the role of bad to make good in music

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
As I delve more into the history of music and drums it astonishes me how quintessential the role of evil - the worst of humanity - has been in propelling innovation and diversity in music. Out of the American civil war came marching drummers into an era of emancipation and celebration to fill dance halls and begin the process that lead to jazz drumming. I've always favoured the story of the word jazz coming from the word jasmine - the flowers supposedly used to make cheap perfume by new orleans prostitutes to hide their unwashed humid city body odour from their clientele, often met in clubs and on streets where the new music was being played - the streets smelled of jasmine - jazzy streets - jazzy music. And where did the jasmine come from? Ships from the orient bringing tea and opium. Those same ships also brought artefacts from the far east including a chinese drum which eventually transmogrified into the tomtom. Government legislation taxing public dancing lead to the decline of bigbands in the 40s and gave birth to smaller groups which meant more bands and more drummers and the birth of beebop. This also made room for drummers who didn't come from the vaudeville scene to emerge - drummers like Max Roach. Racism and bigotry ensured that some white music remained insulated from the rise of jazz so that country music was ripe to cross with jazz and give birth to rock 'n roll. Jazz, rock'n roll and country was plundered by the British, cooked in the midlands and washed back across the Atlantic as rock. Then so many other styles emerged, were insulated by snobbery or stubbornness or hatred and so were allowed to develop before brave individuals crossed the divides to give rise to the next generation of music. All the while this progress was being driven by historical events such as war, protest and drugs.

Yes, a lot of what has happened came from positive things too - but my point is: music is even able to make a good thing out of the worst of what we are.

War, slavery, prostitution, opium, tax, racism, hatred, pride, stubbornness, rebellion, drugs, theft ... All have played important roles in propelling and diversifying and enriching music.

j
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I know what music came out of the Vietnam war. What can we attribute to the Middle East wars?
 

OrangeAgent27

Silver Member
I know what music came out of the Vietnam war. What can we attribute to the Middle East wars?
My guess would be none. You're talking about two very different, yet very similar events. Neither are wars. They are "conflicts". Vietnam presented a large social movement due to the draft and a high casualty rate. People were frustrated and took to the streets. Today, the conflicts in the Middle East aren't covered nearly in the same capacity. People are able to go months without hearing about soldiers being killed, even though it happens every week. All in all, the impact is on a much smaller scale than Vietnam.

That is just my opinion, of course.
 

?uesto

Silver Member
Jazz didn't really come from the Civil War. It came from African music when slaves brought things like improvisation, clave, call and response, work songs. A lot of this birthed early gospel, ragtime, and blues which would be direct predecessors to jazz.

...From what I recall from my jazz class.

But you're right. I think struggle and oppression and war and pain carry such strong emotion that they inspire all sorts of art in some way.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
Totally agreed.

One someone studies the path of Jazz you'd be missing a huge part of it without adding in the political aspects and other social aspects of the same time frame.

Those who want to focus just on the music are missing the why's in my opinion.
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
Jazz didn't really come from the Civil War. It came from African music when slaves brought things like improvisation, clave, call and response, work songs. A lot of this birthed early gospel, ragtime, and blues which would be direct predecessors to jazz.

...From what I recall from my jazz class.

But you're right. I think struggle and oppression and war and pain carry such strong emotion that they inspire all sorts of art in some way.
don't get me wrong - something as rich as the roots of jazz didn't come from one single thing. i do beleive that the militatisation and distribution of marching based percussion would have played an important role - a fusion with african percussion ideas. the real forward momentum came at the conclusion of the war - emancipation. imagine the joy, the uncertainty, the financial trouble, the rehashing of laws and social ideas - a perfect breeding ground to turn blues into something else, to discover new ways and new reasons for music.

on another note i also beleive that technology had a very important role to play in music diversity. think how bands shrank with the invention of amplification. how guitar replaced brass because for the first time it could be louder. for example.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
Technology is a major driving force in the development of music, probably the biggest of the 20th century. Even the drum kit was a technological response to the economic problem of not being able to afford a whole percussion section for your theatre production.
 

eclipseownzu

Gold Member
Another example is the greedy record companies leading to the musicians strike in 1942. This lead to the decline of instrumental based music and a rise in music revolving around the vocalist. This completely changed popular music for the next 100 years and maybe beyond.

Actually this may be an example of bad leading to bad. Now we get Ke$ha. Nevermind.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
I know what music came out of the Vietnam war. What can we attribute to the Middle East wars?
There's plenty of Arabic popular music from the last 60-odd years on the subject of the expulsion of the Arabs from Palestine and related events, wars and nationalism. You're not likely to know much about it unless you know Arabic or have much to do with those countries tho.

I suspect there's no "Good Morning Sinai" phenomenon because they are very different, poorer and more traditional societies, but that's not to say the huge events of the region haven't permeated the music
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
The cultural conditions are different now than they were back in the 60s. I think a lot of the outrage during Viet Nam had as much to do with being drafted as it did with any moral objections to US involvement. The Middle Eastern conflicts never involved a draft, thus they affect fewer people, and the ones who did object were a much more selective group. It's tough to build a movement when you don't have people sharing a sense of danger, even if their values are different.

Also, the present generation has so many options that allow them to completely tune out anything troubling, where the Nam generation had relatively few sources of info at a time when the reality of the conflict was being beamed into the living room on one newscast or another.

Pretty good recipe for making memorable and lasting art; conflict, danger, awakening and outrage. Contrast a guy with a rough childhood and a guy with a decent childhood and see which one makes more interesting music.
 

Liebe zeit

Silver Member
The Middle Eastern conflicts never involved a draft, thus they affect fewer people.
That's not true. All middle eastern countries have conscription and all young people serve in the armed forces for 2 or 3 years. Leaving aside that there aren't bands setting up in garages in Syria and Egypt and that there isn't the same kind of music scene/industry in the west, the cultural effects of the middle eastern wars haven't been to produce the kind of music that gets on US/European TV so what is produced is pretty much invisible to outsiders.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
As I delve more into the history of music and drums it astonishes me how quintessential the role of evil - the worst of humanity - has been in propelling innovation and diversity in music. Out of the American civil war came marching drummers into an era of emancipation and celebration to fill dance halls and begin the process that lead to jazz drumming. I've always favoured the story of the word jazz coming from the word jasmine - the flowers supposedly used to make cheap perfume by new orleans prostitutes to hide their unwashed humid city body odour from their clientele, often met in clubs and on streets where the new music was being played - the streets smelled of jasmine - jazzy streets - jazzy music. And where did the jasmine come from? Ships from the orient bringing tea and opium. Those same ships also brought artefacts from the far east including a chinese drum which eventually transmogrified into the tomtom. Government legislation taxing public dancing lead to the decline of bigbands in the 40s and gave birth to smaller groups which meant more bands and more drummers and the birth of beebop. This also made room for drummers who didn't come from the vaudeville scene to emerge - drummers like Max Roach. Racism and bigotry ensured that some white music remained insulated from the rise of jazz so that country music was ripe to cross with jazz and give birth to rock 'n roll. Jazz, rock'n roll and country was plundered by the British, cooked in the midlands and washed back across the Atlantic as rock. Then so many other styles emerged, were insulated by snobbery or stubbornness or hatred and so were allowed to develop before brave individuals crossed the divides to give rise to the next generation of music. All the while this progress was being driven by historical events such as war, protest and drugs.

Yes, a lot of what has happened came from positive things too - but my point is: music is even able to make a good thing out of the worst of what we are.
Yes, I suppose, in the sense that bad things set the historical circumstances in which art is made, just like good things do. Unfortunately the data on the effects of good things side of the ledger is somewhat sketchy. Maybe someday someone will experiment in showering artists in Krugerrands and free pie, and see how that effects the culture. But I think mostly what those bad things do, if they don't kill artists outright, is prevent them from working. Lester Young is the example I always of this I always think of— he was drafted into the army, not allowed to play, subjected to brutally racist treatment, and it destroyed him as a musician— at least he came out of the experience severely diminished.

Certainly the musical cultures of the US, the Caribbean, and Brazil were enriched— eventually, after slavery was ended— by the presence of Africans brought there as slaves. I don't know if that is worth the human cost on either the slaves or the enslavers. The culture of drumming in America is actually a good example of the power of evil to suppress art— the US got the same slaves as Brazil and Cuba did, but we took away their drums. As a result, what we have is largely filtered through that military drumming thing you mention. It's special in its own way, but I don't think it's arguable that is as rich a tradition as that of those countries where African culture was allowed to survive openly.

Art can certainly survive moderate adversity (I would count “writing about a horrible war or injustice from a safe distance” as an example of that), and may thrive on it in a way, but you said the worst of humanity.
 

NUTHA JASON

Senior Administrator
Yes, I suppose, in the sense that bad things set the historical circumstances in which art is made, just like good things do. Unfortunately the data on the effects of good things side of the ledger is somewhat sketchy. Maybe someday someone will experiment in showering artists in Krugerrands and free pie, and see how that effects the culture. But I think mostly what those bad things do, if they don't kill artists outright, is prevent them from working. Lester Young is the example I always of this I always think of— he was drafted into the army, not allowed to play, subjected to brutally racist treatment, and it destroyed him as a musician— at least he came out of the experience severely diminished.

Certainly the musical cultures of the US, the Caribbean, and Brazil were enriched— eventually, after slavery was ended— by the presence of Africans brought there as slaves. I don't know if that is worth the human cost on either the slaves or the enslavers. The culture of drumming in America is actually a good example of the power of evil to suppress art— the US got the same slaves as Brazil and Cuba did, but we took away their drums. As a result, what we have is largely filtered through that military drumming thing you mention. It's special in its own way, but I don't think it's arguable that is as rich a tradition as that of those countries where African culture was allowed to survive openly.

Art can certainly survive moderate adversity (I would count “writing about a horrible war or injustice from a safe distance” as an example of that), and may thrive on it in a way, but you said the worst of humanity.
good points. i'm sure i would be a better drummer if i had been free to practice when i was younger and not beholden to an unrelated dayjob. at least these days i teach drums all day. but i'm sure there have been countless cases where we have lost out on an alternative tony williams because the person who might have become a great drummer suffered too much ill fortune to elevate their skills - or even survive.
j
 

gaz farrimond

Senior Member
That's not true. All middle eastern countries have conscription and all young people serve in the armed forces for 2 or 3 years. Leaving aside that there aren't bands setting up in garages in Syria and Egypt and that there isn't the same kind of music scene/industry in the west, the cultural effects of the middle eastern wars haven't been to produce the kind of music that gets on US/European TV so what is produced is pretty much invisible to outsiders.
I think he was alluding to conscription in Western Countries that were the prime movers in 1991, 2001 & 2003. Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Albania, Greece and Turkey in the 'West' have conscription. Most of Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa has conscription as well as most Middle East countries except Saudi, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Yemen and Oman. Tangental trivia alert: A friend of mine can't visit Greece as he was born there, but his parents left for the UK when he was a baby and he never went back to serve in the army, so there's a warrant out for his arrest if he enters Greece or Greek Cypriot Cyprus: Tangental trivia alert over.

There is a lot of interesting music coming out of those parts of the World; the only problem is because of cultural differences and social pressures most of it isn't generally what 'westerners' listen to, and if people do want to play Western music many either leave or are persecuted in some countries. One thing I will say though is would Stewart Copeland's playing for The Police be so interesting, if he hadn't had the exposure to Middle Eastern music in his youth? I don't think so, and I'd be more than happy to listen to peoples recommendations for music from non-Western countries.
 

Otto

Platinum Member
If we are referring to the general military push into the middle east that started back around 1991 and continues today...I'd say Rage Against The Machine rose from it...

As far as current music...?

I think there is validity to Nuthas' chain of thought...but I don't see the need for entertainment the same as it was in decades past...the need that brought people together in a face to face way which brought common opinions out into the open.

We now have TV to subdue people from going outside and becoming a pesky mob.


I think that the western world is a bit to happy for there to be advances in music due to social/political problems...even with the financial issues that are occuring.
 

Deathmetalconga

Platinum Member
As I delve more into the history of music and drums it astonishes me how quintessential the role of evil - the worst of humanity - has been in propelling innovation and diversity in music. Out of the American civil war came marching drummers into an era of emancipation and celebration to fill dance halls and begin the process that lead to jazz drumming. I've always favoured the story of the word jazz coming from the word jasmine - the flowers supposedly used to make cheap perfume by new orleans prostitutes to hide their unwashed humid city body odour from their clientele, often met in clubs and on streets where the new music was being played - the streets smelled of jasmine - jazzy streets - jazzy music. And where did the jasmine come from? Ships from the orient bringing tea and opium. Those same ships also brought artefacts from the far east including a chinese drum which eventually transmogrified into the tomtom. Government legislation taxing public dancing lead to the decline of bigbands in the 40s and gave birth to smaller groups which meant more bands and more drummers and the birth of beebop. This also made room for drummers who didn't come from the vaudeville scene to emerge - drummers like Max Roach. Racism and bigotry ensured that some white music remained insulated from the rise of jazz so that country music was ripe to cross with jazz and give birth to rock 'n roll. Jazz, rock'n roll and country was plundered by the British, cooked in the midlands and washed back across the Atlantic as rock. Then so many other styles emerged, were insulated by snobbery or stubbornness or hatred and so were allowed to develop before brave individuals crossed the divides to give rise to the next generation of music. All the while this progress was being driven by historical events such as war, protest and drugs.

Yes, a lot of what has happened came from positive things too - but my point is: music is even able to make a good thing out of the worst of what we are.

War, slavery, prostitution, opium, tax, racism, hatred, pride, stubbornness, rebellion, drugs, theft ... All have played important roles in propelling and diversifying and enriching music.

j
Very good points. New forms of expression come from the mixing of cultures but often, the mixing of cultures is motivated by greed and bigotry and accomplished through oppression and violence.
 

Mikecore

Silver Member
I sometimes forget that this is an international forum. My view was based on how these things went from an American perspective, so take it through that filter.
 
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