Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Homemade Music

It might seem funny to hear this from someone working on a recording project, but I think we're too reliant on recorded music. In my parent's day, it was normal for there to be a piano in a well set-up house. If a family had no one that played an instrument, it generally meant they were very poor and often a quiet effort would be made among neighbors to make sure the kids in the family had some access to musical instruments and instruction.

It remains to be seen if the US consumer's changed habits of thrift and frugality will last, or if like that Atkins diet fad, we will grow bored with homemade dinners and low-cost vacations. I hope that if it is a fad, that it lasts long enough for a good swath of our generation and the next to rediscover the satisfaction of making the things we want and need for ourselves; including music.
Just in case you're thinking what I'm afraid you're thinking
Playing "Guitar Hero" doesn't fill the bill. All you're doing there is learning a different computer keyboard and hand-eye coordination. Playing an instrument gives you hand-ear coordination which accesses a different and neglected part of your brain.

My Dad was an amateur musician in his youth, and when I was growing up he would still occasionally play a tune on the piano or guitar. It wasn't perfect or brilliant or spectacular, but it was wonderful. It was real and it showed me that real people make music. I think I relate to music very differently because of those early experiences. If all you've ever heard are the artificially perfected sounds of a studio recording, how are you ever going to have the courage to make imperfect real music yourself?

Science is finally catching up with what my parent's generation knew. People need to hear live music and I think everyone needs to at least try to make some music themselves. Take a singing class. Pick up a cheap tinwhistle. Take a beginning guitar class at your local community college. If not for your own sake, do it for your kids or your sibling's kids so that if one of them is born with an undiscovered musical talent that he or she will have the courage to give music a try. That's what my Dad playing "Stardust" on the piano imperfectly, and with great love, did for me.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

It used to be that the only way to have music while walking or working outdoors was to sing or whistle. Recorded music is also killing the art of whistling because now we can carry music with us via ipods etc.

MaineCelt said...

Well said. Although so many my age and younger have been deprived of the chance by the clutter of pop electronica, it's never too late to discover that organic creativity that lies at the heart of ceilidh culture--a spark, an ember, that smolders in all of us.

Here's another take from a Scottish writer earlier this week. I believe you've put words to a musical theme that's floating through many minds!