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A Style of One's Own

Artistic creation takes many more forms that we might initially realize.

I am not one to say that everything is art, and close readers of my past philosophic writing will know that part of my definition of art is that it is distinct from real life (the former being meditative, reflective, disengaged from actual life as it unfolds etc.).

Yet, nevertheless we can and should still discuss art in more capacious ways than we typically do.

Back around 2013 I got the odd idea in my head to create, in an almost conceptualist fashion a style of music, a genre onto itself and to give it a title of "Hard Listening".

To get a little more technical than I ordinarily would in this context, I wanted to give free and full reign to some musical language: motifs, rhythms, figures, I guess you could call them, that I happened to love but that happened to have obvious associations with older time periods, in some instances, prone to being considered retro, at times what used to be called déclassé or anachronistic.

I then decided that I would  develop this material into something a little more complex than their original "pop" forms which were often more on the "commercial" side.

You could say that what I do is jazz, but I wanted a way of putting my own conceptual spin on it that encompassed a wide spectrum of American popular music from, say, 1930s through early 1980s.

And if that weren't complicated enough I had some ideas about using forms from the classical music tradition, say in piano sonatas and so on.

In keeping with the spirit of this whole podcast I was inspired to do this by an unlikely and possibly remote source: the movieLifeguardfrom 1978 with Sam Elliott, Anne Archer, Kathleen Quinlan and directed by the great Daniel Petrie.

It is more specific than that there is a scene where the Anne Archer character, as stunning as any woman could possibly be in a traditional kind of romantic narrative scene like this one, invites Sam Elliott back to her home and into the living room.

As they look over their 1960 Southern California yearbook she asks in a manner of concern for possible difference of taste, "do you like that kind of music? I can put something else on."

Now it is important to know that the music she has put ins clearly a female singer in a style of emotive and sincere folk we should identify with one style of music in the 1970s.

Now my focus became not on what in a minute turns into a love scene, but rather a meditation on the, for me, frustrating fact that different styles of music were associated with differing tribes, identities, genders and so on.

I guessed she felt this lifeguard, and Sam Elliott no less, would like a different style of music, some kind of rock, perhaps with a male vocalist?

I have always been interested in putting things together which ordinarily are not even thought to be compatible.

Out of that scene came my whole musical project.

Artistic inspiration can come from fields that are outside of one's medium.

This is also why, acknowledging this is a November post in 2020, I tend to not get into topics that are, shall we say, heated, hot button etc.

I do think art can heal and even unite though this is in no way inevitable and guaranteed, depending as it does not a our will to so heal or help.

I have no illusions that art can solve all of our problems, which admittedly seem most considerable in our current moment.

But, it can certainly help.

And while I certainly loved Betty Gilpin's letter concerning the cancellation of her showGlow, I feel that her show and art in general might still be more important than she states.

"It's a pandemic and Rome is burning and I bet you that while Rome fell someone had a great stone tablet niche magazine."

Of course the point of our podcast is precisely that stone tablet.

I do find curious the hierarchies public commentators and grass roots groups alike make concerning the trivial on the one hand and the urgent on the other.

I think these are a bit more arbitrary that we realize, though those who would establish and be in charge of such hierarchies would certainly, even in good faith, appeal to the necessities of historical moments and objective morality.

None of us really knows what even the near future holds. but we do have human consciousness and the art which is its chief expression.

I'd say that counts for quite a bit.

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