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Let the Music Take you there

Even when you don't know where you're going and what you plan to do with your music when you get there, you have to start somewhere. Trading places with a superstar isn't going to happen. Getting a "hit" record is about as likely as winning the lottery. In the work-a-day world, no one starts at the top. Why would music be any different? More often than not, we begin at the bottom. The music industry has always had an unspoken development hierarchy. There has always been a night club circuit. High schools and colleges have always been a stepping stone to larger venues for emerging artist. Major concert producers control entire geographic territories and high profile venues. If you're lucky enough to get a hit record, the door will open to bigger and better audiences and fatter paychecks. Creativity, like history, is a work in progress. It is a never ending journey in search of a perfect form of expression. Even great artists can produce mediocre work. In a few short years, The Beatles produced more than a dozen record albums with good songs on each one. But, for all their prolific genius, they are remembered for only a handful of those songs. Most of those had some connection to cultural changes that were taking place at the time. Suddenly, the sixties were over. The artist, friendly musical environment was gone. Disco took the stage and leisure suits came into style. Some say it was the Nixon administration that put an end to all the cultural commotion. There were rumors of conspiracy. The hippies grew up, graduated and got establishment jobs. The music industry had simply had enough and decided it was time to recoup their losses. Whatever it was, the Disneyland adventure that was the sixties ended shortly after Woodstock. Icons were overthrown. Music lost it's bearings and for a while even country took a swing. The night fell. Darkness came together with hackneyed claims of new music that wasn't really new. Long before the sixties, the roots of rhythm and blues could be traced back to ragtime. Ragtime was a forerunner of jazz; a synthesis of African-American syncopation and European classical music. Early classical composers such as Aaron Copeland and Igor Stravinsky became fascinated with jazz. They didn't know where jazz was headed but they decided it was going somewhere and they were going to do something with it; even if they made themselves look a little foolish doing so. Obviously, there was a big difference between classical and jazz music: jazz performers improvised, classical performers didn't. Still, the influence of classical music on jazz was unmistakable. Who would have ever imagined that European harmony would lead to the development of the blues scale? Rhythm and blues was born. By all means, take a few ricks but if you want to go somewhere, start at the beginning and let your music take you there. You never know what might happen. Dennis Walsh progressofmusic@hotmail.com

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