by Steve Eulberg
Focusing on the challenges that artists face in the current digital and mechanistic day and age, T Bone Burnett gave the keynote address at the AmericanFest in September of this year.
I found these words echoing in my soul:
“Music is to the United States as wine is to France. We have spread our culture all over the world with the soft power of American music. We both have regions- France has Champagne, we have the Mississippi Delta. France has Bordeaux, we have the Appalachian Mountains. France has Epernay, we have Nashville. Recorded music has been our best good will ambassador. The actual reason the Iron Curtain fell, is because the Russian kids wanted Beatles records. Louis Armstrong did more to spread our message of freedom and innovation than any single person in the last hundred years. Our history, our language, and our soul are recorded in our music. There is no deeper expression of the soul of this country than the profound archive of music we have recorded over the last century.”
This is my experience of the power of music to bring people together across the divides of background, experience, age, culture, gender.
I see it six days a week in my Music Together classes with preschool children and families who speak languages from Korea, Russia, Greece, China, Serbian, Japan, Israel, India, Pakistan, Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, Germany, Australia, England, Canada and the USA (and probably several more that I can’t even identify!)
But what confounds the machines and the census takers is what T Bone said, which is the reason for what we pursue in music:
“Art is a holy pursuit.
Beneath the subatomic particle level, there are fibers that vibrate at different intensities. Different frequencies. Like violin strings. The physicists say that the particles we are able to see are the notes of the strings vibrating beneath them.
If string theory is correct, then music is not only the way our brains work, as the neuroscientists have shown, but also, it is what we are made of, what everything is made of. These are the stakes musicians are playing for.” (read the entire address here: keynote address)
These are certainly the stakes that I am playing for.
What experiences do you have to share which relate to these descriptions?