For Musicians Only

Are you a musician?  How many hours do you play per day?  If it’s two or more then please keep reading.

Well, what if you just really like music?  Oh well, you can read it too.  I really don’t want to exclude anyone…

Anyway, I’m a musician.  Long before I ever had any interest in our current geo-political situation, or any interest in sustainability, and definitely before any interest in giving up my oil addiction.  But I found that through the music I was able to become aware of all myself and my surroundings.  It was through the music that I realized the predicament that our current  situation of humanity is.

We are in a pickle.

Let me explain why:  Our oil is running out.  And the dollar is weakening.  As the dollar weakens, the trust amongst our communities weakens.  If that trust expires, then surely the consequences would disastrous.  If this begins to happen then we are in for some sticky situations in our society.  People would likely freak out and become violent.

MUSICIANS!  This is where we must take action.  I propose to you, my fellow musician, that music can change the atmosphere of an environment or situation.  We all know this to be true.  Punk and metal has a regular history of inciting violence.  However, the contemporary behavior of many punk and metal communities has been one of a vigorously supportive energy rather than destructive – the mosh pits have morally evolved!  And we all know that peaceful mellow music and/or good drumming can lead people to peaceful states of reflection.  And thus, we musicians should ensure that the peace be kept.

If you are already playing on the street then you have likely seen injustices occur in front of you.  I implore you to intervene on behalf of the victim.  How do you know who the victim is?  The first one to be hit – until you can determine otherwise.

What’s more, as keepers of the peace, we are obligated to share our music with love and for free.  If you are currently a musician that is getting paid for advertisements, tours, and/or film/tv, then I ask you with great respect in my heart to forsake the financial element that has poisoned the quality of the music.  If you have any doubts about this, simply listen to the music in a great many commercials and movies.  Most of it is quite crappy.  At least the corporate capitalists are paying for a bunch of junk.

Pay attention to your music.  It is a gift to be cherished and shared – not to be sold.

Consider this book by Jacques Attali, Noise:  The Political Economy Of Music.  This book blew my mind.  Attali is an economist who claims in his book that the music of a particular culture is always prophetic.  He means this in the sense that musicians are always on the fringes of a society, and from this fringe they are able to comment and educate from a relatively un-attached perspective.  Musicians are often the “early adopters” in societies, and they are always looking for the new sounds.

If we, as musicians, are to take Attali seriously then the implications are profound.  We are obligated to be the best musicians that we can be, since bad music is simply ignored.  We are also obligated to use words that are helpful in our songs.  What’s more, we are obligated to serve people with our music and in that sense we are public servants to our society.  Through music we can educate and uplift.  We can also perturb and guide towards catharsis.

To ignore these obligations is to ignore the aesthetics of musical ethics.

One of the other ideas in Attali’s book is that economics has to do with the infrastructure of our societies and music has to do with the superstructure of our societies.

This makes perfect sense when you consider that a healthy economy is what you will find in a happy, stable and productive society.  I would also suggest that a healthy and stable society finds the time to make music together – even if it is just a song in the church or a pub.

However, what we find in our society today is a ruined economy.  Which is basically just an indicator of the level of distrust and lack of stability in our society.  Now if you also consider the way that many of us experience music today you can see a symptom of a profound human disconnection that has occurred: Headphones.

Headphones are an isolator and deprive us of relationship to one another.  Headphones are a form of body language that says, “Don’t interact with me, I value this song more than I value you.”

One final thought – I took this picture at a bar in Berkeley – it reads:  No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetic expression.  If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses, they will see a vent in song for the aspirations, fears, and hopes, the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle.  Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement:  It is the dogma of the few and not the faith of the multitude.  ~ James Connolly, 1907

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