The other day I got the feeling that I understood just what it must been like to hear the Rite of Spring for the very first time, even if only for a few minutes. I was following up musicians names via the links page of an up and coming saxophonist. What was most interesting was the amount of 'naive' musicians that I came across. Naive music is for me a type of music that pertains to be something intellectually highbrow and often rather apart from popular culture (*). The music is often of an improvised nature enabling the musician to play very simple (almost childlike) melodies or sounds, together with other musicians working in the same direction.
What is a naive (**) musician you may ask? Like naive painters, naive music have been developing in different styles over the past 30 years or so, in part due to the digital revolution and the use of various electronics. One of the earliest 'modern' examples I think of is Brian Eno. Eno came out of the shadow of Roxy Music as someone who manipulated sound, with (in those days) simple synthesizers and various keyboards. What (for me) makes Eno a naive musician is his very simple approach to music, but one should add, an often complex concept or project. Albums such as No Pussyfooting (***), Discreet Music, Music For Airports, etc, showed the way that Eno could work in an almost 'art school' way, taking a simple concept and developing it.
Of course the music itself (or the concept) is very structered, but the music is often almost simplistic. Of course Ornette Coleman showed how it was possible to work with non musicians and still produce music on Empty Foxhole (and later Ornette at 12). This was an album made with his son aged 10 who had been learning the drums for 2 years. Ornette showed how Denardo (his son) played without pre-judged ideas, due to his young age and of course 'limited' technique. This was an interesting decision to make, especially when taking into account drummers such as Billy Higgins and Ed Blackwell whom Ornette had worked with previously. But how does this relate to more recent developments in jazz and improvised music and of course why does this remind me of the Rite of Spring and the reaction the general public took to this music? As I mentioned earlier much of the music I found that was linked with the website of ..... was often very naive and simplistic. In some cases I knew/know the musicians/people personally and know that these people are almost unable to play their instruments - in the traditional sense of the word. What's more interesting is the fact that many of these groups are made up of very high grade musicians and (almost) non musicians. What's also fascinating is that some of these groups are able to play worldwide, in festivals and clubs alike.
Where is this music (style) taking us?
I'll carry on this 'rant' in The Rite of Spring Pt 2 where I'll try to look at some of the ways in which we seem to have lost, or are losing our ability to listen to and appreciate music for what it is ...... coming shortly!
(*) = Pop and folk music can often be simple, but not naive by intention. However naive music seems to be linked with some folk cultures and improvisation.
(**) = I can think of early exponents of naive musical styles. But often the earlier musicians tended to be classical composers who were interested in fusing styles and boundaries. Their music could be quite sophisticated in a naive way. Examples could include : Moondog, & Harry Partch to name just two examples.
(***) = Fun MySpace review.