A critical look at contemporary music by Iam Saums.
The Conquest of Noise
It does not take an aficionado to observe the declining quality of contemporary music. When we dare to explore the radio dial, we often find a barrage of noise attacking our ears and senses. We may search for the message and our connection with it, though rarely are we able to enjoy or resonate with the songs or the frequency in which they are recorded and broadcast. Where once we were empowered, inspired and happy in our listening, now we often experience the side effects of corporatized sound.
A hostile takeover has been executed with boardroom secrecy and precision. It has nearly sacrificed the essence of music. Initially it was the manipulation of the frequency in which music was tuned, performed and recorded. Next it was the elementary, commercial, propaganda-laden lyrics influencing our listening, perceptions and lifestyles. Then it was the incessant promotion of untalented people singing meaningless songs to distract us from the real issues in society and ourselves. Now it is the control of the industry by the unoriginal few at the cost of the passion and creativity of the many.
An Uphill Battle
It has become exceedingly difficult for musical artists, i.e. singer/songwriters and composers, to find their audience and niche let alone succeed in the contemporary marketplace. The industry has become an exclusive club of untalented and elitist entrepreneurs seeking instant stardom and financial windfall from engineered music that is here today, gone yesterday. This has produced a system that has mirrored the pyramid schemes found most often in the corporate finance and business sectors. Creativity and empowerment in music has been greatly replaced by popularity and profit.
The music industry is rigged. To some degree it always has been, much like many other forms of artistic expression. Creativity in music has become less about the art and more about what the artist is willing to sacrifice. Hit singles and endorsement deals are the standards of success. It is more about pushing corporate agendas then artistry. The customary recipe for music is repetitive, trance-like lyrics that program explicit and subliminal messages to alter the thought patterns of the listener. It applies mechanistic beats and multi-layered sounds more so resembling racket rather than music.
The common tuning frequency in music has been 440-hertz since the World War Era. It was altered from 444-hertz to promote the energy of war and conflict. The difference is less than a half step in diminished chromatic tuning. The energy of 440-hertz is dark, chaotic, puts the listener on edge and can incite reactions of aggression, confusion and cognitive dissonance. Most listeners of music, as well as the musicians that play it, do not possess a heightened awareness or understanding of frequencies. The denser vibrations of music impose a forceful persuasion upon even the peripheral audience.
Revolution Reveals the Truth
Most artists and musicians have accepted the conditions of the industry, much like most human beings have adopted the rules and regulations of their society’s everyday reality. Most are desperate, overwhelmed and willing to alter themselves and compromise their artistic integrity just to survive doing what they love. Very few have been able to manifest their musical vision into its most pure and true expression. Those that have, find it exceptionally challenging to gain the necessary attention, support and longevity to sustain their craft into a lucrative career.
The most vital and symbolic element in the dynamic of an artist’s successful creativity is their willingness to stand for, be confident with and share their expression. It is a given in the contemporary climate of the arts that there are far more things against than are with them. It isn’t merely their passion, desire or even the need to create and perform that can carry an artist to their melodious paradise. It exists in their way of being and the energetic quality of their expression. This is when the excitement, creative power and relatedness happens that allows musical artists to transcend the industry’s authority.
The Power of Expression
It may seem difficult to follow one’s vision in the process of writing, recording and performing music, yet it is as vital as our heart is to our body. Each one of us received the blessing of life in this world. Each one of us was given a voice and an avenue of expression. The majority of us rarely discover ours, let alone convey it. Our creativity isn’t just an ability or gift. It isn’t even for the love or the freedom we experience while we are playing music. It is our eternal life force made manifest. It is our destiny articulated in sound. It is who we truly are when we allow ourselves to be.
As artists, the measure of our creativity is in the declaration of our truth, purity and illumination. In this age of contemporary music, it is very easy to be influenced by the external forces around us. We may even catch ourselves unconsciously imitating the current popular melodies or beats we may encounter. Only our own true expression kindles our creativity, life force and energy. It transforms our environment as well as our selves in our pursuit to expand our artistic being.
Who Feels It Knows It
All music is born from silence. Everything that is creatively possible as music is first silence before it is transposed into sound. The greatest music ever composed has had an evocative presence of silence to enhance its melodies, harmonies and rhythms. The silence between the notes and beats have always expressed the enchantment and mystery of a song. Silence is the most overlooked yet powerful element in music. It is in the silence where the soul of music is found.
Creativity is an eternal, multi-dimensional presence. It plays the artist as an instrument in a communal exchange to become sound in physical reality. However, the artist must be present and open to this force for it to flow through them and be expressed to its fullest potential. This requires a great deal of de-programming and releasing what one has learned and believed to achieve an enhanced ability to feel and intuit. This is the cornerstone of the transcendent relationship between the artist’s soul and the source.
Music is not something that we write and perform. It is quite the contrary. It is a stream of consciousness that moves through us when we have reached an enlightened expression of being. All artists stand at the mouth of this current, yet we are not its source. It is a sacred, ethereal bond we establish with our willingness and dedication to let go of who we think we are and become who we were meant to be. It is not in the notes or even the instruments we play. It is in the resonation of our soul’s harmony in concert with the melodic source of creation where music thrives in its purest and truest expression.
Music is the song of our soul.
Iam Saums has been a professional musical performance artist for over 20 years. He was/is a student of The Fourth Way School in the Tradition of G.I. Gurdjieff, studied Kabbalah for more than 8 years and practiced meditation in the Jain tradition for over 11 years. He has also written poetry and short stories and is inspired to write articles about consciousness, awareness, creativity, belonging and being. iamsaums.com
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