February 23, 2012

Some Vague Notions About Music

I do wonder sometimes about the public display or release of music. Showing it to anyone certainly involves some degree of narcissism. Of course this isn't confined just to music, it'd be the same with any art from but as I am a musician this is my chief focus. George Fox had this to say about it in 1649:

"I was moved to cry also against all sorts of Musick, and against the Mountebanks playing tricks on their Stages, for they burdened the pure Life, and stirred up people’s minds to Vanity"

I do believe that modern Quakers feel quite differently about it, or at least they appeared to when I attended a concert at our meeting house (which has amazing acoustics by the way) last month. I'm interested in hearing what happens with music in the realm of Quakerism in the next few years. I'd love to hear some music that demonstrates the quiet and calm attributes of our faith. While I don't believe the music of Jon Watts embodies these traits, I think he's probably the first Quaker of our generation to put his music out there (Well, there's this little blip, -- yet to publicly release anything that would be considered Quaker music. Stay tuned.) and that should undoubtable inspire others. To be perfectly honest, I can't stand his music -- nails on a chalkboard could be an understatement. But of course I have such specific, narrow minded ideas about music that could only pertain to myself. Having said that, I'll leave you with a quote from my muse C. S. Lewis who seems to share my sentiment:

"Just because I don't like this music . . . isn't an ironclad guarantee that it's wrong everywhere, every day, for everyone."


  1. The point about sharing music as narcissism is interesting. Although, perhaps it comes down to one's own intention. And therefore it might ultimately be sort of difficult to truly judge another's ways. Animals kind of have it nice. Without the self awareness they're pretty pure, even in their selfishness. It's just kind of real. Our ability to be self-aware is probably our greatest gift and equally our downfall. So, if one thinks there's some vanity in sharing art, that could be true. But, what then? Do we share it or not? In a sense, once we're locked into a certain mind set about what's wrong or right we're kind of deluded either way. I don't know, maybe it's okay to be selfish and vain at times, if we're mindful and honest with our intentions.

    Nice post, stirs up lots of fun discussion.

  2. "... they burdened the pure Life.."
    The problem with the public release of music is that really gross stupid people think they are good enough to make music or good enough to listen to good music, they are really deluded and careless and thoughtless and braindead -that is the main problem that they think they are equal to it, they think they have the right to take ownership of it, they think they're the same as other people they think they're good enough to listen to it and they think everything anyone makes is something for them to take. They have no humility or respect.

  3. Tom, I agree and I actually didn't quite think about it as in depth originally as you have now. you raise some interesting points, but of course there are no definite answers. I think it comes down to personal choice and what people are comfortable with. One would hope others could think about the whole matter without any sort of "indie" finger pointing, but that's usually the direction those sort of conversations go. Certainly the notion of releasing something (book, music etc.) in a limited way: just to friends, a certain group or whatever, existed before the concept of being "indie".

    To the anonymous writer: at my worst I would agree with you and at my best I would push away that sort of thinking. What is gross and stupid is technically subjective (I will admit: I have a hard time believing it, but we all know it to be true). Furthermore, somethings I once thought stupid I've now grown to love. And of course if people who we thought unintelligent didn't sometimes appreciate things that we suppose are outside their scope of comprehension then there would be no market for these things. I'm glad that people (myself included) might not fully understand something but can still see a glimmer of something special and want to get involved with it. That's what learning and growing and growing up is all about.

  4. I don't really know, but I feel that in a way, it is narcissist to share what you do, but narcissism is in human being 'cause we all have that need of being heard, we need to share and in some way, feel people react at what we do. And I know it's not that good, but it's not that wrong either, 'cause it involves sharing.
    And though I know that (sadly) when you share what you've created (music, art, books, ideas...) it loses its true purity, I love thinking that maybe someone on the other side of the world, that does not know me at all, would look/listen/read it and feel the way I felt when I was creating it, and so... rediscover its true purity.

    Maybe I'm being selfish here.. but I love when I see/listen somthing, and it's like "oh,... that's the feeling"