Next month I'll be playing at a local monthly arts event in Eureka (in
northern California). I've been playing with what is really a glorified recorder
ensemble-besides recorders we have a violin, sackbutt, krumhorn, virginal and
guitar (the last two by Yours Truly). Although we play a smattering of newer
music, the bulk of our material-by far-is 16th and 17th century music. When we
play at these events, we're always well received, and I think that this is for
several reasons. People like the music-it's 'light' and harmonically easy. It's
lilting. We're not LOUD (people can talk to each other without having to
shout). The instruments we play are intrinsically interesting, and people always
ask about them. I suppose that it's a blend of familiar (the melodies and
harmonies) and different (we're not another folk music or jazz ensemble). Small
early music ensembles are perfect for these sorts of venues. And it's not
black/white: such ensembles can-and should-do serious concerts as well.
Of course, this _is_ Humboldt County, where real hippies still exist is all
their tie dyed glory. Complete with Birkenstocks (birks).
A lot has been said about the ever shrinking audience that early music has.
It's interesting to note that the entire recording industry is having trouble.
Pop music-in the broadest context- simply has more money behind it. Lawsuits
by industry heavyweights to stop computer file sharing are, I feel, acts of
desperation much like regional attempts to limit/ban the automobile 100 years
ago. Technology is making, and indeed has made, the entire recording industry, as
it is now, obselete.
In the meantime, we play the music that moves us and makes sense to us. Our
music was flourishing long before the Music Industry appeared. So, perhaps, it
doesn't make sense to gauge the relative worth of early music by how it fares
in the Industry. Play the music that moves you, go out and support people that
play such music-even if they're not 'the best'. They're carrying the banner,