Thursday, October 6

Exilic Perspective

Subconsciously everything becomes relevant. I had a seminar from a different module called 'exilic perspictives'. Some ideas resonated and spiralled outwards-

1)Bretch talks about the experience of playwriting in exile and explains how he has lost his audience - an audience who, with the same background, the same concerns, the same language, can relate to his work - whether a playwright choses to subvert, sooth, entertain or preach to his audience, he must know who is writing to.
So how important is the audience to a songwriter. Music carries with it this supposed 'universal' appeal, transcending nationality, class, culture - but really, what is it a about a song that makes it appeal to certain people? Is it constructed by the same social influences that Bourdieu discusses in 'Distinction : A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste' or is music somehow exempt? Music works on a sensual as well as a psychological plain - but perhaps even our senses - e.g. a vocal quality which sends tingles down our spine - have been formed by social factors.
And if a song succeeds in moving more people, should this be the measure of its success? The term 'pop' after all, comes from the word popular - so in some people's eyes, does mass appeal reduce the worth of a song? 'Commercial' is a word that has come to be used as an insult - but is there really anything wrong with writing material that is sellable? Perhaps it is the way music is inextricably linked to money and business by that word which makes it so sticky. But is it possible to create a work of art in our contemporary society, a song or a painting, which exists in a sphere absolutely removed from market forces?
Audience, i guess, is crucial to the writing and performing process.
I had an experience abroad this summer where I sang one of my songs at a party and the crowd, which functioned in a different language and had completely different musical tastes, just did not know what to make of it. Suddenly I realised how much I depend on the scene within which I circulate - both lyrically and musically - the references, the play on words, on genres - the humour an power of the songs did not carry outside its original context.
So Bretch needed an audience which shared his cultre - in exile, the his views could inspire and intrigue, he would always be an outsider. Or if you think of say Penelope Cruz - in Latin films she can play the ordinary hero, but in Hollywood she must always be the Latino - it is important to consciously chose your audience, your base, your position in order to communicate yourself the way you want to be percieved.