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When The Music Dies.

 The level of musicianship today is light years ahead of where it was in the early days of rock n' roll, this is not a matter of musical skills, as the earlier musicians were every bit as knowledgeable as today's artists, it is more an evolution of innovative techniques and equipment. Yet today's rock music seems to be in a creative holding pattern with everyone waiting for the other guy make the next leap in the creative process. Obviously, in the early years, with rock being in it's infancy, nearly everything that was done was a "new sound" and every variation on a theme seemed to foster a new genre of rock. Every genre had it's individual performers who stood head and shoulders above the rest, forging new directions, expanding and redefining the sound, drawing inspiration from the influences of the earlier musicians that they admired, and each of these in turn, inspiring younger musicians to emulate them in their own personal quests for musical immortality.

 But, are we running out of new ideas?, have we reached the limit of what can be done with twelve notes?, and have we finally run out of songs to sing that haven't been sung before?

 The social issues are nothing new, just the time, place, and occasionally the names change, every "Next Generation" perceives themselves as the original musical messiahs, bringing their take on social injustice to the public's collective consciousness. The, (socially relevant), lyrical content was covered by the previous generations to no avail, but that's "old people's" music, certainly not pertinent to the issues today. I can almost hear the dull rhythmic log thumping, wafting up through the chasm of time, of neanderthals sitting around a fire grunting out protests at the social injustices suffered at the hands of the uppity upright homo sapiens. Like I said "nothing new".
 Life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, (or lack thereof), has been covered over, under, sideways, and down by the Country, Blues and Pop genres. Lyrically speaking there truly is nothing "new" to sing about, and in the end, all we are left with are those original twelve notes.

 Maybe the record companies are at fault, after all they do spend a lot of money, and time, molding a slew of mildly talented, post pubescent performers into the latest, pre-pubescent Britney Spears-like, heart throbs. These "teen idols" are taught to sing and dance, and are primped and fluffed into superstardom before ever entering the studio, while the pre released, rubber stamped publicity packets insure an over-night success story. The marketing is so well done that the real music rags, those not aimed specifically at adolescents, are having a difficult time finding any truly unique music to tout.
 The other side of the record biz is the "sign 'em all" and let the fans sort it out strategy, which leaves us with a plethora of talented musicians who are nonetheless musically banal, and in the end everybody sounds like everybody else, while the record companies profit through quantity over quality.
 Buy the CD now and by the end of the week it finds it's way to the bottom shelf of your music collection, as the fervor dies down and re-focuses on the new flavor of the month. A vast number of the bands today are propped on the shoulders of a small fan base as they tour from venue to venue with a dozen or so of the other cult worshipped synonyms. Nearly extinct are the Super Groups, the ones where nearly everyone has at the very least, "The Greatest Hits of (insert supergroup here)" in their collection. These industry giants have been around for decades and are either disbanding or, (lets face it), dying off, with apparently no one to whom they can pass on the mantle.

 Maybe the fans themselves are the ones to blame, we do tend to jump at anything hoping it might be the next great trend, and we all want to be at the forefront to say "oh yeah, I was listening to them when they first started out". We tend to adhere to the marketing that tells us what we should be listening to, if we want to be a part of the "in crowd", then we don our uniforms and thereby signify our allegiance with one sub-genre or another. Music TV and radio play pretty much what they are told to play by the marketing department, and you can almost set you watch to the latest song by "so and so", as they try to hit you on a regular basis with whatever the record companies are currently trying to push. Hear a song often and you'll start to like it, hear it often enough to learn the lyrics and it soon becomes one of your favorites. This is not to say we have absolutely no control over our likes and dislikes, but it is, nevertheless, a fact of which the record companies are well aware. It makes you wonder if the music genres most popular in various regions of the country, are that way due the majority of listeners preferring it, or just the majority of stations playing it, like the chicken and egg conundrum. Irregardless, we seem to be settling for whatever they want to throw at us.

 Maybe it's the musicians, after all, that is where it begins and ends. How many bands have created that new sound, yet opted , (or were forced), into the more commercially viable music, thinking, "first we'll play what we have to, (to get signed), then we can play what we want later", only to find that when later comes they forgot where they started. Perhaps, due to the shear volume of performers today, the truly inspired shake, rattle, and rollers are left to wander the forest aimlessly in search of, "that right place, right time" encounter. It is undeniable, though, that all the big moves on the musical chessboard seem to have already been made.

 The risque step into Rockabilly/Rock by Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Danny Gatton, ..... whose courage to buck the status quo inspired everything that was to follow.
 The huge leap of faith by the Beatles, from English rockabilly to their unique sound that is still being sorted out and emulated to this day.
 The ethereal orchestrations of Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, ...... who inspired us to close our eyes and just listen again.
 Groups like Yes, King Crimson, Rush, ...... who brought technical artistry back to the lime light.
 The early Heavy Metal of Deep Purple, Foghat, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, ...... that inspired a generation of power chord purveyors.
 The British Invasion of Cream, Mayall, The Rolling Stones, Eric Burdon, ....... when they brought the Blues back home to America.
 The Punk Rockers, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Clash, ..... who brought the punk movement out from behind closed doors.
 Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, .... who said the hell with it, and carved out their own unique niche.
 Performers like Clouds, Roy Buchanan, ...... who inspired a whole new sound, only to find, as the train left the station, that no one saved them a seat.

  There are of course contemporary bands that have stirred the waters from time to time. Pearl Jam made a nice splash, but by the time they released the second album they were already awash in the wave of a clone war. Dave Matthews brought us a great sound, Springsteen, Melissa Etheridge did their part to nudge rock a little further outside the current restraints. Stevie Ray Vaughan brought blues up a notch , Opeth added a nice touch to the heavy metal scene, while country is still country but with a nice new shiny blues/rock beat. Still there is nothing that stands out enough to foster a completely new direction for music to explore.

 One thing that's fairly certain is that, whether due to the immense volume of music today, lack of music appreciation, lack of inventiveness, or a lack of desire to step outside the norm, we seem to be running in circles with no clear destination in sight. Maybe the next great sound is still sitting around some backyard campfire or rattling the walls of someone's garage just waiting to be set free and discovered.
 It's not the intention of this article to rag on anything, or anyone in particular , I'm only making a personal observation, and of course this is just today's opinion, so let's see what tomorrow brings, and while it does appear that all the big moves on the musical chessboard have already been made, let's hope we are entering the middle game, not the end game, and there are a few Grandmaster's left. We are definitely ready for a little "shake, rattle, and roll".


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Origin Of Music | Psychology and Music | Pianos - Acoustic vs. Digital | To Compose Music , First Learn to Improvise | Guitar Buying Tips
Protecting Your Acoustic Guitar | To Tab or Not To Tab | Copyright Info | When The Music Dies | Good,Bad,Remarkable | Music Promotion
Requiem For The Songs

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