Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What is the true problem?

A lot of our posts are excellent reports on various occurrences and issues relating to digital media or copyright law.  I'm not very adept at sniffing out these things so I thought it would be interesting to give a change of pace.  A lot of the focus on the remix dilemma is aimed at the ethical aspect: should it be allowed to use a large portion of someone else's work to make another work and sell it?  Arguments for both sides vary, but that is not what this is about.  I propose that the real issue at stake is one of creativity.
After reading the Pirate's Dilemma chapter about the punk rock movement I felt a little indignant towards its ideals.  I never liked the Sex Pistols or Clash or other punk acts.  But the Pirate's Dilemma I found myself having active rather than passive dislike for them.  I sought to eliminate this feeling and did so by taking a nice listen to Beethoven's 9th Symphony.  Pretentious, I know.  Now I don't really listen to classical music, but I realized something: even the music that I love (a lot of different kinds of rock) and hold in high esteem because of it complexity and beauty pales in comparison to this man's music.  The grand scope and sheer epicness of it trounces anything else ever created.  He spent 12 YEARS composing it.
Beethoven is known for bridging the gap between the Classical and Romanic eras of music in the 19th century.  Composers of the Romantic period drew great influence from his music and he has become an icon f classical music in general.
Fast forward to today or recent history and you'll find the same thing happening in art.  One guy slightly modifies the last guy's works and calls it his own. Now I love a lot of modern music. I think things are being done now that people hundreds of years could never have dreamed of.  But I don't think that it is being done on the same scale.  Music in particular, at least the music that is the most popular, has gotten smaller.  The wellspring from which ideas are taken has shrunk for many artists.  As this happens the modifications and new ideas are ever increasingly looking a lot more like the last guy's and a lot less like something new.
In other words, acts like the Clash and Sex Pistols may have had a valid point that wasn't quite musical that a lot of people connected with, but there is nothing wrong with slaving away to create the best kind of music possible.  The world needs its hardworking musicians (of whom there are many) and less people with no knowledge of theory and composition.

1 comment:

ervolsen said...

Yngwie Malmsteen.

Technically, hes an amazing guitarist, but I personally find his music boring as hell. Anyone can learn to master an instrument, but very few people can actually write good music. I'll listen to the Misfits play a sloppy four-chord song to Malmsteen anyday.

Each to his own though.