Hello friends. My name is Art Jipson and I am a new music columnist here at DMM.
Recently someone asked me why I spend so much time thinking about, listening to, preparing a radio show, and writing and blogging about music. It is a reasonable question. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. J is well… a doctor. I teach at a university and the expectations are that I will publish, teach, and do service for the university and the broader community. This means that there are always too few hours in the day. Now, this is not a cry session – look how super busy this fellow is every day, oh no – we all are busy. We all have numerous expectations placed on us through family, community, work, and more. So, the question arises again: Why should any of us spend so much time with music everyday?
This is a far harder question for me to answer then I would have originally thought. But in the end a simple thought comes to mind. Music can change the world – it can change people, groups of people, and movements of people. And this is meant in not some silly, way too easy sense of “let’s go out and change the world with a festival about world peace.” Although for the record, we support world peace, it does sound like a nice idea.
Close your eyes for a second and think about your favorite song or favorite tune. Feel free to hum it while you read on…
Music can change you. The feel, the rhythm, clever lyrics, or the overall gestalt of a great song – all of this can transform the listener from one feeling or aspect to another. Music can mobilize for social change. The music of the 1960s had transformative properties and did mobilize the anti-war effort, peace movement, and, of course, the civil rights movement. Even if the protesters in the end may have become stockbrokers, music can encapsulate the alienation, isolation or happiness and joy that a person is feeling. Or take them there. Bob Dylan is one obvious example of this. Amazing song writer and the limitations of his voice only increase the urgency and impact of his words.
Music can transport you. New vistas, new territory, new ideas, and new perspectives are all possible as a result of music. The power of art is that it can help you explore and be changed through the exploration. Music can show us combination of sound and ideas that we may never have expected. Creative ideas, mash-ups, mixing, new textures, scratching, electronica, a powerful vocal, all have fantastic efforts to address new combination of sound, clips, and music. Who could have guessed that Robert Plant would make one of the best albums of his career with Alison Krauss?
Music is always available and new discoveries abound. There are so many great musicians, bands, projects that new music is a constant of new social media. But let’s be honest for a moment, new music is a constant of the old media as well. Go to a show, go to a new musician showcase, go walk down the street where bands play on a Friday night – and wherever you live – you know where that street is located and there will be players singing old and new songs. One of my favorite new discoveries, Dayton’s own The Rebel Set, was a band that we recently discovered. And I remember thinking: “Where have you been my whole life?” And the answer is right here for you to discover. Turn off your television, forget the big pre-formatted radio stations (you know what I mean) and discover the music that is just off the usual path.
Music matters. Still not sure what I mean? Try an experiment: Spend a day without listening to music. How do you feel? Then spend a day listening to music. How do you feel now? There are numerous studies that demonstrate how your affective life – your emotional landscape – can be directly shaped by the music that you experience. And my guess is that most of us listen to music far more than we realize. Music would be conspicuous by its absence.
This is why music matters for me. Perhaps you have some other thoughts, please let me know – I look forward to the dialogue about music. And while you are considering these ideas, listen to some new music today – especially some of the amazing music being made right here in the Miami Valley. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.