and lifestyles are condensed into 3 minute visual molestations that are as important as the music itself. Personal relativity with the artist is less intimate than within the first prong and within this the lasting connection is lost more easily. Music that falls into this prong is often hugely popular for a short period and then rendered utterly obsolete by the next trend. The purpose of many of these artists is to make money, which some would say is an art in itself.
Most would argue that there is greater value gleaned from art created by those in prong one, however one should not denigrate those in prong two to obsolescence. In fact, it is within this short lived, often cynical, creativity that we find the most transparent portrayals of our modern culture. Overzealous sexual thrusting and the objectification of sexuality has been on trend for the last years and as this peters out another bastion of the banal will take its place.
As appreciators of art, we must be open to understanding the value of all art for what it can teach us about who we are.
(Photo – Eli Woodbine, Wards Island, Canada, 2016)