Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Out of Touch

Occasionally, I've seen reference to one musician or another* being out of touch with the current music scene, and it completely baffled me that this could happen.  How could a person who loved music enough to take it on as a career despite the dismal odds of "making it", a person willing to dedicate the copious time required to master their craft, let themselves get out of touch?  I've come to realize that it's a loaded question.

The fact is, being a music fan takes a lot of time - it may not seem like it, but I think that's because the activities that comprise being a fan, even a serious devotee, are easy to do in small chunks, and may not seem like "doing anything" at all.  Pressing play on a Pandora or Grooveshark station, reading Facebook or Twitter feeds, browsing Rolling Stone or Pitchfork, these are the type of things you can do with a few spare minutes between serious tasks.

But, as a pure fan, you can listen to something new every time you hit that play button, if that's your preference.  When you have music you need to learn, or mixes to evaluate, every time you want to listen to something it's a choice between listening to something productive...perhaps for the 17th time...or listening to something new and fun.  If you keep this up over a period of years, and with an intense workload, I've no doubt you could become out of touch, if not completely disillusioned with music. 

Though it feels like a second career, the truth is that I'm an amateur musician in a busy spell...I started playing Irish Traditional Music a couple of years ago, and have recently had a number of opportunities to perform in public, which I've jumped on (opportunity being notoriously fickle, and all that)...and I'm desperately trying to wrap up a Longing for Orpheus album in the remaining three months before there's a newborn in the house.  It seems as though the only music I've listened to in the past six months have been items on a todo list (in truth, I've done some recreational listening, but it's all been old favorites - no exploration). Soon, though, the  pressure will be off,** and I'll be able to catch up on the scenes and genres I typically follow.  I suspect the pros that make it in the long run figure out that they have to do this, too, and find a way to make it happen.

*Speaking of professional musicians here, and predominantly those in popular music...classical musicians have the upper hand here due to the comparatively slow pace of change in that arena.
**Yes, I get that the newborn thing will replace my current concerns and then some...but that's my current, individual situation, and I'm trying to make a general point, so just play along, k?

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