This Noteís for You
By Keith Waller
What kind of music do you listen
to, or play? In the beginning of my musical quest, back in my tweens, I
could respond quickly to that question by naming a few key artists or
genres of music. Ah, but I was so much older then, Iím younger than that
now and find the question a little more difficult to qualify.
The problem comes in trying to
distinguish between all those pesky genres, the seemingly separate and
distinctly different categories that we favor according to our personal
tastes. These terms come in handy when trying to figure out where to
find a disk in the music stores, but suggests that different styles of
music exist in a vacuum, without apparent connection.
Iím finding the more I listen to
and play music, the more Iím led back to the same point in time, to a
confluence of musical styles. Call this the four main ingredients of
popular music. For me, that confluence is located in the southern United
States around the period of the 1920s when early urban jazz met country
blues, gospel music of the rural South and European folk music
traditions. We all know who the baby was that came from this union and
what it was named: Rock Ďní roll.
However, I donít think you can
look at that moment in time as begetting just one thing. Like an
explosion that gives birth to a lot of things at once, itís the
birthplace of everything we know as popular music.
Just downstream of this
confluence, the river divides into a maze of channels. All the main
genresórock, blues, jazz and soulóstart dividing into numerous
sub-genres. The river just keeps branching out, with channels going off
in all directions and coming back together again, but itís still the
same river. My 13-year-old son will disagree that the heavy metal music
he is listening too has anything to do with my Blind Willie McTell
records, but the dots do connect. Travel back upstream far enough and
you arrive at the same source.
In the American melting pot of
music, the separate ingredients that went into the stew have become so
thoroughly blended that it can be difficult to single out the individual
flavors. And thatís the great thing about our musical heritage, what
went into the stew doesnít really matter; we just know that it tastes
Keith Waller, an engineer, is an
avid music fan and guitarist.