by Riccardo Massari Spiritini (bandleader of Tarkampa)
Considering how things are going in showbiz around, here in Barcelona and in many shopping-tourism-oriented western urban contexts, music and the arts should not be entertainments and consumable products so far, therefore they should not be reduced to mere things/happenings you might eventually “consume” and pay for. As a starting point music must exist like the chant of the birds. Music must be a free and spontaneous expression which establish a communication with the organic world that surround us, and with the living beings. In this way it could remind us that a different form of human relationship, a different form of exchange, a different form of life is possible for the future.
First of all we make music, almost like the birds sing, because we just feel like doing it, without any specifically added objective, like social and economic or even political recognition for instance. We make music for the pleasure of producing sounds, project their vibrations into the air, in a physical space, in an eventually transmitted form (radio, digital signal), sometimes endorsed with poetic texts, or text that speak about our experiences in this world. And finally, we play to share these sounds with the others.
Obviously any action done in a specific context or in multiple and technically consequent contexts (digitized, transmitted and/or reproduced different in time and space), may take an ulterior meaning. It is a basic and unquestionable principle. Anyway sacred and/or spontaneous music develop out of any strictly historic mundane circumstances, it takes form in a specific time and space context (civility) and after it probably get submitted to categories, often limited by historical and political visions. The demonstration of this is the very existence of many artworks that transcend time and geography, ’cause they represent basic and essential aspects of human presence and relationship with life on planet earth. Art in general can not be universal, like many (Europeans) believed in the past, but it can reach universal values, sometimes even unpredictably.
This is one of the reasons why in some problematic periods of the recent or less recent past of our culture, certain forms of primitivism came back to the surface, and fascinate the artists, not in a superficial way (like in today’s violently market-oriented culture), but really as a call back to the essential relationship with things and life experience. Artists like Klee, or the sculptor Calder, just to mention some art-icons, incorporate this kind of feeling in their works. On the music/sound side we have Harry Partch, with his original instruments, among others. This authentic and visceral attitude is possible only in the arts that are not primarily or directly oriented to the market. Generally speaking today the distance between the public and the artist is not mediated by someone who “takes” or “discovers” the work. Almost everyone (who grew up with education in a mid-class or upper-class sector of the first world society) is a freelancer and auto-promote his/her work, with the dream of becoming a trendy and famous artist and entrepreneur. This makes a big difference. Warhol was perhaps the father of these generations. On the other side our societies experimented the gradual lost of the sacred. The materialistic life that the post-colonialists capitalism and liberalism made real after the Second World War, was signing the end of any collective spiritual and sacred possibilities. The only massive exception is represented by the half-authentic, half-original, western Buddhist wave, started in the fifties, and continuing till the present times; something possible only in prospective of the in fieri globalizing process of then.
In spite of all this, for more and more people, even during the music boom of the sixties/seventies when thousand of records where printed out, a certain spiritual sound-space was represented by classical music (sacred or not, like Chamber Music for example), that was available on a large scale, even until the end of the nineties if we think about the commercial phenomenon of the Early Music discographies. Parallel to this phenomenon, and somehow cause-related to it (tiredness of industrial electric and mechanical sounds, search of some kind of ancestral feeling and beauty etc.) we should mention the boom of the so called World Music production (“world” seems here to stay for “what is not inside here in the first world”, somehow a racist or exclusive term). Also this music like any others that find a box in a store, represent a classy status, a decoration, an entertainment, at least for the most superficial people. Nevertheless these records had a great power of influence. In the best cases, some of this music projects had the power to reconnect the public to archaic semblances. Not really something original but something like to step into the amazing Museum of Natural History of New York, with this XVII/XIX Century encyclopedic/colonialist flavor, but still a type of positive experience that can take someone to the wish of learning more and find a different relation with the world.
At that time video-games where still very primitive and electronic, and the pseudo-organic video-games experience (role games) came out when finally the computer developed into a second level of sophistication in the late nineties. Same to say for the internet environment that in the nineties was very crude and primitive. The possibility to fly far with your fantasy was still depending on old cinema and novels, and , here we go, on the even older media: SOUND. So these music experiences, that could take you to another time (Early Music), or to another space (World Music), covered an amazing role for almost a couple of decades. A side effect in those years was the massive braking-in of ethnic sounds in many music projects, starting with the ex-rocker Peter Gabriel and continued by many many others. In the pop area sounds where very different and quite variable all the time, compared to nowadays. Then thing changed. Now you can try to stay in the trend, but if you sing like a bird probably you are far out. Come over to our tree!