Monday, May 25, 2009

Authentic Music

Not very long ago, I was holding onto great resentment about the American military industrial complex. I was angered by the idea of people profiting from fueling violence, and I was outraged that the people who were profiting from violence would put other people's lives at risk to do so. I railed against the fear-inducing rhetoric that elicited support from a populace who were easily convinced that barbarism was not only the best answer, it seemed to be accepted as the only answer. I was appalled that a society would accept the implication that fellow citizens were dying to protect our freedom while leaders were blatantly whittling them away. And on and on.

I still believe many of those things, but my response is rather different now. When I allowed my own anger to be incited, I was really putting the same kind of energy into the world that angered me. Making a choice about what I want to create in the world means, in part, handling my distaste for the purposes and methods of the American military industrial complex differently.

So how can I respond to the things that rouse my anger without amplifying the very behavior that angers me? One way for me is through music. I compose music because I have something to communicate. I don't always expect the listener to completely comprehend the message because music, at least instrumental music, is a rather abstract art form. And yet, I believe that I can express an alternative way of thinking, a glimmer of a different view, a speck of awareness that run contrary to the mainstream.

I could just convey my anger and outrage, and I have heard music of diverse styles that seems to be little more than a vitriolic assault. But if I am authentic about what I want to create in the world, my music can become a vessel for communicating ideals that run contrary to Nietzsche's "might makes right" and conveys the strength of unity and grounded-ness. Music can, in subtle ways, point out the futility of playing military King of the Mountain or the danger in belief without thought. Rather than holding composition as expression, I recognize that music can actually be transformative. And that is a powerful motivation I can't easily ignore.

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