Monday, August 14, 2006
Much has been said recently of an “original voice” being much overstated or over-rated.
The music that really counts, the music we all go back to hearing again and again, by performers and composers both, has that most rare of qualities. Bach had it. Mozart had it. Beethoven had it. Mahler had it. There are many imitators, but no one else quite sounds like them. Sergei Prokofiev, Stravinksy, Debussy, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Irving Berlin, and Frank Sinatra had it.
It’s no guarantee of success. There are thousands with an original voice from whom we’ll never hear a note, read a word, or view a paint stroke. There are hosts of others with nothing original or special to say, many with laudable careers, but they probably won’t last more than a decade.
Like most serious artists, I aspire to it, but I try not to worry about it. Like chasing a dream, composers and artists or every discipline can twist and break their psyches trying to find the Holy Grail. Perhaps it appears, or it doesn't. Is it subjective? A matter of taste? Is it marketing? I don’t really know, but I doubt it. As in science, some individuals have a special insight. And every era has their great and original moments.
I think the best we can hope for is to find the magical whisper of an original voice in the shouting morass. And the rest will fade sooner than later.
S’cuse me, gotta go put on some Louis Armstrong ...