One of the problems I have with much of the music I hear today is that it doesn’t say anything. It rambles, might hint at a statement, and kind of warbles like limp spaghetti hanging casually over the edge of your plate. (Sorry for the strange food analogy.) That kind of music doesn’t have significance to me. And, at the risk of getting metaphysical, isn’t significance what life is all about? I mean, even if you’re like me and don’t believe that anything matters in the end, the one thing that keeps people going is that their keeping on means something to them–something in their lives is significant, whether it’s day-to-day, a long term goal, or something else.
So, shouldn’t music besignificant? To me it’s obvious that if significance is what life is about, music should have significance if it’s going to be worth our time. If it’s not significant, who cares if you make it? (Sorry for stealing from Mr. Babbitt.)
Now, I don’t mean significant or making a statement as being fortissimo for three hours straight. What I do mean is that, no matter how one achieves it, one has to make a statement somehow in music. Even if it’s the statement of nonintention, it’s still a statement. The quietest (or loudest) piece in existence, Cage’s 4’33”, is so enduring because it makes a statement. Even though I get thrown into a daze when listening to Riley’s In C, it makes multiple statements, artistically, politically, musically, etc. Kurt Cobain, controversial as he was, made statements through simple chords, many times only using two chords for extended periods. Heck, even Lady Gaga makes statements about expression and the purpose of music, despite how candied I find her music.
Don’t fill your basin of a piece with meaningless musical materials. Think of what the music means, think of what it means to you, your audience, society, and in the grand scheme of things. Maybe you’ll come up with something profound, or maybe something sly and witty. Who knows? The whole point, though, is to say something, mean it, back it up, and go for a strong statement, no matter what you’re stating.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading my rant,