Column

Bluegrass Rambles

Everything you need to know about bluegrass, whatever that is

Ted is an IBMA-nominated music writer who travels to bluegrass festivals with his wife and picks guitar in as many jams as he can.

Bluegrass Rambles

Everything you need to know about bluegrass, whatever that is

Ted is an IBMA-nominated music writer who travels to bluegrass festivals with his wife and picks guitar in as many jams as he can.

Taking Risks: Nostalgia and Innovation

Hi Ted,

     This reminds me of another article you wrote.

Jim

The following comment was posted on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. Jim Krowka, from Oregon wrote it, and I find it quite moving:

"Nice piece and well written.  It makes me think how much we over complicate thinking about musical style, analyzing it in social contexts, trying to apply or take away labels from music people make when after all.....it's just music and it's either good music...or it's not good music.....to each of us!  Music comes from basic human impulses, to dance, to evoke emotion and spirituality, and it does this through communication.  Bluegrass communicates a unique impulse to dance, to evoke emotion and spirituality through a specific language and style.  Europeans speak English with their own accents, but when speaking English it is still English.  City folk play bluegrass with their own accent and style but it is still bluegrass.  Jazzers play bluegrass with their own accent... is it jazz or bluegrass etc. etc.  Innovation is either another accent or becomes a different language, but the impulses evoked are the same.  Older musics can bring up the emotions of social nostalgia, but they also have unique inherent qualities for communicating the basic impulses of music that transcends social nostalgia for the historic era they were written in.  I'll see you in my dreams, after you've gone, hand me down my walking cane, blue moon of kentucky say things and evoke emotions that are as real and vibrant today for young and old as they were when the songs were written.  Human behavior really does not change, we dance, we love, we feel the same spectrum of emotions and we pray.  And going back into past years there were some absolutely great songs that evoke and communicate emotions in ways that transcends history and time.  Labels are just one of many social/cultural blinders that inhibit people from transcending prejudice and just enjoying what the music is trying to communicate.  Whether listening to Chick Corea and Bela Fleck and the Flecktones or the Carter Family, or Bill Monroe it's all good music....it's the emotions evoked that are the only things that matter, not the labels one attaches to what the heck you want to call the music.