Why did human beings start making music? I have seen information suggesting that our earliest forbears made sounds to woo each other for mating, which probably explains why love songs are always in demand. In any case, it seems that we eventually realised we could make symbols with sounds and through the centuries we’ve discovered various ways of being evocative.
It’s a fine thing to have a reputation for being skilled at one’s art or craft. There might have been moments in history when some folks were attracted to the notion of bypassing technique and craftsmanship, because they were regarded as barriers to coherent communication, but those times have passed now and it should be clear to most people that quality of expression is to an extent reliant on refined presentation skills.
Does it matter if an artist’s expression doesn’t travel well across cultures? Some folks like to believe that music is a “universal language”, but the further I travel on my personal creative journey, the more I see distinct variations in the shapes and forms of sounds and the impact they can make on groups of people.
If we are honest with each other, it becomes clear that genres of music can symbolise a vast range of identities within the human race. Most people gravitate towards the sounds that they felt most comfortable with in their formative years. Many adolescents are fiercely assertive about their musical tastes. Those of us who stand outside those allegiances to maintain eclectic tastes are very much in the minority.
Thanks (or no thanks at all) to the record business, a lot of music is valued primarily for the number of units it can shift (sales of tickets and recordings). Perhaps now is as good a time as any to reassess what we need music for.