Last night as I was sitting at an Annie Gallup show listening to her music, I realized that I do a lot of listening to a lot of different music. As I began to think about it, I remembered that in grammar school we had Music Appreciation classes.
These classes presented every kind of music you can imagine, from African Folk songs to Mozart to Charlie Parker. We heard everything every Tuesday and Thursday between 10:30 and 11:30. What a wonderful experience for a young mind and two young ears, eh?
The powers that be have seen fit to remove both Art and Music from the curriculum (partially, I believe, because it stirs the intellect and intelligent, educated people are difficult to lead around by the nose. Think about how many Americans still think that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11). And that has left an education void that is being filled with Hip Hop and Ashlee Simpson’s bludgeoning of music.
It use to be that we could actually depend upon the media to expose us to new music. When FM Radio was in it’s hayday, you could hear Jimi Hendrix followed by Joni Mitchell followed by the Beatles followed by Frank Sinatra followed by Miles Davis. What one station would be so brave as to bring you that today?
So many radio stations being programmed by Clear Channel and such, only play a narrow band of the musical spectrum, but if you give even a cursory glance to anyone’s CD collection, or check out the list on their Ipod, you’ll find that our tastes run the gamut.
Satellite Radio is trying to fill the void, but much of their programming is by station, so you must move thru the categories yourself. But that’s what today’s post is about. You must listen to all kinds of music. I don’t listen to much HipHop as I come from the Dylan age of lyrics, when someone either had something to say, or we didn’t listen. But I still try to hone in on the beats, the samples, the rhythm of the rhymes, and the rhyme schemes themselves, even tho they are painfully simplistic.
It is important for us, as composers, musicians, performers, artists of all genres and ilk and as audients to expose ourselves to as much different kind of music as we can find. All of it becomes filtered thru our experience and our particular gifts and is distilled into what our art is.
We learn from everything we hear and I take it as a personal responsibility to expose my friends to music and artists that I think are saying something unique and artistic. I am thrilled when I come across an artist who is bringing expertise, depth and meaning, and musicality to the party. And I love sharing that thrill of finding a new resonant voice.
Off the top of my head I can think of many artists that I recommend you give a listen to:
Michael Smith; Peter Finger; Buddy Mondlock; David Wilcox; Janet Robin; Laurence Juber; Anais Mitchell, and Tom Prasada-Rao to name a few. They all have websites under their own names and you can hear their music there.
There are also countless sites on MySpace and CD Baby that offer music you never heard that should be heard. I invite you to please post your recommendations here. Let’s spread the word about music we care about. It starts here.