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music just for musicians?

I'd like to comment on an issue that Greg raises:

>If you people want to see all of the manufacturers run and create loopers 
>will tell you what it will take: Not the esoteric kinds of things that we 
>all love to create and listen to because we know what is good, but 
>that the great unwashed masses can enjoy as well.  I hate to say it, but 
>there are not many artists who are musicians-musicians as well as pop 

Most of us, perhaps all of us, know this to be all too true.  Great
creativity and popular acclaim are not mutually exclusive, but set
overlap seems to be quite small.

I posit that, despite fantastic technological advances, we live in an
era of mediocrity and sameness, perhaps even shallowness.  I think
there is a great hunger for depth and quality, but I think the pace
of late 20th century life makes the search for meaning very costly,
perhaps even frivolous.  Very often there is not enough time to
search beyond the obvious cookie-cutter solutions, so we grab for
the salient stimuli that are easily within our grasp.  Life seems to
work if only we can keep up with the maddening pace of progress, if
only we can swim with the pack.  Very often this can feel like a no win
game.  In the face of enormous challenges and enormous potential, the
lowest common denominators often rise to the top.

>Just look at how many different kinds of distortion pedals have become 
>available since the explosion of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam!

I know about this phenomenon, having a 12 year old son who pounds this
stuff out on his white stratocatser, exclusively.  While respecting his
individuality and accepting his taste as his own, it is hard not to wish
more for him.  I'm thrilled to have a kid who has developed a passion
for the guitar on his own.  But I am saddened when hype outpaces substance
and image all but eclipses talent.  And I am angered by the huge market
which is created and nurtured by large industry: industry without
conscience, which is responsible for the mass production of dreck.

Although we speak here about music and the almost magical technology that
becomes our artist's palette, I cannot help but to be drawn to the bigger
picture of the times in which we create.  Is it historical "business as 
that substance gives way to fashion?  The 60's did not feel that way to me,
but no doubt I am myopic and biased by my own experience.  I feel that the
US, and perhaps much of the world, has become more conservative since those

I'd like to hear the thoughts of others.  Do we just detach ourselves
from the mainstream, and just do what we do?  Perhaps this is best.  Or
do we have a *responsibility* to do more.

Some years ago, I studied with a very talented jazz guitarist and soulful
human being, Ted Dunbar, at Rutgers University.  He used to say that "music
will save the world".  And he was never speaking figuratively.

What do you think?



Emmanuel Angel
Nuclear Medicine Physics and Instrumentation Group
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA