As i sit here watching Sydney Australia celebrate their entry into the year 2000 (as the Millennium starts next year), it makes me realize how diverse music has become. Within the past one hundred years we went from the Edison machine to DVD. From basic radio to wireless internet streaming audio, from... As human kind have harnessed electricity, we have used it to bring about incredible changes for music in both creation and reproduction.
While some might argue that the Edison machine and low bandwidth internet streaming audio are about equal fidelity-wise, arguably, it makes one wonder if we have progressed at all! Of course we have progressed, but at the same time we have become steps removed from the real thing. In the early 1900's, live acoustic music was heard in virtually every town. In fact live acoustic music was the de facto standard when one went out for a good time! There were no huge PA systems blaring pulsating bass and sizzling highs throughout the bar. Instead it was a lone pianist, a jazz ensemble or big band that drive the audience to musical ecstasy. Only those with great talent were able to make it to the top as there were no studio effects like voice pitch correction, 64-channel mixing and overdubs.. let alone electronic harmonizers. If you wanted a vocal harmony you hired more talented vocalists. Because the radio was live, if you made a mistake it was not a "we'll fix it in the mix" situation.
As time went by musical performances could be recorded once and then distributed on a playback device (shellac, vinyl, tape cartridge, CD, etc). The record labels loved this as it was their very first experience of paying musicians less for "performing" more. A recording of the performance could be played and replayed over and over again while only paying the musicians once. Imagine the profits! As we fast-forward to the beginning of electronic instruments, this eventually allowed virtually anyone to create music on a home computer. Software such as Sonic Foundry Acid allows anyone to take samples of music and add to it, rearrange it, add effects to it to compose their own recording! Imagine a million Puff Daddys roaming the earth! And that is the problem...
While there are people with great talent releasing wonderful music, there is a vast amount of music which seems to be created by those with less than spectacular talent. The very well covered lawsuit of David Bowie suing Vanilla Ice because of the song "Ice Ice Baby" was just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended). When people such as Puff Daddy make million virtually stealing other musician's music is where creation may be taking a back seat to repopularization.
Repopularization happens all the time in the fashion world. You do not need to be a blind man not to se the 60's and 70's retro look coming back. Yep, retro... another word for repopularization or regurgitation. Churning and burning. What's old is new again. While we have 1980 recording studio power in the hands of a year 2000 computer it seems we may be losing the desire to discover the truly talented musicians in favor of "releasing a marketable product".
What worries me as we approach the next millennium is will the big labels ever find a way to eliminate talented musicians altogether in favor of computer created music. Music styles such as house and trance are close in the capability of this reality. Maybe the only saving grace is that we humans desire to see a pretty face (and body) attached to the music. Millie Vanilli anyone?
So i call out to you to seek out real music. You remember the type like in the early 1900's... live and acoustic. Support those recording labels and musicians which you feel show true talent. Seek out the smaller labels or forget labels in general and search the internet for MP3 files of great musicians. There are many out there and they offer their music virtually for free. We here at Enjoy the Music.com may not always review the most "audiophile" of recordings, though we strive in finding the best music. Alas, it seems the better the performance the worse the recording sound quality. When we find the best of both worlds it is truly a miracle.
In the i ask each and every one of you to take a good listen to the music you hear today. Is it great music or a great recording... or both? Are you looking to hear the third violinist in the second row play that one small phrase or are you taking in he entire essence of the musical performance? One of the best things in the 1990's was that so many different genres of music could be within the popular Billboard Top 10. From teen pop from N Sync and country music's Dixie Chicks to hard hitting music from Orgy. The sheer diversity may be our only savior as classical music and acoustic jazz virtually die away from mainstream media. Regardless of if you, a computer, or some major recording label PR firm created the sounds you hear, in the end what really matters is that you...