Excuse Me, Don't I Know You From Somewhere?


"You will find yourself in a bizarre alternate universe where the sun is on the wrong side of the sky and everyone looks like they're sleepwalking when you get up before noon for the first time in your life."

I once had a conversation with a friend of my husband's about music. There was much discussion about some of our favorite bands and how there seemed to be some, in particular, that appeal more selectively to musicians - or at least those who have more of an appreciation for playing an instrument as opposed to simply being on the receiving end. That listening to complexities of the sounds we take in while subconsciously holding some understanding of whether a particular riff, chord, beat or tone takes any real level of talent can instantly change your opinion of what it is you're experiencing. This went on for some time and would occasionally escalate into heated debate despite our mutual agreement on most of the talking points. Then he said something that downright horrified me: "Music ceased achieving true originality at least 20 or so years back." WHAT!?


Man, I was fuming. How dare he say such a thing!? Well, he was as stubborn in his opinions as myself, and had no filter to the manner in which he communicated. I can respect that. The more I pondered that sentiment -  long after the conversation came to an awkward close - the more I mused whether he was perhaps correct. Unless one was blessed with being raised in a cave or soundproof chamber, closed off to the world and all it's.... well... worldly influence, at some point an outside factor - be it a song, a story, an image or something similar would have seeped into your mind. In other words, something which already exists would make it's way into your creative consciousness. Not to say one couldn't find a unique twist, variation, or expression of this - but it would be precisely that... still reminiscent and ultimately inspired by something that had been done before. 


I remember struggling with this notion at multiple crossroads throughout my life to date. I can recall when my knuckle-beating-piano-teacher tasked me with writing a song. I would begin jotting down notes at random as I was truly out of my element in the first place. Even after 13 years of study, I never quite grasped READING sheet music. Play a song once for me and I can echo it back to you. But once again, that indicated the song was already composed by someone else. I toyed with one variation after the next of tunes that would dance into my mind, but each successive time, it became familiar. Damnit. I had just listened to that song last week. Or my mom listened to that when I was a child. I couldn't close myself off from sampling and even mimicking tunes I already knew to be published. Odd. 





To look at the majority of movies being released over the past handful of years or more - they are based on books, or remakes of older films. Old ideas made new again with "fresh" faces or slight plot derailments. Even many of the "original" movies are reminiscent of ones from days gone by. Bits and pieces of old inspiration strewn together to celebrate something new. You can find this in sculpture, architecture, paintings, books, television, welding... you name it. Sweet merciful christ, there's no way that arrogant jerk (and no, I don't really mean that - he was quite pleasant and offered fascinating conversation) was correct! 

As much sense as it all makes, I'm still greatly bothered. New, innovative, amazing things are still being done. I'm convinced of it. After all, though history is notoriously prone to repeating itself, there is something magical to be said for identifying, conquering and subsequently capturing a small artistic piece of the previously unknown. Plus, why should snowflakes have all the fun of being individual? Cheeky bastards.





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Kitty

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Excuse Me, Don't I Know You From Somewhere?


"You will find yourself in a bizarre alternate universe where the sun is on the wrong side of the sky and everyone looks like they're sleepwalking when you get up before noon for the first time in your life."

I once had a conversation with a friend of my husband's about music. There was much discussion about some of our favorite bands and how there seemed to be some, in particular, that appeal more selectively to musicians - or at least those who have more of an appreciation for playing an instrument as opposed to simply being on the receiving end. That listening to complexities of the sounds we take in while subconsciously holding some understanding of whether a particular riff, chord, beat or tone takes any real level of talent can instantly change your opinion of what it is you're experiencing. This went on for some time and would occasionally escalate into heated debate despite our mutual agreement on most of the talking points. Then he said something that downright horrified me: "Music ceased achieving true originality at least 20 or so years back." WHAT!?


Man, I was fuming. How dare he say such a thing!? Well, he was as stubborn in his opinions as myself, and had no filter to the manner in which he communicated. I can respect that. The more I pondered that sentiment -  long after the conversation came to an awkward close - the more I mused whether he was perhaps correct. Unless one was blessed with being raised in a cave or soundproof chamber, closed off to the world and all it's.... well... worldly influence, at some point an outside factor - be it a song, a story, an image or something similar would have seeped into your mind. In other words, something which already exists would make it's way into your creative consciousness. Not to say one couldn't find a unique twist, variation, or expression of this - but it would be precisely that... still reminiscent and ultimately inspired by something that had been done before. 


I remember struggling with this notion at multiple crossroads throughout my life to date. I can recall when my knuckle-beating-piano-teacher tasked me with writing a song. I would begin jotting down notes at random as I was truly out of my element in the first place. Even after 13 years of study, I never quite grasped READING sheet music. Play a song once for me and I can echo it back to you. But once again, that indicated the song was already composed by someone else. I toyed with one variation after the next of tunes that would dance into my mind, but each successive time, it became familiar. Damnit. I had just listened to that song last week. Or my mom listened to that when I was a child. I couldn't close myself off from sampling and even mimicking tunes I already knew to be published. Odd. 





To look at the majority of movies being released over the past handful of years or more - they are based on books, or remakes of older films. Old ideas made new again with "fresh" faces or slight plot derailments. Even many of the "original" movies are reminiscent of ones from days gone by. Bits and pieces of old inspiration strewn together to celebrate something new. You can find this in sculpture, architecture, paintings, books, television, welding... you name it. Sweet merciful christ, there's no way that arrogant jerk (and no, I don't really mean that - he was quite pleasant and offered fascinating conversation) was correct! 

As much sense as it all makes, I'm still greatly bothered. New, innovative, amazing things are still being done. I'm convinced of it. After all, though history is notoriously prone to repeating itself, there is something magical to be said for identifying, conquering and subsequently capturing a small artistic piece of the previously unknown. Plus, why should snowflakes have all the fun of being individual? Cheeky bastards.





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