Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Music Serves No Master

In a recent post, I talked about a rather obvious but for some reason, little-known theme in western art and music, which is; everyone has a connection to a higher source of inspiration. 
On the other side of the coin, as it were, we have the views of people like Plato, who I have compared to Hitler in other posts, since he was for the control of artistic expression to serve the good of the state.
Now, all arguments about the definition of God aside, what’s the point of having inspiration if it doesn’t go beyond ordinary thinking? So we’re saying this Source or Inspiration is something that can’t be reached too well with normal thinking. Here we also get into the idea that normal thought processes can be conditioned and influenced by outside sources. And isn’t this what folks like Plato and Hitler are seeking to do anyway? Control and monitor the thoughts of the group.
It is in these circumstances that music or artistic expression in its purest form can be powerful in undoing this kind of conditioning. Interesting that in this ‘Age of Reason,’ you don’t hear about inspiration much. But I submit that reason is a good mistress but a bad master and music serves no master.
One frequently runs into folks with the idea that music should serve some political end, be they well meaning or not, but this only serves to drag the creative process down closer to Earth, as it were. It grounds the creative process until it is in danger of functioning like a Rube Goldberg machine.

Except that, unlike Rube Goldberg machines that eventually did something, reason that is aberrated by conditioning or bypasses installed by society, circulates around and around in a pretzel logic fashion, arriving at the same foregone conclusions every time.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Plato's Views On Music

People have long been aware, it seems, of the power of music. Long ago we have philosophers such as Plato, expounding, in his work about his new utopian republic, on what modes or scales were suitable and which should be banned. He makes this rather fascinating statement about music in general;
   "The introduction of novel fashions in music is a thing to beware of as endangering the whole fabric of society, whose most important conventions are unsettled by any revolutions in that quarter."                       
                                                --Plato, The Republic     (c.428 B.C.-c.347 B.C.)
It brings to mind Nazi Germany where the state controlled the art and it was all about the Arian Race. Also brings to mind Russia, under Stalin, where the state ran the media and a bad review could get you sent to a concentration camp or executed.
Dmitri Shostakovich was reputed to have slept downstairs with his bags packed so that, when the secret police came to get him, he wouldn’t wake up his family.
Now all of these are societies that could have used a little unsettling of their most important conventions and I think that Plato, unwittingly, hit the nail on the head as far as the definitions of what art and music are.
I daresay there has not been a society whose most important conventions did not need a little unsettling. Music and art are communication and they are nothing if they don’t cause people to come out of their conditioning and take a look at what is going on. When we used to study the blues, in school, they said it was a musical form innovated by the black slaves and was used to spread news. What news, we wondered? It was the news about the reality of their situation.

The status quo, in time, becomes an enslaving trap. Music should challenge the status quo. Music and art that doesn’t do this is, as Paul Simon says, ‘the sound of silence.' And thanks to Plato for defining what music and art should be.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

How I Came To Music Appreciation

I grew up loving classical music. As a young child, I found a recording of Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and fell in love. My music appreciation, at that time, was strictly classical, for the most part. Sure, every now and then I would hear some song on the radio that caught my fancy and I distinctly remember sitting in our living room when The Beatles made their American television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

You see, my parents always watched the Ed Sullivan Show and, suddenly, there were The Beatles and hundreds of screaming girls in the audience. I thought this was very strange; why would the girls be screaming? I looked back at my parents to get their take on it but there was dead silence. It was just as if someone had set a bomb off. I can still see the shocked expression on my mom’s face.

Well pop music remained just sort of a fascination and, as I studied my classical music, I grew more convinced that it was just a lower, debased form of music. Then I went to the Peabody Music Conservatory in Baltimore. Here was a very conservative musical institution that held the line on music teaching at the end of the eighteen hundreds. This was strictly classical and the composition teacher was famous for saying that jazz wouldn’t last. He had not stepped out for some decades, evidently, because there was jazz in every club in Baltimore.

I don’t know if it was in reaction to the extreme conservativeness of that environment or what, exactly, but my peers and myself decided we were definitely not conservative anymore. There was a lot of experimenting with altered states of mind, sexual activities and things of that nature.

We were innovating, really, although we didn’t know it. We decided that good music was good music no matter where or when you found it. We started an extracurricular activity called Music Appreciation, where students from all around would bring their favorite music and it would be played. These sessions went on for hours with no conversation whatever; only dead silence and rapt attention to whatever music was on. The program ranged from jazz to pop to classical.

After it was over, people would just move off and sort out their opinions on what they had heard or have a discussion amongst their selves. And it was in Music Appreciation that I learned there are more similarities than differences in different musical genres even if there are centuries separating them.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Music Taboos You Should Break

You might not be aware of it but there are a lot of music taboos in society. You probably haven’t thought much about it but here are some music taboos you should break;
  • That music that you like, that all your friends say is un-cool, you need to start listening to it and screw what your friends think.
  • It should not be taboo to start being your own music critic and stop relying on authorities such as ‘music critics’ and ‘media popularity.’
  •  It’s not taboo to like more than one genre in music. In fact, you can like as many different genres as you want.
  • It’s not taboo to think that music from an older time period is cool. Every age had its new music and artists that shook up the status quo.
  •  Music is not meant to be just in the hands of ‘professionals.’ It’s not taboo to pick up an instrument and start to learn to play it.
  • It’s not taboo to listen to your own Muse; ‘everybody’s got one.’

You can compare a lot of these taboos to the taboos that Moses’s followers had, coming out of Egypt. Sounds strange, right? But think about what Moses’s laws were trying to do; to separate those people from the people and culture of Egypt.
Now, every new generation has had its own music and mainly to what end? To create an identity that is separate from the previous generation. Take a look; it’s been going on for longer than you might think. Now it’s no longer counter-culture but very much a tool of the establishment. The suits that are collecting the money are blessing all these taboos and taking it to the bank. Meanwhile, culture suffers and creative freedom goes down the drain.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Nine Freaky Reasons New Music Could Get You Fired

As a composer and sociologist, I have tracked trends in history that are associated with new music. As a composer of new music, I feel duty-bound to reveal these findings to the society at large because they are not all ‘tea and crumpets,’ as the British say. Even though new music is a good thing overall, its introduction into society can initially cause some upheaval. This begins on a personal level and can spread, as Plato so sagely warned. Therefore, in the spirit of fair play, I present the following list of ‘Nine Freaky Reasons New Music Could Get You Fired;’
  1.  If you work in a classified area of the government, being caught listening to new music will most certainly cause you to be reprogrammed and reassigned. If you are one of the guys who are in charge of ‘pushing the button,’ this most assuredly is true. The reason behind this is new music tends to deprogram the mind rather quickly; you might start to think life is worth living and no longer have any desire to push buttons.
  2. You might tell your boss to ‘take this job and shove it!’ This will usually get you fired pretty quickly.
  3. You might be caught smiling and dancing a lot and this will make your boss think you are on something.
  4. You might violate the dress code by growing your hair and wearing kaki safari suits to corporate meetings and saying things like ‘whatever,’ after the profit graphs are presented.
  5. Your boss might overhear you, as you stand in front of the pictures of your wife on your desk, saying; “Well, how did I get here? This is not my beautiful wife and this is not my beautiful house!”
  6. Your boss may fire you after you ask to take a year off to go ‘look for America.’
  7. Your boss may fire you after overhearing you tell a friend that you are ‘back on the chain gang.’
  8. Your boss might take exception to you not using the intercom system but instead singing out loudly; “Big boss man! Can’t you hear me when I call?”
  9. You could get caught, covertly sabotaging the sound system in the office elevator.

And there you have it; some of the risks involved with new music down through the ages. Be thankful that, in this day and age, you only get fired. Back in the dark ages, listening to new music could get you stoned or burned at the stake.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What Fans Are Saying When They Listen To Music By Dizzy O'Brian

Dizzy’s Fan Mail has been building for some time now, so there has been quite a lot of feedback on what people say when they listen to music by Dizzy O’Brian. Here are a few select responses;
Paige Kelly wrote;
“Hi..recently i've been listening to your music…quite often and it's because your sounds really turn me on. I promise i will always…recommend it on my facebook. Have a nice day today and EVVRRYDAYYY!!!”

Dene Casres said;
“Hey, I personally think that it shows that you are more musically gifted if you can bring us different kinds of music than just playing the same thing tune after tune. I like your music very much because of its diversity and you are not tryin' to repeat yourself or any artist out there. I appreciate the creativity you put into your music style.”
From a true fan of all your music.

Mui Cheung wrote to say;
“wow i'm so happy I found your music... This tune A Dragon is so awesome, so I can play it over and over…It's soooo rare to find good and ineresting music nowdayzzz )))”
Thx. Mui.

Stephanie Wood wrote;
“your music I play on Repeat repeat repeat”

Roshel Wesley said;
“Rhapsody in black" ... Love this tune, it's pure magic!!”

These are but a few of the many fan letters that have been coming in, praising the new sounds of Dizzy O’Brian. 
 Find out why fans are saying what they do, after they listen to music by Dizzy O’Brian.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Where To Find Music Online

It’s fortunate that we now have the Internet since; if you want to find really new music, you pretty much have to look for music online. The record companies gave up taking any chances on something new years ago, giving the really original bands and artists the only option of making it on the Internet.
Here are just a few of the places that are good for finding music online.
  • ·      ReverbNation; This site has been around for quite a long time and still going strong. As a listener, you can get a free account and start adding bands you like to your favorites and listening to them on your ReverbNation Radio. There are bands from all different genre from all around the world. They are, of course ranked within their different genre according to how listeners vote.
  • ·      SoundCloud; Perhaps the biggest contender in music online. You will find even signed artists here. Again, you like or vote for tracks and they get ranked. You can find quite a lot of Indie stuff here but I don’t think the Indie selection is as good as ReverbNation.
  • ·      Jango; This is online radio. The musical artists can buy ‘plays’ and get their music circulated and you can ‘fan’ the ones that you like. I think the strong point about this one, from a listener standpoint is it will show you similar ‘stations’ to the ones that you like.
  • ·      Number One Music; this one is kind of new but seems to be gaining momentum. Again, you get a player and add the artists you like. You will find quite a lot of unique un-signed material here.
 If you like really new music, it may take a bit of digging around in any one site but it can certainly be worth it. Just because a band is ranked up top does not necessarily mean it’s the best; bands have ways of stacking the stats in their favor. But the beauty of it is; it’s your opinion that matters. It’s time to take this whole business of what’s good music online out of the hands of ‘authorities,’ be they music critics or even your friends and put it back where it belongs; with you.