Ever since I entered the realm of music lessons as a child I was left in no doubt as to the superiority of Classical over popular music…that people like Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart, Bach, Schubert, Brahms, Dvořák…the list goes on…were superhuman Gods who dropped on to the earth, had miserable lives and then disappeared leaving the human race with incomparable gems never to be surpassed…when they weren’t just taking already existing folk tunes, arranging them and then calling them compositions, of course!Read More
Another Eurovision Song Contest has come and gone and I’m scratching my head wondering what this is all about? As a musical phenomenon it long ago lost all credibility. I think when Lordi from Finland won it a couple of years ago that was the nadir, though Ireland’s Dustin the Turkey did his bit to turn the whole thing into a joke.
What is at stake in this ‘competition’? National pride? Hardly. No one really cares any longer about Eurovision songs except the participants, the tabloid media and a rash of Eastern Europeans who obviously want to tell the world that they’re as hip as everybody else and spend most of their lives clubbing. Anyway most of the songs have no characteristic that links them culturally to the country they ‘represent’. Old Europe, as the Americans say, is profoundly bored with it all.Read More
When I started off playing music professionally I still laboured under the misapprehension that the listener responded to the music I made in the same way I felt it. Put that down, firstly, to an inherited tendency to think the world revolves around me (thanks, Ma!) but also to a strong dose of naivety.
Gradually over time and with much disillusionment I came to realize that only a very small proportion of listeners actually hear music ‘for its own sake’ by which I mean independent of the myriad of contexts in which it sits….the age, style, image, attitude, politics of the artists who make and perform it ..for a start. So many people wear their music like a tribal badge of identity, a common bond of inclusivity. ‘I’m into Florence and the Machine…are you?’ kinda thing, with the ‘music’ being actually peripheral to the whole package…which in the case of Florence is perhaps somewhat understandable (ouch!).. but you know what I mean.Read More
Here in Derry on Easter Saturday midday. Today the ancient city walls are the temporary home of street market stalls. The leaden skies and insistent rain mean it will be a lonely vigil today for Man of Aran and his packets of home-made fudge. No one is abroad in the sodden air, though the indoor markets seem to be thriving.
We drove from Dublin last night and our first gig is tonight in the Millennium Theatre. Rehearsals went well. We’re all vaguely excited and rarin’ to go. Resting in my room in the bus and reading ‘The Song Before It Is Sung’ by Justin Cartwright, I stop at the juxta-position of Art and the real world at the end of the first chapter and consider.Read More
I’m trying to figure out this money thing. It’s a mystery to me. Last night I watched a program on Bernie Madoff which told the complete story of the scam from start to finish. I like being comfortable and having the few bob in my pocket as much as the next guy but…what is the point, in the big picture, of spending your whole life just accumulating money? Not only that but screwing everybody you come across in the process. Oh, what fun! On one level I’m sure that’s not what we’re here for.Read More