Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Explain the Aurality

The Farewell Program for the year 2013 by the Chennai Mizo Welfare Association was held today. The amount of musical talent in the CMWA has noticeably increased to the point that there were 9 people given slots to sing songs, not to mention the 4 songs performed by the live band of the night. Almost all of these songs were Mizo songs, and ranged in musical variety between the traditional mizo songs to the funk and bluesy-rock of the live band. All of the songs were sing-along-able and had catchy, poppy tunes. And in the midst of all this, i performed a Guitar instrumental and an improvised on-the-spot solo to a backing track. Awkward much.

The Instrumental, titled Stellar Sea Shore, was a psychedelic-ish spacey instrumental, which was me putting to sound what Batty describes when he says "I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gateat that climactic final scene in Blade Runner. The jam right after that was based on an 80's style Hard Rock Ballad in E minor scale backing track. It was pretty ok, considering i had written the instrumental just 2 days before the show, and that the jam session was pretty much on the spot, Whitesnake-y feel et all. Feeling pretty ok with myself, i stepped off the stage.

Cue the polite handshakes and smiles of unsure appreciation. But then, the more people kept giving me the line "Didn't really get what it was about, but it was good. You are so talented", the more this thought nagged at me to reply. See, when it comes to the 21st century generation, especially in the mainstream Mizo audience, people just don't GET guitar driven music anymore, whether it be Rock, Metal or otherwise. And the frustrating thing is, they have all the requisites to be able to get it, more than any other generation. More than ever, music in almost every other genre has been influenced by the Guitar in so many ways. And i don't just mean in the collaborations with mainstream rock guitarists like Slash and Santana either. Dubstep, which has taken the world by storm via Skrillex, is a digitised, souped up version of the breakdowns found in more basic, primal forms in Hardcore and Funk metal. Pop music now contains atleast one notable guitar passage in its formula, and Rock itself has evolved AND condensed to the extent that its sub-genres are all unidentifiably clustered into single songs. And the way people feel the songs. People listen to music varied as the Harlem Shake and The A Team, and react to it in the same basic way, the music moves and you move with it.

Now, the million dollar question is this. Why can't people apply the same to Guitar driven music??

Honestly, the reactions to the sounds made by the guitar are probably the ones which are most primal and SHOULD be inherent in all animals, let alone Human beings. The reason why Metal will have as much staying power as Classical Music, though they are centuries apart in conception and propogation, is that it speaks to the core of the psyche. Not just the lyrics, not just the compositions, the music is something which just should BE.

My theory for this? Its because people try to UNDERSTAND it. And its partly the musicians and the scenes' fault. People have to "study" how to play the guitar, "memorise" the scales and modes and "follow" music theory to get the whole contemporary rock scene. Then you have the "technical" metalheads who think that only timing and precision is key. The irony is that the entire Rock and Metal scenes started out being the opposite of all this. It was all about being part of a movement and culture where we could just be ourselves, and portray our innermost socially unacceptable personas. And it didn't have stereotypes to hold it down. Its good to have an identity and some icons to stand out, but music should not be used as a culturally discriminating factor where people HAVE to follow the code, like throwing the horns out or moshing. The music i love, i can dance to, i can gyrate to, i can FEEL. Its not about knowing whats going on in terms of the notes and genres, its about LISTENING to the music, FEELING it and letting it free in you. Think of it as waves and motion, as rays of light and walls of sound. The brain-y part is also important, such as the lyrics, the concept, etc, but the HEART is where it is at.

Don't try to make sense of music, Try to empathise. Picture it, Imagine it, Reach out to it, and let it envelop you.

(Btw, for those who may be interested to check the performance out : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hi8WeIG1nxM)

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