Who fights who whom?

If the powerful set the agenda and have the money leaving the majority with a slim chance, depute their talents, or breaking through to the heights talent can take one – be it in any of the art form – then turning away and ‘doing your own thing regardless’ is not a form of taking power to yourself but of surrendering.

It doesn’t seem like surrendering because you pursue your art form but you no longer care for the recognition, and you know that you are worthy of it when you see the slight talent that gets noticed.

So, those of us who write critically are not being negative. We are the only warriors on the front line.

To Make and then Exhibit

I understand anyone who wants to play with their art form. To expand, expound and test their methods, their materials, their own thoughts and in the main to deconstruct all they have been taught and then build up again from the bottom. Or if not the bottom from a place where they are surrounded with the pieces that have traditionally been their  art form.

What I don’t understand is then showing those pieces as finished works of art. To put three words together and pretend you have written a poem, fill a frame with nothing and pretend you have a work of art, play silence. You may create some sort of deeper appreciation for the real thing but you have not proven you are an artist to be taken seriously.

Unless it is by the funding institution that gives the money for you to do these things.

How Communities Bond

Humanity isn’t always interesting but sometimes it is fascinating. Sociologist and anthropologists find new things about the dynamics of society and how people relate to each all the time, and these facts make a huge difference to how we act. Or should, if we knew about them.

Take the example of two people in the UK living next door to each other. One is British by birth the other obviously not. Every Sunday they wash their cars and they chat as they do so. Friends? Neighbours? Liberal society working well? Not really, for the British man, born and bred, turns out to be a neo nazi member of the British National Party.

These kinds of casual interactions do not cement society, but the ones they have found out that do, are amazing. People who dance together and sing together and, yes, eat together, bond better. In fact singing together is the number one most importance thing  we can do to end racism.

People who bay with the wolves know more than we ever thought.

Soothing Music

When I attended musical appreciation at school the scientist in the group came up with a definition of music – ‘noise with rhythm’. Our teacher refined that to ‘noise with rhythm meant to be listened to’.

I remember thinking the definition was incomplete for how was this different to language? The ideas around meaning came later to me when I was actually at university and not in a general studies course during A Levels. We are bound to seek for a meaning, in everything. That is why we have music because we imbue noise with rhythm and listen to it for pleasure or warning. That is why we have gods, to explain our feelings of insecurity and explain away our fears of death.

We can always come up with a trite definition that strips the humanity away from the defined. But then we lose the fact we are humans being very human. And since we are the foundation of every definition we need a clear definition of who we are first, before the definitions of anything else can make any sense at all.

So Many Songs

Plato distrusted music. He thought it played upon the emotions and like many intellectuals his rationality was paramount and anything that got in the way of ‘clear’ thinking was to be avoided. Drugs are another case in point.

The thing is to always acquaint emotions with hysteria, lack of thinking and instant judgments you later regret is to misunderstand emotion. Emotions are varied and even the rational mind is emotional because it is being cold. Coldness is an emotion. It is true you can be in an ’emotional’ state but I think we always are. I think it impossible not to be. Obviously there are emotional states that are more conducive to wisdom than others, but that doesn’t make them automatically correct.

Altruism comes with emotions and I would far rather live in an altruistic society than the capitalist one we do live in.

The Dated Game

Spent a while listening to Dean Martin today and realised how music has a definite sound in every generation. This is something I should have found obvious because of my classical music appreciation studies that went through the development of classical motifs and styles. This is very pronounced in the electronic age with different equipment and sound studio techniques, but if you think about it is just as obvious in past centuries as musical instruments were created and refined at different times.

And just because it is new it becomes a generations ‘thing’  and lights up their dancing, adding to the milieu so that every generation gets its characteristic music. Even within the traditionally differing music of countries. Layers and layers if generational nuances.

Listening now to the music that is my mother’s generation I hear the distinct melody, the resonance of the voice given prominence over the music. And this is before one listens to the words. And so one can see how generations define themselves as different from each other and yet after those generational differences fade, you can look back over a hundred years and find styles you love that were your grandparents or great grandparents. Because there is no competition, after a while there is just the music, the times, the places, the living.

And of course the dancing.

Lacking Skills

I love working with painters because my stick creatures never really manage to hit the mark. I recall my mother when she was younger knew the artists Sheila Fell, who tragically died quite young, and she used to pick up Sheila’s charcoal and pencil sketches from the floor and hang them on her wall. She once said to her she wished she could draw as she did and Sheila replied that she wished she could write as my mother did.

Artists in differing disciplines lack much of the ego and jealousy that can attend knowing someone in your own field, and appreciation takes over. Trying to view the world from another’s perspective, trying to understand the form and internal structures in their work, trying to understand their understanding of the history of thought in their particular art form. It becomes an expression of life which one can use when one goes back to writing.

In the same fashion when I wrote some lyrics I was interested in the background music someone else wrote for the words and one of the most difficult things I have ever done was to be given two bars of music and asked to write words to go with it. It was trying to mirror the internal music of the words with the music itself.

Marrying art forms is definitely a refined pleasure.


There were three occasions when I was a teenager when for no reason I could imagine, I heard pieces of music that triggered something in my brain and I could no longer feel my body at all for a few seconds. They all occurred when I was sixteen to seventeen and I have ascribed them to hormonal changes ever since.

The first time I was listening to Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and a particular solo violin phrase in the first movement. The second was the opening phrase of Mozart’s Jupiter Concerto and the third was the introduction mix to Solitary Man on the release of Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night.

The sense these short pieces of music gave me has been described by others as being ‘transported’. All I can say is that it was at once both an unexpected and delicious feeling that has remained in my memory though never recaptured by remembrance.
Nor is it something one looks for.

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