Sunday, December 29, 2013

Primal Music as Political Action

We're building a foundation here. If you hang around long enough, you'll see where all of this is headed, insha Allah. It'll be a fun place once we get there, I think. And Allah knows best.

For now, though, consider this something of a musical rediscovery. I say "rediscovery" because, in the commodification of music, we have lost touch with its essential function as a means of restoring integrity and holism on a personal and communal level. I'm not sure that there was ever a time when people really thought about music enough to consciously reach those conclusions, but we can certainly deduce a communal awareness of the restorative properties of music, at least before the advent of recording devices and the selling of those recordings.

We are at a point in our musical history, as with our food and monetary systems, where only a very few truly benefit from current paradigms. The marketing of music has reduced this once sacred communal rite to something that is cheap, frenetic, and divisive. By subdividing the musical experience into genres and sub-genres catering to every possible and impossible aural fantasy, and through the digital, on-demand delivery of that content directly into our ears via wee buds, today's music industry has succeeded in isolating and confining us, each into our own sonic closet. Anxiety and existential agony are the only possibilities here, and the marketplace thrives on this.

Divide and conquer. It's a theme that will come up a lot.

This short clip on plainchant is fascinating. What's really interesting here is how the reporter can hardly help but reveal the total restlessness and fragmentation that modern musical paradigms have unwittingly induced within him. Check it out:

By marginalizing the communal and participatory aspects of the musical experience, we are groomed for our convenient, impotent roles as consumer and spectator. Panem et circenses. Bread and circuses, the Romans used to say. Entertain the people and they won't give two licks about service or policy.

That all falls apart, by the way, when people get together regularly to build something. We are all better off when we start to share and learn, building those essential links of human interdependence. And this can be so easily and enjoyably approached through primal music.

In more heterogeneous societies, commonalities are hit upon and explored. Where things are more static, traditional values are reinforced. In both cases, there is the enhanced possibility of bonds being formed and strengthened.

Exploitation is much more difficult under these circumstances.

Check out this work song, black American prisoners. Forced labor fatigues the body, no doubt. But just listen to how their souls fly!

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