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Music is a parallel world to the one we live in. It’s another language that expresses the times, the stories and the personal virtues of us as human beings. Music has the capability to make us feel on top of the world when other times, it can give us a surge of overwhelming sadness. It’s one of the only mediums that can delve into other branches of the media. It’s adored all over the world in scarce cultural rituals to the iconic surroundings of Glastonbury Festival.

Music flows through all ages within history and at the very start of our existence, songs were used as a tool to source food, wellbeing and worship. It has been recorded that tribes use the art of chanting to channel good fortune when hunting. They grew knowledge with the surroundings they were located with and grew a sense of gratification for the resources that were available to them. The Native Americans for example used music as a form of documentation so their stories can be transcended to generation to generation. It’s a piece of their tribal identity and today within the wide range of genres we have available to us; you can faintly hear the foundations of what these people and many others from the prehistoric period have left to us.

We as individuals from this day and age have constructed so many different entities and concepts just based on the style of music we choose to listen to. We have hip hop, a genre which was birthed due to the Poverty happening around America. We have rock n roll, a alternative to the sugar coated doo-wop bands of the 1950’s, just coming to think about it, the genres we have created are due to our yearning for fresh substance and information. The industry is one big evolutionary cycle; material will keep on rebounding due to the sheer factor that it was once popular before.  Today’s charts is a excellent example of this, take your Gaga’s and Mar’s, both being these well established stars as well both evidently seeking inspiration from the past when performing and releasing records.  I could quite simply say that these artists are not enforcing any of their own direction on top, but they do. It can be anything from a fashion item, a trademark move or phrase to an alter ego.

However it takes a certain number to challenge these attributes, it’s the people that we can relate to when we tune into their music and the people that confront the usual within the music scene. Billie Holiday is one of my all time favourites and there was a clip which will always stick within my mind when I listen to her voice. It was a piece of footage of her singing ‘‘Strange Fruit’’, one of the first songs that illustrated the art of protest. Her performance oozes out the essence of what was happening during the time, it was a time of unabated lynching and racial segregation and she spoke the words as she was telling the story to the view she had cemented within the dark pupils of her eyes. 

Barney Josephson who was the owner of the Cafe Society Jazz Club where Billie would perform regularly and he could see the power the song inflicted on people and insisted that Billie would only sing it to close down her performances. It was a song that left many wary and it’s on that very note alone is what makes me respect the lady. She was a deviant of her time, someone who fought to tell the truth, someone who lived it in order to tell the story of with such a passion and someone who was socially lynched on a day by day basis. It was revolutionary. There are many artists that plan to do the very same, they use music as a form of expression instead of one that only deposits uncontrollable levels of fame.

Amy Winehouse is someone I am going to mention as she created the foundations to many soul singers we have available to us today. She was an artist that used an emotion to fuel the content of her music and that emotion was love and when love was or wasn’t working, she would let everyone know about it through the words and rhymes of her song writing and many around the world found her style rebellious and vulnerable as no one else was doing it at the time. She compiled so many different tastes into one voice; reggae, blues, jazz and R&B. It just all balanced together and when she performed, she would always enchant the crowd with this surprise array of vocal ranges, she was a character that was very hard to get into on a personal level but when it came to her music, the crowd would act as her catalyst. She sang openly about her life and her relationships and often raised problems that we could relate to but there was something else that was influencing this. Amy had an oath to drugs and alcohol and unfortunately with all the content that she had produced, she will always be labelled for the way the media documented her habits. Amy Winehouse unfortunately passed away at 27 this year but her legacy will live on. There are many others who are under the same spell. The combination of fame, touring and the exploitation of their personal lives can become too much for many but music was always there to foretell it.

Throughout time, music has been the voice when society grew silent and when us as individuals had no ability of expressing ourselves. I love every element that music brings and I love talking about it, but this question has always occupied my mind, why do the best tend to self destruct? When I listen to Nina Simone, Jimi Hendrix and Gil Scott Heron and so many more, I can hear infusions of their personality and I can hear their pleads to fit into a world as normal human beings. These artists have such a connection with the world and their soul that it can often take an effect on their mentality. They will become at one with their subconscious that everything else that matters to them personally will become an irritation; even hanging around with loved ones will become a chore.  Greatness within music often only appears when the person has experienced struggle within their lives and are undergoing a hunger to make changes within society and within themselves. Artists who achieve greatness take years to unlock secrets and the journey that follows is normally one of overwhelming emotion.

This is only a view and I guarantee you if you spoke to a well-known artist, they can tell you a different story but I feel this one of the reasons why the best tend to self destruct. In Today’s scene, there are so many different ways we can source our music and there is such a vast palette of what we can select and listen to but to the artists that wish to use music to quite simply express themselves, there is a fear of not being in style due to the charts reshaping over the last couple of decades. We have a lot of music acts that perform just to pump adrenalin into our systems, the kind of music we like to dance to within a nightclub and then we have the music acts that use it for documentation.  Music acts from this field will blend genres that have similar qualities to their rivals in dance and electronica as it gives them more likelihood to be accepted in the charts, but for many they remain underground or independent. This backs my earlier point on how genres are being rebounded and reshaped to fit within the changes and views of today’s audiences. The demographic will always change, back in the 20’s, the teenagers would go out to town hall dances to the sound of a big band orchestra and in the 60’s, teenagers would be laying in some long grass meadow in the midst of summer listening to Jefferson Airplane on their parent’s bush radio.

Music has always been a part of us and no matter if you are a listener of it or an artist; just keep it true to yourself. No one needs to emulate a character to fit in as long as you appreciate it that is all that matters. It’s people like you and I that keep it alive and kicking and it’s us that makes an artist enjoy their craft. Music should be kept to having a vast background of concepts and ideas and Music should be contained under 2 headings, the good and the bad, but that bit is up to you on how you convey it so the next time you are listening to an artist, put your ear up to the speaker and hear what they tell you and not what I.


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