By: Fernando Guízar Pimentel
Within the cultural discussion circles, issues related to the situation of music – both as an industry and art form- are almost always considered relevant. As an aspiring musician who hopes to be appealing to a broader audience someday, I will state my views about the changes of notions respecting music and it’s performers in a popular context, followed by a brief hypothesis, trying to explain the relationship between music education and the impact of the music industry toward society.
It is arguable that entertainers who happen to sing are considered musicians these days. This was not the case before the countercultural movement of the 1960’s; It was until then when anybody who grabbed an instrument to play simple chord progressions could call themselves “artists”. As simple as that, without any kind of formal schooling, as the practice of playing gigs every weekend at local venues was more than enough; accomplishment was not something sought-after anymore, but fun was.
Without a doubt, most classically trained musicians find this recent shift of popular perceptions shameful. They no longer hold the mastery of fine musicianship exclusively, as many universities worldwide are granting honorary Doctorates in music to popular composers who can’t even read scores. These kind of titles were previously reserved solely to the elite. Nowadays, it is also common for orchestras to be joined onstage by mainstream acts belonging to completely different genres. Boundaries seem to have vanished.
Interestly enough, while people started to expand the concept of artistry, they also found an innovative way to delve deeper into music by ignoring the limits imposed by classical standards. As musicians with more progressive tendencies explored with such resources as uncommon time signatures, contagious and often unpredictable rhythms, catchy lyrics, and a sonic palette fueled by electricity, they found the formula to achieve a successful change in the entire structure of the folk song archetype. They went far beyond the horizons known until then.
It is also true that the music business has greatly influenced the way we perceive music by using viral marketing campaigns to promote a wide range of artists –talented or not- taking advantage at some extent of the ignorance of people concerning the quality of the music itself.
Even though education is supposed to be the Government’s first and foremost responsability, they have failed to create and effective program to promote a learning of music that encompasses theory, playing and appreciation, making people an easy target for the industry tactics from a very early age.
It is truly pitiful when any art form degrades to a product, and music is the example par excellence of this situation. Hopefully, the new technological advances enable people to produce and share their own work, shaking the very foundations of the greedy entertainment business. We can only wait and see what happens.