I spoke to Juan Carlos about music, as we usually do, but this time we had more time and we discussed it deeper than usual. We agreed, as everyone does nowadays, that the music of our childhood and youth was way better. This is not to say that today there is no good music, it just means that music meant much more to many more people that it does today.
I now think that we should have explored the differences in quality deeper than we did yesterday. In the first place there is the question why today’s music, although excellent at the times and often good, does not hold significance and social dignity that music of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s did. Without going into the reason for that, we’ve touched a less general topic which I wish to share here.
Juan Carlos, just a half generation behind mine, listened to a lot of 80’s music and was a DJ and producer of electronic music. This means that his familiarity with and tolerance of rhythm machine based rhythmic structures is much higher than mine. I mentioned that I dislike synthetic rhythms. Actually, I feel that the introduction of the synthetic rhythm is one of the chief reasons today’s music lost is significance.
Surely, if we accept that music is speech, as it conveys meaning and feeling in an articulated, coded structure, we need to understand and appreciate what codes it’s vibrancy. I think it is the rhythm, and if it is the bones of the life that is a song, than rhythm machines can only be the musical creature’s exoskeleton. Moreover, if the music lives and if the music is born to live it needs to breathe. If drumming is breathing, it must be natural in order for a piece of music to live. There is no speech without breathing and there is no music without live rhythm.
Juan Carlos seemed to agree, and we paid another homage to Africa where our roots are stemming from. There would be no universal language spoken globally today, without a contribution from our African brothers. Once country music was married to the blues in the 50’s drumming entered western civilization in a big way and has defined the global culture of our times. Thus, the first global language was the rock and roll music and while it is spoken the music remains challenging, dynamic and dignified. When the sounds of the jungle were supplanted by the synthetic exoskeleton the language lost its meaning. The songs stopped breathing.