Some of acoustic musics greatest contributors are often overlooked, usually from a lack of material that is easily marketed and turned into profit. This is no coincidence, this is a symptom in the nature of our times. Music is it’s own language, in and of itself. We must move past using names like, “Country, Bluegrass, Jazz and classical,” to define what is an art form with it’s very own vocabulary.
Players like Jordan Ramsey, Dave Peters, and Tim Connell often play multiple styles within a single song. In terms of genres this music must fall into, “all of the above.” What makes music hard to define is exactly what gives it more interest and intrigue. No more pigeon holed definitions are needed.
Chris Thile just released an album, which consists only pieces composed by the great J.S. Bach. Before the release of this album Thile was not considered a classical player, nor we he be in the future. But his classical mandolin playing is up there with the best I have ever heard. Do you see the problem here? I can same the same for Mike Marshall’s/strong> playing of classical music. Another player not considered in the classical genre.
Both have devoted lots of time and effort into this particular style. Naturally, after a certain amount of time a new style, or composer is needed freshen things up. An example of this would be Marshall’s change to playing Brazilian music. Another good example is Tony Rice’s movement towards Jazzier playing, and away from what we call bluegrass. Bluegrass is unique in that it is a genre created by a single man, the master Bill Monroe. There is one and only Bill Monroe. “So it goes,” as Kurt Vonnegut would say.
Jethro Burns called many names, but never a conformist, broke all the right rules. As a musical revolutionary, he lead the way for David Grisman’s Dawg music, as well as all that was labeled Newgrass, and jazzgrass, over the years. Well before that players like Dave Apollon played music beyond definition.
Dave Apollon a Russian mandolin player wrote and performed beautiful music, later called Gypsy Jazz. Django Reinhardt’s very own musical genre creation. Not bad company, but their music must speak for itself, two words do not do it justice. Don’t listen to me, or any other critic for that matter, listen to the emotional, and powerful music they played.
Every artist named is in bold print for a reason. The reason being so one can listen to these artists and draw his or her own conclusions. No one song, or name, can suffice in revealing the broad, yet strong foundations these men have built for future generations of musicians. With inspiration from the masters of the past, one’s own unique voice can be found and expressed.
We must adapt and continue building onto an art form that has luckily been built to last. The ones most willing to adapt, and change with the times, are in my opinion the most fit to be truly original and innovative.
“What is in a name?” Just that, nothing more. Do not mistake the name for the thing it represents. Be it a person, place, or thing, let your heart do the deciding. Your analytical rational mind will always be there to fall back on. Music is beyond names, it evokes emotion not logic, inspirational not instructive, feelings not answers.
We all could be a little less critical and more accepting in thoughts and actions. This is a ticket that can unleash creative prowess beyond imagination. Tapping into the true source, as many before us have.
Paying homage to the traditions of the past holds huge importance. The assumption that the builders wanted us to carry these traditions unchanged, like relics of the past, is inevitably impossible. Build off of traditional music in ways that feel good to you, and chances are it will have the same effect on others. Trust your gut, and play from your heart.