Here Thar Be Monsters!

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29.9.16

The Sounds Of Our Lives

Today's soundtrack can be found by clicking here.

OK, I've figured out all the world's problems.  See?  You knew if you stuck around long enough, that I, your faithful correspondent, would eventually figure it all out.

The Problem Is (are you ready?)...

MUSIC

That's right...music.  Go ahead, turn on your radio to something other than talk shows.  See what I mean?

I don't know about your side of the world, but here on the Far Side, K-Pop is all the rage.  If you haven't been subjected this somewhat harmonized caterwauling, it's a bunch of Korean whatevers wearing make-up and flashy costumes sync-dancing to songs that remind me of the innards of a good-sized pimple.  In fact, I've had some pimple guts that were far more creative.

Over on the Near Side, the music scene took a belly-flop at the beginning of the Noughties and the demise of the Grunge Movement.  Lyrics became mantric repetitions of inane "hey babies" and the instrumentation bowed out and let the rhythm sections take over while the rest of the band went out in the alley to smoke a joint and talk about where to go from here.

Think about it...in the 40s, sweet pipes like Sinatra and Cosby crooned us into a stupor with grammatically understandable lyrics.  In the 50s, talents like Chuck, Elvis, Jerry Lee and Buddy brought R&B out of the smoky dens of dark inner cities and into the Rock & Roll revolution.  That movement blended with the wild explosion of creativity of the 60s, where folk met rock met gospel and they had an ecstatic orgy of sound and meaning.

In the 70s, we briefly saw the Disco Monster rear its horrible head, but it was eventually conquered by the Pettys and Springsteens of the world, and their harmonies inspired the Grunge Movement of the late 80s and 90s.

But, then a terrible thing happened.  Little did we realize that the Disco Monster, just before expiring, had thrown out an egg sac that fertilized with with another inner-city movement called "rap."  The offspring that emerged were horrific in their countenance.  The Pop Movement was born, and like any good bowel movement, it landed on the world with a resounding thud and immediately drew flies.

Lyrics have devolved into endlessly repeated catch-phrases - like diamonds in the sky - and the performers are all of the same pasty, limp noodle variety with little more than a well-placed sequin to distinguish them.  In fact, the most interesting product of this insipid movement are the videos, which are anathema to music, since music is intended to be (ahem) heard, not seen.

You can see the effect in the eyes of the Millennial Generation.  Their hollow haunted looks reflect that complete lack of creativity in their shared culture.  Like some warped Zen koan, they are forced to draw meaning from meaninglessness, and the result is a vacuous mentality that seeks nothing, because that is always the point of a good koan.

While pondering this article, I went and checked my own library.  My collection begins with the Dawn of Time and runs right up to the early 2000s, then abruptly stops.  The collection encompasses nearly every form of music ever recorded, even the sounds of planets and stars (oddly melodic by the way), but from the last 16 years, almost nothing, not even movie soundtracks or show tunes.  Creativity in music just died.

Music is one of those things we all take for granted, but is very important to humans.  Hearing is pretty much the strongest human sense. Our eyes aren't worth a damn, compared to the rest of the animal kingdom.  Our sense of smell is only a fraction of other beasts.  However, nearly half or more of our experience in the Universe comes through our hearing.

Music is vital to culture, can excite vivid memories and can unite radically diverse groups across physical distance and across generations.  Creating music is one of humanity's most primal instincts.  It is a language that all people understand instinctively.  Music, in fact, is embedded in the very nature of all we perceive, and that is not hyperbole.

At its core, music is just harmonious vibrations.  We are sensitive to the harmony, finding some vibrations pleasing, while others irritate or excite us in a wide variety of ways.  Music is the expression of time and mathematics, as music cannot exist without time and its very nature is wavelengths - sine waves of various lengths.

Who among us can listen to Wagner without feeling our pulse quicken?  Is not Beethoven the embodiment of joy?  Even the sounds of the gamelan evokes the endless and serene world of tropical Earth.  From humanity's earliest awakenings, music has been a vital and uniting force behind our civilizations.

Yet, here we are.  We have arrived at the empty and meaningless Age of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, the vacuous noises of Psy and Lee Ji-Eun, and the violet arrhythmia of Dead Kennedys or Sex Pistols.

We have entered an era where art has devolved into something called "self-expression."  It has affected all media and forms, and it has laid waste to the very fabric of society.  It is hard to separate the devolution of music from the increasing courseness of society.  Whether art has followed the increasing destruction of harmonious culture, or led it, is of little consequence, but it is certain that a major change in music - a burst of creative force - would give great power to the restoration of peaceful and harmonious life.

If all life and existence is based on vibrations, then it stands to reason that the most powerful force we can unleash - for good or bad - is vibrations.  Meaningful and harmonious vibrations fill our lives with peace, while empty and vacuous ones cause strife.

We call upon the musicians of the world to return us to peace with your music!


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