Monday, May 28, 2007

Currency of dreams

Functional music (Gebrauchsmusik) is useful, practical, comfortable, amiable, but also replaceable, forgettable, disposable, a currency of everyday life, accompanying motion, labor, ritual, commerce.

In Gilbert Rouget's Music and Trance, it's shown through examples cutting across time and geography that although music may often be a component of trance induction, no specific musical material is associated with this instrumentality; in other words, the music is just a placeholder in the process of induction, and some other, perhaps any other, music could have been substituted.

And that's the problem with functional music -- it is usable, but also disposable and replaceable. If you wanna dance, there's always going to be something else to dance to, and if you want to eat, you'll eat no matter what's on the radio, and if you want to do something more interesting, well, Louis Soleil had Lully, the King of Karagasem had the Gamelan Semar Pegulingan, my father's generation had Jackie Gleason's Velvet Brass and we had Barry White. And while I will use as much functional music as anyone else, enjoying ear candy as if my blood sugar count were zero, I have made the choice that I'm not going to waste any of my limited time and energy for music making on anything other than renewable music, the music that nourishes mind, body, spirit, and keeps at it -- to both comfort and disturb -- for the long haul. That's it: renewable music: currency of our dreams.

(With thanks to David Ocker for disagreeing with me).

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