Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tribute bands

Today I witnessed someone refer to musicians who perform in tribute bands as, I quote, "pitiful copyists who lack the breadth of musical understanding to break outside one myopic microcosm of infantessimile repetition."

^ pseudo-intellectualism and disdain for the majority of musicians - united at last !

If we say nay to tribute bands for the reasons mentioned above, then we are also saying nay to performing any music written by people
other than ourselves. Let's look at this logically:

When one first learns to play an instrument, they tend to play music written by other people in order to learn the mechanics of the instrument. So if those who interpret the music of others are actually hacks, then when does that point come that they are required to stop playing the music of others and exclusively play their own?

Yeah, 8 year old Mozart - how dare you play someone else's music in your spare time?  Shouldn't you be busy composing?

So if they ultimately find their greatest passion in the music of others, they are somehow taking the wrong path in life because they aren't playing their original songs for 30 people in a pub who'd rather hear Some Kind Of Wonderful?

I'll bet you my paycheque from the gig that this guy does not want to hear the song I wrote last night.

The argument against tribute acts is thus: money should not be paid to experience old songs in a concert atmosphere because nobody's reinventing the wheel.

So if tribute acts are a waste of time, energy, money and sperm, then by that account so is every musician who interprets and performs music that is more than ~60 years old - because all of those composers are dead. So then we're advocating that all music after the lifetimes of its respective composers should simply die with them?

Furthermore - orchestral music tends to be composed by one person, not the entire orchestra. So if the above argument stands, even those people performing music written by someone else during their lifetime are also hacks because they didn't bother to compose the music or collaborate in some way with the composer during the creative process.

Sounds ludicrous when put like that, doesn't it ?

People love music because it connects with them in some way, and nothing will ever replicate the experience of live music. It takes great skill to accurately interpret the music of another composer or artist, and people love to experience it being done right. And it creates careers - in pubs, in theatres, at weddings, at outdoor festivals and at corporate events - in classical, jazz, opera, funk, r&b, rock and pop. Taking this away would be akin to burning history books and abandoning archaeology, as we'd essentially be saying there is no purpose in preserving important and meaningful moments of our past.

As a professional musician who has been paid to perform both my own music and music written by others - I can say with complete conviction that there is absolutely no feeling like sitting in an empty theatre an hour before show time while they test out the lights, knowing that two thousand people have paid to come see you interpret a piece of music they have loved for decades and that you are going to be a small cog in that machine of time travel and sensory overload.

This process of musical delivery is far from superfluous, and likely one that the nay-sayers have benefited from without even realizing it.  Long live the delivery of music in all its forms.  In a world where we have enough things dividing us, music is a force to unite.  Stop the squabbling and enjoy - with perspective.