Monday, December 31, 2012

Whose music is it, anyway?

It's been 20 years since a wise
old poet/printer/street musician named
Tim Lander and I sat one misty night
in the MacDonalds on Granville Street,
and he told me it was his sense that human beings needed music
in a very powerful way...

...and that given how many terrible things seem to be happening
all the time these days, music was the only thing holding
us together. and getting us to the next morning.

I remember his words because every day since that night,
they have rung more and more true.

Music seems to be everywhere these days. Sometimes, it's
the Clash or the Cars as muzak, trying to
fill the emptiness
in the aisles at the supermarket and echoing down the canyons
at the mall. It's throbbing out of cars, so loud it seems surreal.

There's music in all those earbuds running up from Ipods
and cel phones on the bus, on the street, on the plane -
music as a wall, a separator trying to create some semblance
of personal space where none exists,
trying to keep reality
just far enough away to feel safe for a minute or two...

Music is amazing. It may be
the most beautiful thing we
have created as a species.

When we celebrate life, we do it to music. When we bury
our dead, music walks with us. When we think no one can
understand how we feel, music reassures us someone does
(or did). When we want to dance, music says "Yeah!".

It's power to soothe, pleasure, define, inspire, communicate
and motivate us rivals that of food, sex and creation stories,
and like these other fundamentals, it is a commonality
among human communities.

All god's children make music
and listen to music. Music has
been an open source project
for thousands of years.

Generation upon generation of musicians, composers and listeners have listened,
learned, created, taught and otherwise contributed to the creation of a universe of sounds, traditions, styles,
theories and possibilities.

Every day of the way, musicians have been traveling,
playing, listening and copping licks, hooks, melodies
and verses from each other and taking them another
heartbeat further.


We live in a time when it's possible to access music-
both in live performance and recordings - from all over
the world. We can listen back to recordings more than 100
years old. The music we hear today is the source code
for the music of tomorrow.

Music is a heritage we all -
everyone of us - have created
together, had our fun with
and in our turn, welcomed new
generations into that unbroken circle...

They are
the first to have grown up
immersed in a truly global listening experience -
the most sophisticated musicians and listeners in human history. The music their children
will make is beyond our imagining.

So who does music belong to?

I think it belongs to all of us...
but I don't think any of us own it.


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