The Arts and the State of Progress
I would like to bring attention to the arts, and the rhetoric in which in today's paradigm is projected. There is a common idea that the arts are valuable, however there is not the actual translation of that to any observations on the ground to reality.
I would like to bring attention to the arts, and the rhetoric in which in today's paradigm is projected. There is a common idea that the arts are valuable, however there is not the actual translation of that to any observations on the ground to reality. I am a musician an have had to spend my life as a musician as a street performer. I engage 100% of the creative process in my execution of my art. Others choose to automate the process denying themselves the hard work that brings the fulfillment of virtuosity.
This is to introduce something that I feel not many people realize, and that is how art mirrors real life. In the case of the Zeitgeist Movement and it's goal toward the Resourced Based Economy, there should be a connection with improving the efficiency and output of everything. So when we talk of the arts, specifically in my case, music, we need to consider all the forces and influences that have affected it, specifically pertaining to the rhetoric of support for the arts. It is rarely backed by actual support. I used to deal with arts funded bodies who could do nothing for individuals and most of their effort was to maintain their funding, which merely required them to write reports.
So when recording started, it was originally thought to be a mechanism to promote the performer. This became very quickly hijacked by its ability to generate money, which meant that the people who ended up making the money were not the musicians. Naturally the (real) musician's focus is their art. Then you look at the underlying forces generated by the competitive market system which requires anyone to minimize effort and maximize money generated, which requires automation. Notice the move from that point from the performer to "the music", and that is what they were selling. All forms of fashion were generated, and catchy little tunes, and thus the birth of pop music. It is necessary to trivialize the effort that anyone puts into anything because that concentrates profits to the experts of profit-making. It was necessary to create a system of copyright (in the guise of protecting the performer), but the profit-experts knew they could easily gain ultimate control.
So you see from that point there was a dumbing-down of the quality of what was being presented, because that is where the profits were going. (the withholding of efficiency so that things can break down so more can be sold) The substance was slowly drained out of what used to be the virtuosity of skill. Adulation was the goal rather than the substance of the performance. There was a concerted effort to promote anti-intellectualism, which is evident when anyone mentions the word "classical" in reference to music. It has to be noted that the classical period is only a small part of that picture, there is also renaissance, baroque, romantic (including its legacy), as well as a very vibrant modern contribution, including latin and folk.
Notice that in the past, before recording, a performers copyright was their ability to play. This was made redundant by the recording. They do not want anything that is exclusive to anyone or any moment (except if it is the profit makers), it has to be reproducible to maximize profit, and people have to tire of it so that more can be sold. What happened in past times was the musicians would perform incredible feats of virtuosity to gain the competitive edge just to survive. A lot of this could also have been generated naturally, because at a certain level of accomplishment the progress is self generated through the focus and passion, and when one gets to a certain level of achievement one sees more possibilities with knowledge and experience not available to someone who is untrained.
Another casualty of automation is the absolute power of the skilful performance which is in fact a mutually beneficial and mutually engaging activity. The focus of the listener creates the quality of the performance, especially when the music is technically demanding. It is the same for any focused community gathering where positive outcomes are necessary. There are two negative social forces in play here. One is the amplification of the sound, which one could speculate is symptomatic of an inability to listen, and the other is the relegation of music to the ad-infinitum dross of the background. So you see the two forces working against the actual implementation of putting value on the arts (specifically music) which is the spectator syndrome which requires to be entertained. They will never be satisfied, because they are in control of the on-off switch. This empty space is often filled with self-medication, and neurosis.
I see the wisdom of engaging our skill as living beings can and that is what art represents. One can spend a lifetime building on a skill that creates a unique contribution different than any other who has not attempted that skill. This has to do with overcoming obstacles, and using the plasticity of the brain to solve problems. The main achievement of these skills is in the moment, and the reproduction of them in any other moment, but also unique to that moment. This is very inspiring and the pleasure it gives the receivers also fuels the performer, thus it is a mutually beneficial process. the receivers become inspired and the performers have the incentive to improve.
I see a casualty of the arts even now in the alternative indie music industry. Here I do not recognize the playing of music by technicians, because they are not actually playing it. This is the ultimate replacement of the performer by a machine, and it is not the person it is the sound. I feel it is a misuse of effort because the technical skills can also be spent on actually playing an instrument, where the physical limitations actually give the its special and unique character, and alternately their technical skills would be better spent on science or engineering, instead of making musicians redundant.
Also in this alternative indie music industry, is the casualty of the effort that is needed to make something better, where someone can copyright a simple tune and try to attack anyone who tries to resemble it. Typically those musicians really use the same tunes but just write different words. The harmonic and rhythmical possibilities are severely limited by an odd perception of themselves that they can be proud of what they do not know. (they seem to be proud of not knowing anything about music) I must just add the fact that I live in Australia and this is the experience here, and exceptional performers often go elsewhere.
There is not much recognition for instrumental music, and unless someone is singing it does not get the attention. Ultimately everything that one knows is built upon what they have heard from others anyway, and what you can play has special significance to you, but not necessarily to others. A musician has to have two overlaying perspectives in any moment, what is actually being played, and the technical knowledge of what it takes to play it. I have specifically concentrated on instrumental music, because it encourages open listening unbiased by the mental activity associated with cognising words.
I see a symptom of failing in our social system being mirrored in the arts. The lack of attention to detail in the intricacies of our lives i.e. the inefficiency of economics, the purposeful withholding in efficiency and the inbuilt redundancies manifesting incredible waste and destruction, is a symptom of not perfecting a living being as an efficient life being. Popular music depends on quantity not quality, and the focus is on individual stars to the exclusion of all those equally (and often more) competent. The market forces creating a restriction to actual advancements that might make things more efficient but suppressed because of the existence of a profit system. Musicians who can't compete with those market forces do not have the resources to improve themselves as a musician so the either give up or have to be satisfied with limited skill or knowledge.
One thing I have noticed with (some) listeners, is that they refuse to enjoy something unless it is "perfect". They have been trained to expect perfection because all imperfections are removed artificially in the recording process. With an instrument like a trumpet it can take hundreds of takes to get a high note to sound nice. This is not noticed in real time because people do not have focused attention and so do not notice. In real life the bad note is accidental and the energy of the moment can create better notes that cannot be reproduced in the artificial situation of a studio. I find that someone can watch my performance and if anything goes wrong in real time they loose interest and walk away. So rather than celebrate the good, the tendency is to react to imperfection. I then have to compromise my performance so they don't notice, and this is ultimately destructive for my own progress. It is often because of the hostile nature of the performance amidst multitudes of distractions.
So I continue to perform on the streets, where I do what I want to do, when and for how long I want to do it. I perform totally free of charge and expectation (after extensive training) to a mostly sober audience. My reward is being able to play the music in a hostile situation to the best of my ability. I do not have to compete with anyone, and if someone else turns up and insists on wanting to perform I go elsewhere. I understand that if I get used to that performing situation that it is different to having a focused audience and to do that I would have to start again, but it is a default situation the alternative being not to play music for a living. I imaging my role in a Resourced based economy that there would be a place I could play where it is celebrated and have a place to live as well. The current paradigm allows me to make sufficient to remain on the road, but not enough to live anywhere which would require twice my present income, as well as having to compete with all the local musicians (which I refuse to do). However I have become a debt slave (figuratively not actually) where I have to put in long hours of performance and there is not sufficient time to add to my skills as I would like as recovery is required, and as I get older, it becomes more severe.
One of the main observations that I have made is that music in Public places displaces those who want to play. This is a part of the extensive network of white noise which is responsible for trivializing human effort. It makes no sense to automate something that someone wants to do. This is one of the basic needs and that is the need for meaningful livelihood. It also includes the need for social acceptance and recognition, where one can apply effort to improve oneself and then give of oneself to the benefit to others.