Event / Phenomenon

MTV – The day the music died ? part 1 – free content

It is like with food – authentic music and real musicians hardly exist anymore. What has happened over the last hundred years and how it changed the way we listen, receive and perceive music is profound. It is like with food, not everything that looks like food is nourishing and has nutritional value. And food and music could almost be put at par in that sense. Industry has taken over – food is not prepared and cooked anymore, and music is no longer an actively lived expression of the soul. Even here the industrial impression can hardly be ignored – music these days, they say, is produced and someone that wants to be recognized in the music business needs a good “producer” and a skilled “sound engineer”. 

As such music developed into an industrial piece of consumer good. The North American music industry has developed into a sizable branch of the national economy. According to industry sources, it contributes around 143 billion annually to the US economy and employs around 1.9 million people, just in the US alone. Clearly, commerce and dollars are driving something that seems to have a lot of influence and is met on the other side with an almost seemingly insatiable “consumer” demand. 

What is music from an astrological point of view? It is surely not an industry nor an economy. As laid out already in an earlier article, money, fame and art do not necessarily match and/or belong together. 

Why not give the word to some people that might have understood music more and better to what it has morphed into by now?

Let’s start with a conductor of our times Leonard Bernstein — “Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” 

More precise, Johann Sebastian Bach — “Music is an agreeable harmony for the honor of God and the permissible delights of the soul.” 

or how about “Music is an outburst of the soul.” ― Frederick Delius. 

And Michael Jackson put it this way: “People ask me how I make music. I tell them I just step into it. It’s like stepping into a river and joining the flow. Every moment in the river has its song.” 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart even reveals something else: “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” 

So, what’s all this music industry business about if even one of their own states “All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.” Frank Zappa.

“When you play, never mind who listens to you” – Robert Schumann

Should music not be more like Robert Schumann stated, “When you play, never mind who listens to you.” 

None of those people have made statements that would fit the present state of the “music industry”. So, there must be a disconnect between what is perceived as music today and what it was before.

A quote from Bono already gives a fairly good understanding about a modern-day musicians mind set – Music can change the world because it can change people”. Bono’s statement reveals it clearly. Many aspects of the modern day’s musical scene are not about being a medium between time and audience anymore. Instead of being a medium and being rooted in the non-visible content of time, the so called artist sets an agenda before the creative process of music and with that he/she can only achieve a plutonic outcome – a “product”. The modern “musician” with a particular ideologized message in mind turns almost into a mission broadcaster. It is now the musician who, with self-centered intent, controls the process and its outcome. It is not like in previous days, when the intuition of the artists  transmitted the non visible content of time via sounds. Free of any ego or idealistic motives – simply music – an acoustic release of a sound impression of time.

Like in Bono’s case, modern day musicians seem to be more on an opinion shaping, almost political mission. Corresponding with that an onslaught of visual effects and deciphered messages in form of symbolism and occultism. And surely, in the end, sensing the destructive nature of their own creations, trying to compensate for their bad conscience, feeling the need to “give back” in the form of proclaimed good – like aid concerts – pretending to better the world which they before with no scruple deprived.  

And if you listen to the latest “products” which have fallen off the sound conveyor belts – they can barely hide their industrial origin – beats and sounds that resemble factory noises of fabrication plants of the long-gone era of the industrial revolution. In particular the over the last 50 years ever increasing and speeding up beats remind us that the machines producing these sound workpieces seem to be getting faster and the underlying beat more cut and abrupt – no wonder that electronics have crept into the music “producing” business to keep up with the pace. Like a big steamroller, those modern industrial sound products have flattened the previously so diverse and colorful international music landscape and created rather flat and barren musical lands.

It certainly mirrors the life around us – faster, harder and colder, less human. Techno, hard metal, industrial metal, techno metal, …. – does that not sound factory-like? The electronic altered human voices that are squeezed in between, the electronic sound bits and pieces are more like pain than anything. Not an enjoyable, defined and perfected voice – not the harmony of Bach or the silence of W. Amadeus. No pleasure here – instead a mind-numbing mantra over the duration of some excruciating minutes of each “song”, repeating the same words over and over again. The worn off words of many of those workpieces are mainly expressing self petty, emotional pain mainly over broken relationships or a general disconnect to the world, which can almost be understandable under these circumstances. 

And since the “music” is not already enough to digest, the shallowness demands a visual backing in form of dancers or should we say mechanical soldiers, acting more like puppets around the main performer. The sight does not differ very much from a production belt that is surrounded by countless production robots that accurately perform their industrial curse. Trapped in a seemingly inescapable scene – caught in looping repeats – like electric pianos, turntables, CD-players in the old days – turn after turn – this time just microchip controlled, much faster executed – “perfected.” 

The effect that it has on its listeners is hard to ignore – visible around the world – masses dress and move in the mirrored fashion of their idols and symbols (Pluto !!) insync to their beats and unconsciously worshipping their hidden messages. Enslaved, just on a very different level. Clearly not an expressionist act of creation, nor freedom.

A quote from Benjamin Disraeli seems to be rather fitting here – “People die with their music still locked up inside them.”

The word music comes from the Muses, the daughters of Zeus (house 5 / Leo) and patron goddesses of creative and intellectual endeavors. Clearly, music falls into the category of the second quadrant and is a creative process, not like the people of the “music industry”, who demonstrate a technical one. This technical music is trapped in the first quadrant in an ever faster looping, mechanical meaningless way, only surviving by cranking up the velocity and technical aspects of it. The more flawless and the less emotional – the more artistic it is perceived. That does not just apply to contemporary music alone, even the spectrum of classical music cannot fend off those dependencies. 

All this is just an expression of the state of time itself; mirroring what has been lost in all of us, since music can just exist if it “lives” and flows through us all. 

In the past, music had been an expression of a common shared experience and commonly carried out. Church, tribal, family, or village events come to mind when everyone participated in making music. That surely changed – what has happened in the musical field is comparable to the industrial revolution. Small outfits and family businesses are replaced by international operating organizations and conglomerates – calling it “music industry” is certainly fitting. The previous actors, the carriers of the sound of diversity of the world, have morphed into passive, silenced consumers.  

We cannot just “consume” – music is a creative act. Obviously, we as a whole do not maintain that condition anymore and with that music has died in most places of the world, quite some time ago – sucked in and trapped in an ever-repeating loop of a big mechanical contraption instead of being present in our minds and souls and expressed through our own. 

And if we think that process is to be taken lightly and what does it really matter to me ? Think about what the ancient Greek philosopher and writer Plato once had to say about music “Musical innovation is full of danger to the State, for when modes of music change, the fundamental laws of the State always change with them.”

Since the entire process started quite a long time ago, it is certainly not just an appearance of the last five decades. The cause happened way before our time. But there is a kind of a watershed moment in our recent history that contributed, at least for a while, to that live annihilating and music suppressing process.

In light of the words of the ancient Greek writer and philosopher, I will examine in Part II the horoscope of Aug 1st,1981, when MTV, a project child of the ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks Group, started to conquer the world of cable TV with the music industry in their crosshairs.

Copyright 2020 Dirk Heinicke all rights reserved