Saturday, 5 April 2008
Keep Music Live...But Don't Expect Too Much!
I have a sticker on my guitar case that loudly proclaims 'Keep Music Live'; it is a relic from the days when musicians thought that disco would be the nail in the coffin of live music (I really am that old). I mention it because the reason I haven't written for a week or so is that I have been practising, practising with two similarly aged friends for an evening when a small audience will sit expectantly for us to entertain them.
I am no longer worried that live music is doomed - it is clearly thriving - but I do worry that we are losing a certain type of live performance. Live music is rarely part of our lives any more, unless you go to church, but that was not always the case. Music was a regular part of every day life in homes and pubs, and I don't mean the paid for sort of turn you still get in pubs and clubs, I mean the sort that communities provided for themselves.
I suppose there is an extent to which this still exists in the brass band world and other organised musical groups but we do seem to lack the spontaneous sort of entertainment that comes from within.
Our own gathering will be a church social meeting and I can't help worrying that one of the reasons that this sort of music is dying out is that our expectations are set unrealistically high by what we hear around us; and what we hear around us are highly skilled musicians with studio production, polishing their already honed performances.
Consequently, when the quality is not as good as the professionals it narks me to see people wince at the odd wrong note or squirm in embarrassment because the version of a James Blunt song is not like the one they hear on the radio (and believe me it won't be!).
So what do we do? I suppose we encourage everyone to learn an instrument and play together in homes up and down the country. Alternatively (or additionally) ensure that when you do have a small amateur musical gathering everyone is liberally supplied with wine and/or beer - that should make it all sound much better.
In our case I dare say we'll be nipping in The Grapes before our ordeal - I mean performance - so perhaps we won't care in any case!
In the meantime: reach for your recorder today, Keep Music Live!