Is there a relationship between the environment and music?

The music industry is big business. International superstars jet, first class, around the world meeting, greeting and playing to stadium-sized audiences. This is not limited to the rock or pop stars. Classical music superstars enjoy the same rock star treatment. The entire audience at the Torino Olympics sang the choral part to Luciano Pavarotti’s opening aria. The point is they knew the aria, that’s how pervasive musical stardom is.

Does music owe anything back to the world though?

In the 1970s David Toop recorded and produced an album of the Yanomami tribe from the rainforests of Venezuela and Brazil. While the album was hardly a multi-million platinum disc it never the less had some commercial success and continues to have a life today. Sampled by other artists or used in films.

Toop would be the first to admit that there is a copyright and then to acknowledge that the copyright could belong to more than him.

Music changes the way we see the world

At a simplistic level, the music we listen to reflects our mood. Remember your first massive heartbreak. Did you listen to heartbreak songs, the songs which reflected your mood? You probably did not notice but as you recovered so did the music too. There came a point where you threw off the blues and began to listen to songs of hope and then finally something upbeat.

Music takes the link deeper

When music moves out into the environment it takes the connection a level deeper. Take the Beatles song ‘Blackbird’, the song ends with the bird singing. The song is given a slightly melancholy feel by the melody. The words, however, are nothing but hope and aspirational. Finally, the blackbird does sing the hope is unavoidable. Albinoni’s Adagio or a Dies Irae have the opposite effect. Fauré’s requiem is a love song to the hereafter, a poem of hope and promises that this too shall pass.

Experimental and Ambient music

The difference between the pieces mentioned above and David Toop’s audio work are that he gives no clues on mood or feelings. You make of the music what you will. That does not mean that it relegates to background music. It is not something that you can sideline or ignore.

In fact, the intellectual challenge is the bigger part of the music – you have to work out what it means. You can’t simply listen because you’re feeling up, down, weepy or happy. His audio work challenges your intellect as much as it challenges your ears if what you’re looking for is a typical musical progression.

Music carries a power only the weather has

Have you ever noticed that your mood lifts on the first sunny days of spring? Or that you feel mellow if you’re indoors and warm and well feed while snow falls gently and silently outside. Music is the only other medium with that power to reflect the environment and then, to subtly change it.