The Original Live Music Forum

Phil Little Bulletin

The opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and should not be neccessarily associated with any other contributors.


Friday 1st December 2006 - The Year The Music Died RIP

The Government, The Musicians Union and their suspicioulsy conceived Forum are all still missing the point. It is not just music as in the sounds that emerge from loudspeakers that is important. But sounds from real musicians playing real musical instruments and creating something together, like real drums moving real amounts of air. And the vibes and feelings that are generated by someone who is passionate and dedicated about what they are doing.

Nobody here is saying that music generated by one person and a plethora of hi tec equipment or software is not relevant. But it is becoming the only form of music available to people on the high Street, with the possible exception to the fringe issue of Heavy metal bands in Ye Olde Rock Pub.

Funds for real Dances and gigs in pubs have been diminishing since the early seventies and the first instrument to go was the drums, from the early eighties, when it became possible to sequence drum parts and generate a consistent although lifeless beat using a drum machine.

Gradually solo and duo acts were able to dominate local pub scenes, sometimes replacing drum, keyboards and bass parts with increasingly sophisticated sequencers. Could this be one reason why the army of council officials successfully lobied for the 'two in a bar' law to be scrapped.

(Comment about Ministers useless comment on White Stripes etc.)

Since the Licensing laws were changed in 2003, finally in place 2005, many of these succesful duos have had to call it a day because their old stomping grounds can no longer feature live music on a weekly basis and it has become impossible for them to sustain a living.

Now duos may not be everybody's cup of tea, and certainly not mine, but, the sound of real music even played by 'duo' musicians ringing out on a high street on a Friday and Saturday added something to the atmosphere of a town or village and, we maintain, spread a little harmony about our world. A quality band might even gather a small group of peaceful teenagers on the pavement, enjoying themselves in a harmless yet still socially creative fashion. Almost daily we see reports of youth violence cause by young people on the streets with nothing to do but drink alcohol which is has become even more freely available as aresult of the legislation, often 24 hours a day.

In 2006 the must have music production facility is Ableton Live which merely allows the operator to mix up different tracks of pre-recorded audio files and the only talent neccessary is a listening skill to judge the taset of what two tunes should go next to each other.

Paradoxically these rigs often invite a percussionist, to sit in and jam along in order to facilitate a bit of reality, as far as the liveness goes.

So where is the live music. At a few dedicated venues which all too often centre on Metal and Indie Thrash bands as their staple diet. If somebody spends twelve years or longer learning to play the piano well enough to entertain, say, a mixed age crowd of a hundred people, they have practically nowhere to perform outside of strictly formalised scenes usually run by the council, or, a Tribute band festival, usually run by the local Round Table.

The recent legislation has introduced so much redtape, paperwork and paranoid security demands that young,or older, entrepreneurs have no incentive and little chance of organising speculative or experimental (ART) live music gigs in their local area (unless they are connected to the Round Table or similar in their neck of the woods). That used to be how art was created and shared. But not any longer. How are we to pass on the more subtle skills that are difficult to describe with words alone.

Phil Little