labeling art. part 1.

I am writing this in response to a small discussion on facebook that I decided to become a part of during my lunch break.  It was started with someone making a comment in jest about how “easy” it is to become a generic Christian rock band…and he used David Crowder as an example.  David Crowder is actually an artist I respect greatly as a songwriter and lyricist.  He has a few very cheesy Christian anthems, but for the most part his cds are solid representations that deal with not only declaring the glory of God, but also questioning and searching.  Similar to the Psalms.

I did not get involved in the postings as a result of that though.  I got involved when the discussion moved past that and into a very quick and uninformed labeling of art.  I am going to try my best to wrap my mind around the idea that art is not always what we want it to be.  (and in saying art – I am more generally talking about music)  It is about expression and connection.  Sometimes there is one part, sometimes there is both, and sometimes there is neither…at which point is it not art?  Does it need to connect to people to be art or does it only need to be an expression of the artist?  What if it has neither parts – would it even have been created?

When I was in high school I was very narrow minded in my music tastes.  I listened to punk and not very many songs that were not in that genre could move me.  At the time I considered everything else to be boring. lame. and in thinking in that frame of mind I started to consider music that did not appeal to me to be bad.

Ten years later I still deal with this at time, but have been moving towards a very open view of music.  So many times we try to label a band as good or bad, amazing or generic, and even christian or non-christian, but by what standards do we make those assumptions about music?  I played in a band for six years during which time I really honed my skills as a songwriter.  I also got to see many, many bands play. A majority of these bands were very young and inexperienced bands.  Much of what they wrote was very similar to bands they listened to and was nothing new to my ears.  But they were always so excited to be playing with a “touring” band and they played with everything that they had in them.  It may have been their first and last show (as high school bands come and go), but in the way they played they taught me about what it means to be an artist.

To be an artist we do not need to create a masterpiece every time we create something.  At least masterpiece as defined by the rest of the world.  I have seen some very amazing music (in my opinion) during the last few years.  Some of it was littered with wrong notes, out of tune vocals, and even forgotten words…but at times these performances have been masterpieces in my eyes. Not because the song was amazing, not because the guitar parts were great, not even because the singer was amazing…but instead they were masterpieces because I could see the passion of the songwriter coming out of the guitar and out of the voice.  I could see the hurt and the joy.  I could see into the songwriter’s heart.  And I connected with it.  Art does not always have to be in tune, in the right color, or have the correct shapes…but it should be an outpouring of what is inside of the artist. Does that mean I would want to buy a cd knowing there would be out of tune notes or music that sounded like the same cd I bought last week? No.  I am just trying to express my thoughts that music/art can be more than outward perfection.

Sometimes the finished results are not the most stellar, but if an artist is representing and expressing themselves it can be a masterpiece.  That is what I enjoyed about seeing so many young bands perform – they were doing what they love and although it may not have been done well – they expressed themselves through it.

More to come…

Published in: on September 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

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