The Day. The Music. Sighs.
It has been a fresh night in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where strangers are kind and beauty is overflowing.
January 1 at the Top of the Mark. One would hope for, if not the regular piano accompaniment, then at least Muzak. Instead, the patrons — some beshorted, some besotted, all indifferent—were subjected to flak of four thundering beats per measure masqueraded as a series of popular songs. The disguise was ineffective. The lyrics was all but cancelled. The melody all but vanished somewhere along the intergenerational supply chain. All one could discern was the time signature.
Ditto at Bimbo’s 365. A set of music was followed by ninety minutes of a live round of the 4/4 time signature to ring the New Year in.
Whence the degradation of popular music? It is unlikely to stem from the paucity of skilled musicians. Surely there is no shortage of competent pianists who would be willing to jam at the Top of the Mark for tips and a meal, or free, to spread good cheer.
It must be that the demand for nunanced musical composition has waned. In the 1930s and 1940s, attending a weekly dance was one of the few modes of entertainment in town. (The movies was another.) With no Facebook and Twitter making calls on one’s time, one could devote hours each week to practicing dance moves. Today, the animalistic urge to move to a rhythm is intact but the skill to do so is undeveloped. As a result, music is reduced to the lowest common denominator: naked drums mark the 4/4 signature.
The news of this artistic degradation does not seem to have reached Starbucks, though. Starbucks still does music. Perhaps, they have bothered to perform market research. Perhaps, a large multinational is more secure about its identity than a medium-sized city. Perhaps, the demise of music has been exaggerated.
Thank you kindly.