Saturday, August 31, 2013

VIDEO: Marshall McLuhan: The World is a Global Village

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2010/04/marshall_mcluhan_the_world_is_a_global_village_.html


The emergence of “new media” and “social media” - it has all looked fairly revolutionary, the beginning of something entirely new.

But, when you step back and consider it, these innovations mark perhaps just an acceleration of a trend that began long ago - one that Marshall McLuhan, the famed communication theorist, first outlined in the 1960s.

The vintage clip above gives you a feel for this, and McLuhan himself appears at around the 2:45 minute mark.

As you watch this video, you start to realize how prescient McLuhan was, and how social media is almost the logical fulfillment of the trend he saw emerging.

We’ve added this piece to our big collection of 275 Cultural Icons, which features great writers, artists and thinkers speaking in their own words.

Friday, August 30, 2013

VIDEO: The Beatles’ Rooftop Concert: The Last Gig Filmed in January 1969

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2011/09/the_beatles_rooftop_concert.html


On a cold day in January 1969, The Beatles, who hadn’t played live since 1966, took to the rooftop of the headquarters of Apple Records, located at 3 Savile Row, in central London.

And there they played an impromptu last gig, much to the delight of Londoners on nearby rooftops … and to the chagrin of the police.

At the time, The Beatles were recording their album, Let It Be, and the rooftop show let them run through various tracks from that last effort.

Songs played during the set include “Get Back,” where the Beatles were accompanied by Billy Preston on the keyboards, and “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got A Feeling,” “One After 909,” and “Danny Boy.”

And finally “Dig A Pony” and another version of “Get Back.” You can listen to the complete audio recording of the concert here - 62 minutes in total.

Famously, The Beatles’ live legacy ends with the police shutting down the show (it was a noise violation, you know?) and John Lennon uttering the immortal words, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition.” That’s going out in style …

Footnote: It’s not clear which band played the first rooftop concert, but one thing is for sure. Jefferson Airplane played their own rooftop gig on December 7, 1968, and Jean-Luc Godard filmed it. Once again, the police pay a friendly visit. Watch it here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

VIDEO: "War" by Edwin Starr (Original Video - 1969)

Hi all,

Excuse the blip in the middle of this video, but as its the original footage (of Edwin Starr), I thought its worth posting - enjoy!


by Ben Murphy

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

SPECIAL NOTICE: A Radio Play Based on Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Coming Monday - Watch the Trailer

by , in Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/08/trailer-for-the-dark-side-of-the-moon.html


This year, Pink Floyd’s masterful prog rock album The Dark Side of the Moon turns 40. Yes, 40.

Exploring themes ranging from conflict and greed, to mental illness and the passing of time, The Dark Side of the Moon has “everything you’d ever want …: Grand, transporting melodies, synapse-ripping synth experiments and sound collages, intricate musicianship, state-of-the-art studio sound and John Lennon-meets-Thom Yorke lyrics like ‘The lunatic is on the grass/Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs/Got to keep the loonies on the path.’”

Or, so that’s how Rolling Stone magazine sums up the album that it now ranks 43rd on its list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”

Next Monday, BBC Radio 2 will honor Pink Floyd’s magnum opus with a new radio drama from legendary playwright Sir Tom Stoppard. Apparently Stoppard (who co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil and Shakespeare in Love) first considered writing a play based on the album back in 1973.

Now, some 40 years later, he has “transformed the Pink Floyd classic into a psychedelic mash-up of Kantian philosophy, epic rock and John Prescott soundbites,” writes The Independent.

To get you ready for Darkside, as the play will be called, Aardman Animations has created a three-minute trailer that evokes themes from the album and play. Says the director Darren Dubicki:
I spent time absorbing the rich detail from the Pink Floyd album, their art and the drama script. What was fundamentally important to us was that we retained a consistent visual tone that echoed the imagery created over the years for the band. The insanely surreal and powerful artwork created by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis has always had a strong distortion on reality. Their sense of space and twisted context make for some uncomfortably beautiful art. This tone has been consistent for decades and we wanted to honour this with our contemporary digital, and analogue, slant on the style.
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Monday, August 26, 2013

‘Fire’: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Crazy World of Arthur Brown single Fire coverby , Psychedelic Sight.com: http://psychedelicsight.com/12-fire-arthur-brown/

“You’re gonna burn,” the seemingly mad singer warned the world.

It wasn’t a stretch. This was 1968, and Arthur Brown’s prophecy was right in tune with the times.

The violent and twisted events of that year - the Tet Offensive, the King assassination, race riots and the rest of the chaos - played like a fever dream by October, when Brown’s single “Fire” found itself at the top of the U.S. pop charts.

The strange but infectious song came by its success honestly, pounding its way out of AM radios and jukeboxes throughout that fall.

“I am the god of hellfire and I bring you fire!” thundered Brown, an unknown singer and performance artist from Britain. Few who heard this shouted-word intro at full volume ever forgot it.

Fire was hot. The airwaves already had been scorched: First, the Doors’ “Light My Fire.” Then the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Fire.” Both seismic events in the musical world - at the time and in retrospect.

And then came the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and the promise of its debut single, a 3-minute rush of radical rock, fueled by pulsating Hammond organ and horns. Brown’s theatrical shrieks, howls and maniacal laughter sold the madness.

“I think it was the surprise of seeing theater in rock at that time,” Brown says today of his unlikely stint as a rock star.

Brown performed in make-up, at times wearing a flaming headdress, Iron Man-like mask and outlandish robes. The act caused a sensation on the burgeoning rock festival circuit (one writer said of Brown’s shtick: It was “the greatest single spectacle since the Rape of the Sabines”).

Brown’s two-man band, organist Vincent Crane and drummer Drachen Theaker (replaced later by Carl Palmer) furiously pumped out the sounds without benefit of guitar or bass.

Crane was every bit as essential to the group’s success as Brown, exhibiting serious chops in soul, stride piano, jazz and classical.

Pete Townshend, who saw himself as an A&R man for the Who managers’ new Track Records, caught the Brown trio at the historic happening “The Technicolor Dream” in London, spring of 1967.

The rock opera king associate-produced “Fire” and the rest of “The Crazy World of Arthur Brown” album with Who manager Kit Lambert.

The bizarre act fit in with Townshend’s self-appointed mission of finding “a stable of eccentric misfits” for the new label, which already had landed the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

And the hitmaking songwriter knew he heard a No. 1 single in the Brown trio’s song “Fire,” which he recorded at Ryemuse Studio (Pink Floyd, Cream) in Mayfair.

“Fire” was the centerpiece of a side-long, five-track rock operetta once called “Tales From the Neurotic Nights of Hieronymous Anonymous” (now, it’s mostly known as “The Fire Suite”).

This raises the question of where “Fire” properly begins. Let’s say with “Fanfare: Fire Poem,” in which our hero Hieronymous begs to be released from some fresh new hell.

Brown raps over a groove-intensive Mose Allison-style riff, flashing back to when he was lying in the grass by a river that suddenly turned into an inferno (note obvious similarity to War’s “Spill That Wine” of two years later).

The horrified hero sees “all these shapes being sucked into the flames, writhing and trying to escape.”
A giant being invites him to “come on home” before plunging him into hell.

“I am the god of hellfire and I bring you fire!” opens the famous hit, in which the vengeful satanic creature belittles the life of man - “fire - to destroy all you’ve done … to end all you’ve become.”

Brown says his pal Hendrix helped break the single in the U.S. by taking it around to soul and R&B radio stations.

“They thought I was black,” Brown told Mojo magazine recently. “Because I had the make-up and because I was singing in a style that they didn’t associate with white singers.”

That style would be closer to Little Richard and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins than anything emerging from the psychedelic arena. Unfortunately, the roar of “Fire” was followed by radio silence.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown collapsed as its brilliant organ player was incapacitated by mental health problems.

Brown carried on as an avant-garde rock artist, but the trio classifies as a one-hit wonder these days - “Fire,” its self-penned epitaph, still gets play on classic oldies stations.

Fortunately, the band also was survived by a brilliant self-titled LP that ranks No. 16 on this site’s list of classic psychedelic rock albums. The uninitiated should definitely come and buy.
* * * * *
Liner notes: Brown currently is engaged in a celebration of his hit with the “45 Years of Fire” tour that “so far” has been limited to Europe. He’s crowd-sourcing his next recording project: “I have at least one more good album in me.” Check it out on the psychedelic Arthur Brown web site.

Also, enjoy this remarkable day-glo video with his recent cover of “Kites” … I caught the original Crazy World of Arthur Brown twice, at the Miami Pop Festival of 1968 and shortly thereafter at War Memorial in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The second concert delivered the full Brown spectacle, complete with the singer emerging naked from a giant egg and later singing as the pope. Vincent Crane’s keyboard genius on full display. Flame on! Never saw anything like it.


Friday, August 23, 2013

A Short Film on the Famous Crosswalk From the Beatles’ Abbey Road Album Cover

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/07/a-short-film-on-the-famous-crosswalk-from-the-beatles-abbey-road-album-cover.html


Why don't we do it in the Road? from chris purcell on Vimeo.

It’s one of the most famous images in pop culture: the four members of the Beatles - John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison - striding single-file over a zebra-stripe crossing on Abbey Road, near EMI Studios in St. John’s Wood, London.

The photograph was taken on the late morning of August 8, 1969 for the cover of the Beatles’ last-recorded album, Abbey Road.

The idea was McCartney’s. He made a sketch and handed it to Iain Macmillan, a freelance photographer who was  chosen for the shoot by his friends Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Macmillan had only ten minutes to capture the image. A policeman stopped traffic while the photographer set up a ladder in the middle of the road and framed the image in a Hasselblad camera.

The Beatles were all dressed in suits by Savile Row tailor Tommy Nutter - except Harrison, who wore denim. It was a hot summer day.

Midway through the shoot, McCartney kicked off his sandals and walked barefoot. Macmillan took a total of only six photos as the musicians walked back and forth over the stripes. The fifth shot was the one.

Since then, the crossing on Abbey Road has become a pilgrimage site for music fans from all over the world. Every day, motorists idle their engines for a moment while tourists reenact the Beatles’ crossing.

It’s a special place, and filmmaker Chris Purcell captures the sense of meaning it has for people in his thoughtful 2012 documentary, Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?

The five-minute film, narrated by poet Roger McGough, won the 2012 “Best Documentary”award at the UK Film Festival and the “Best Super Short” award at the NYC Independent Film Festival.

When you’ve finished watching the film, you can take a live look at the crosswalk on the 24-hour Abbey Road Crossing Webcam.

Abbey Road Album Cover
via That Eric Alper

Thursday, August 22, 2013

VIDEO: Watch John Cleese as Sherlock Holmes in The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It

by , Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/08/watch-john-cleese-as-sherlock-holmes-in-the-strange-case-of-the-end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it.html


Here’s something to lighten your day a little: Monty Python’s John Cleese as Sherlock Holmes in the 1977 British television film The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It.

As the title suggests, it’s a very silly film. Cleese plays Arthur Sherlock Holmes, grandson of the famous detective. His sidekick, Dr. Watson, is similarly descended from a familiar character in the Arthur Conan Doyle stories.

Together they set out to foil a diabolical plot by their nemesis, a descendent of Professor Moriarty.

The modern-day Holmes has some of the same mannerisms as his famous grandfather, but is decidedly less clever and likes to keep his calabash pipe filled with exotic varieties of cannabis.

Cleese co-wrote the script with Jack Hobbs and the film’s director, Joseph McGrath, who is best known for directing the Peter Sellers movies Casino Royale and The Magic Christian.

It was produced for London Weekend Television by Humphrey Barclay, who is generally credited with bringing together much of what eventually became the Monty Python cast, including American animator Terry Gilliam, in the subversive late-1960s children’s show Do Not Adjust Your Set.

Cleese’s wife at the time, Connie Booth, who was also collaborating with him on the TV series Fawlty Towers, plays the detective’s landlady Mrs. Hudson. And Arthur Lowe is very funny as the dim-witted Dr. Watson.

The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It is a low-budget affair - extremely goofy - and not for everyone.

But if you’re a fan of classic British TV comedy and you love outlandish gags, you should get a kick out of it. The funniest parts begin after the 13-minute mark, when Cleese arrives onscreen.

You can find The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It in our collection of 550 Free Movies Online.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Doors Keyboardist Ray Manzarek (1939-2013) Tells the Story of the Classic Song, ‘Riders on the Storm’

by Open Culture: www.openculture.com/2013/05/doors_keyboardist_ray_manzarek_1939-2013_tells_the_story_of_the_classic_song_riders_on_the_storm.html

Ray Manzarek of the Doors died Monday of cancer (ED: This, of course, is a while back now). He was 74.

Manzarek’s jazz-inflected, classically influenced keyboard playing, woven together with Jim Morrison’s baritone vocals, helped define the sound of the 1960s.

Manzarek and Morrison were both recent graduates of the UCLA film school in 1965 when they had a chance encounter on Venice Beach.

Morrison sang a few songs for Manzarek, and the two decided right then and there to start a band. Drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger soon joined, and the Doors were born.

From the beginning, the classically trained Manzarek played musical foil to Morrison’s poetic wildman persona. “We just combined the Apollonian and the Dionysian,” Manzarek said of the band in 1997.

“The Dionysian side is the blues, and the Apollonian side is classical music. The proper artist combines Apollonian rigor and correctness with Dionysian frenzy, passion and excitement. You blend those two together, and you have the complete, whole artist.”

For a fascinating look at just how beautifully things blended together with the Doors, watch above as Manzarek tells the story of the band’s classic 1971 single, “Riders on the Storm.”

The scene is from the 2011 documentary Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman, which chronicles the making of the Doors’ sixth and final studio album. The band recorded “Riders on the Storm” in December of 1970.

By the time L.A. Woman was released in April of 1971, Morrison had already moved to Paris, where he died a few months later. “Riders on the Storm” reached number 14 on the Billboard charts in America. You can hear the finished recording below.

Friday, August 16, 2013

VIDEO: Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock: Historic Concert Captured on Film

by Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com/2013/08/jimi-hendrix-live-at-woodstock-historic-concert-captured-on-film.html


By the time Jimi Hendrix arrived onstage at the Woodstock Festival on the morning of August 18, 1969, the crowd of nearly 500,000 people had dwindled to fewer than 40,000.

Much of Max Yasgur’s farm looked desolate. Litter was strewn everywhere and - hard as it may be to imagine - scores of people were streaming out as Hendrix played.

The festival was billed as “3 Days of Peace & Music,” but rain and other problems delayed Hendrix’s festival-closing performance until 8:30 on the morning of the fourth day, a Monday.

The people who remained were exhausted and wet and just waking up. As festival organizer Michael Lang writes in The Road to Woodstock:

The massive stage was sparsely populated compared to how packed it had been all weekend with musicians, crew, and friends. Jimi, a red scarf around his head and wearing a white fringed and beaded leather shirt, looked almost like a mystical holy man in meditation. His eyes closed, his head back, he’d merged with his music, his Strat - played upside down since he’s a lefty - his magic wand. Though he was surrounded by his band, he projected the feeling he was all alone. As he almost reverently started the national anthem, the bedraggled audience, worn out and muddy, moved closer together. Those of us who’d barely slept in three days were awakened, exhilarated by Jimi’s song. One minute he was chording the well-worn melody, the next he was reenacting “bombs bursting in air” with feedback and distortion. It was brilliant. A message of joy and love of country, while at the same time an understanding of all the conflict and turmoil that’s torn America apart.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience had broken up a few weeks earlier, with the departure of bassist Noel Redding.

At the festival, Hendrix and drummer Mitch Mitchell were joined by two musicians Hendrix had worked with before he was famous - bassist Billy Cox and guitarist Larry Lee - along with conga players Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez.

The group had rehearsed for less than two weeks in Hendrix’s rented house near Woodstock. They called themselves “Gypsy Sun & Rainbows,” or “Band of Gypsys” for short.

Hendrix’s psychedelic performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was immortalized in Michael Wadleigh’s Academy Award-winning 1970 film, Woodstock.

A two-disc DVD capturing most of Hendrix’s nearly two-hour set, called Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock, was released in 1999. The 57-minute film above is an abridged version.

It begins with an excerpt from “Message to Love” (the song Hendrix opened with) played over general scenes of the festival. It goes on to show Hendrix onstage, playing the following songs:
  1. “Fire”
  2. “Izabella”
  3. “Red House”
  4. “Jam Back at the House”
  5. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”
  6. “Star-Spangled Banner”
  7. “Purple Haze”
  8. “Woodstock Improvisation”
  9. “Villanova Junction”
The songs in the film are not presented in the order Hendrix played them in, and some have been omitted.

Second guitarist Larry Lee (who can be heard soloing in “Jam Back at the House”) sang lead vocals on “Mastermind” and “Gypsy Woman/Aware of Love,” but those songs have been cut from this version.

Also left out are “Spanish Castle Magic,” “Hear My Train a Comin’,” “Lover Man,” “Foxy Lady,” “Stepping Stone,” and an encore of “Hey Joe.”

Despite the omissions, this abridged version of Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock is a fascinating and enjoyable look at one of the great moments in rock and roll history.

Related Content:
In 1969 Telegram, Jimi Hendrix Invites Paul McCartney to Join a Super Group with Miles Davis
See Jimi Hendrix’s First TV Appearance, and His Last as a Backing Musician (1965)
Watch Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile’ Performed on a Gayageum, a Traditional Korean Instrument

Sunday, August 11, 2013

VIDEO: Cat Stevens - Peace Train

by ne033x

Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun

I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Something good's bound to come

For out on the edge of darkness
There runs the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

Peace train's a holy roller
Everyone jump upon the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
This is the peace train

Get your bags together
Come bring your good friends too
Because it's getting nearer
Soon it will be with you

Come and join the living
It's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer
Soon it will all be true

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

I've been crying lately
Thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating?
Why can't we live in bliss?

For out on the edge of darkness
There rides the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

Come on, come on, come on the peace train ...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Woodstock

by Amy Ferguson, Do You Remember: https://www.doyouremember.com/memories/woodstock--2 

















As I grew older and developed my own sense of style and taste, I looked to the ‘60’s and ‘70s for some sort of direction and instantly became fascinated with the things I discovered.

I started listening to the local oldies radio station which exposed me to bands like The Beatles and Cream.

I did school projects on Don McLean’s song “American Pie,” where I discovered that the father, son and holy ghost didn’t refer to any specific religion but acted as a metaphor to describe the deaths of three famous musicians Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and JP Richardson.

Rewind to age eight sitting in a hotel room in Raleigh, North Carolina, and watching La Bamba, which is the first time I found out who Ritchie Valens really was.

The summer going into my freshman year of college, I would climb onto my parent’s roof with an old Sony boombox and call into the radio station to request songs like “Be my Baby” by the Ronettes, which I now associate with sunburns and Panama Jack.

My yearbook quote was Lennon and the posters hung on the walls in my room were Hendrix. I hummed Jefferson Airplane and fell in love for the first time with a boy who let me borrow Bob Dylan’s memoir “Chronicles” (I still have the book).

As the summer faded and romances fizzled like stale soda, I entered a new place. I moved to a small town on the west coast of Florida to attend school. This is where I met Jerry Garcia.

My friend Ashley, whose closet was a swirl of Tie-Die shirts and flowy skirts, burned hours’ worth of the Grateful Dead onto CD’s. We watched films like the Festival Express and swooned over Janis Joplin’s raspy voice.

We didn't go out. Not because there was nothing to do, but because we rather drink in the company of our friends (who were mostly dead) and dance to the sounds of their voices.

During spring semester, we met Mindy. Mindy was the mother of one of our friends, Chris. She told us about the time she had sliders with Neil Young on Ft. Lauderdale beach and how he fell in love with her.

She showed us old photographs. She was a thin brunette, captured in a thick fur coat, walking down the streets of Greenwich Village. She was too beautiful. I imagined all rock stars must have fallen in love at first glance.

But I was more so fascinated about the time she ran away alone to Woodstock when she was sixteen, and how she roamed around naked on acid petting goats. That night, we talked for hours over glasses of wine and second-hand smoke.

I haven’t seen her since then, nor have I seen Ashley, because the following month, I moved farther north. It’s been a few years since then, and I still think about Mindy and the stories she told us that night.

Part of me wonders if she was just a lush, soaking up our youth because hers had nearly evaporated, reveling in the way our eyes lit up when the words “Woodstock” echoed in her big, empty house. But maybe she was there (although some details must have been forged).

Either way, I realize that the truth was unimportant because telling too much of it would tarnish the place she had created for us. Her story was a vessel to a world we would never experience but only dreamed of being a part of.

It’s been said that each time you remember something, it changes. And while the memory of the jacket my grandmother wore the night of my parent’s 25th anniversary may have been black instead of yellow, it’s the altering of small details that elicit a brighter picture, allowing us to revisit a colorful place full of wonder and excitement.

So, I have never been to Woodstock, at least not physically, but I one day hope to visit a tangible place that offers an insatiable atmosphere prompted by pure spontaneity; an event built on the facets of good music and good people that all generations will remember.

Monday, August 5, 2013

SPECIAL REPORT: Keeping Music Live: Government's Live Music Office Should be Welcomed

by Jane Davidson, University of Western Australia

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Encouraging live music through initiatives such as the newly-announced National Live Music Office makes good social, cultural and economic sense (shutterstock)
Federal arts minister Tony Burke this week announced the government’s commitment to setting up a National Live Music Office. Burke said the taskforce will:
… partner with governments, local councils, communities, businesses, musicians and songwriters on how to lift barriers to ensure more acts can perform at venues around the country.
Ianto Ware, an experienced musician and coordinator, will manage the office, which is to be administered by the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) and funded to the tune of A$560,000 over the next three years.

Each state is set to have a contemporary music performance ambassador representing their interests. Looking at these facts, a broad consultative approach is anticipated.

The agenda is aimed at addressing a range of strict Australian planning regulations, which include noise restrictions, tough security requirements and prohibitive fees for liquor licensing.

Along with other regulatory conditions, these restrictions jeopardise the sustainability of live performance venues. Invigorating and developing a regional touring plan is another hot topic for consideration.

APRA statistics indicate that venue-based contemporary live music contributes to a $1.2 billion industry. This services some 42 million patrons and offers significant employment opportunities. Economically, this provides a very strong argument to keep live venues.

Flick through any article on the contemporary music business and you will learn about the financial drivers of music production and dissemination. The Live Music Office will therefore focus on musical supply and profit.

Of course, as many bloggers are keen to report, the contemporary live music landscape shifts at a fairly rapid pace.

Some of the musical changes themselves may be reactions to the regulation and restriction described above. Whatever the case, the once staple musical diet of loud gigs at the pub has certainly waned.

Smaller and more intimate performance spaces airing grassroots setups have entered the scene. Since positive artistic changes often arise in reaction to dominant trends and come from the most obscure corners of society, the hope is that the office will develop a plan to encourage that ever-varying creative pulse.

The proposed work of the office has some community focus. Perhaps from this, important social and financial goals will emerge. When Hoodoo Gurus lead singer and NSW Live Music Ambassador Dave Faulkner heard of his role, he commented:
People gathering together, making and enjoying music is a spiritual experience as old as humanity itself. Music unites us all.
Faulkner is correct. Compelling research increasingly demonstrates that music’s function is founded on the communion it offers people. Consider the sung utterances and lilting bodily rocking which develop in a mutual way between adult and infant.

These behaviours offer adaptive value for both participants in the relationship, nurturing crucial feelings of emotional connection and attachment.

The spontaneous song and dance of a toddler is an extension of infant-directed musical mutuality. These musical behaviours are elaborated in the adult world in socially ritualised contexts. These include group singing and playing of musical instruments.

Contemporary music is a “uniting” socio-cultural experience. Its cultural place makes it the most pervasive of all musical forms.

We’ve all seen audiences coordinating with the rhythms and harmonies of their favourite artists: they sing, weep, and laugh in the shared musical space. It is a very different experience to the iPod.

The way we consume music may be changing but live music remains an important economic and cultural phenomenon (AAP/T Nearmy)

Live music provides a space for performers and audience to participate in an unfurling dialogue. It is a powerful social practice, but I wouldn’t be limiting the encouragement of live venues for contemporary music only. All musical genres have live performance value.

Indeed, the practice of music therapy is offered across a range of musical forms. From the consulting room to the community hall there is indisputable evidence of improved well-being. Moods can be lifted and concentration increased as a direct consequence of musical engagement.

Live music can also have a much broader meaning than offering good gigging venues. They provide opportunities for artists and audiences to communicate. Research shows that the benefits of music are significantly intensified when you make the music yourself.

For example, when seniors who had never previously participated in music joined a singing group, they presented great benefits.

After two years of participation they had made fewer visits to their GPs when compared with their friends who participated in other forms of activity. They also reported feeling more positive and more physically exercised than prior to their music-making experiences.

Music-making places considerable demands on the performer’s human central nervous system. Evidence shows the effects on brain plasticity are more pronounced in musicians than among those engaged in other skilled activities, especially those who commence music participation earlier in life.

So let’s encourage live music spaces. But let’s also offer support and opportunity to people across all generations, backgrounds, interests and musical tastes to enable them to learn to make music themselves. Investing in good music education makes good social, cultural and economic sense.

Jane Davidson has received a number of ARC grants and is deputy director at an ARC Centre of Excellence.
The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.