Scenester Paradiso

saraswatiBeing a musician is an interesting occupation. Traditionally, musicians subsist off of the crumbs of the aristocracy. That is, musicians are funded or conscripted by upper-crust charity. At least this is the traditional role of the artist beyond that of local or folk hobbyist.

Defining a musician is difficult, because anyone who plays music or writes a song can be considered a musician now. But it used to be hard to get access to instruments. Anyway, I’ve heard it said that you are what you produce in society, not what you consume. But if everyone who buys instruments plays music, does that make everyone with an instrument a musician? It’s hard to tell. I guess there’s a gradient, but I would have to say:

you do what you love –> you love playing music –> musician

For me there was never a phase where I thought, “I love music! I think I will try to play it.” Rather, I always have had constant musical ideas in my head since as far back as I can remember. And then I played Castlevania II and Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man 3 and my mind was permanently distorted pretty badly. But for a long time I had problems learning to socialize with musicians on a mutually supportive basis.

Films and stories about self-destructive individuals who refuse to play by society’s rules — they’re so romantic! I can relate; I have not been known to easily compromise. And besides, who wouldn’t like to throw their cares to wind? Who wouldn’t like to say what they think, living beyond the politically correct standards of social communion? We talk about people becoming sellouts as they age, but really everyone is simply forced to learn basic social skills and the values of networking in order to survive (or become somewhat successful). It’s interesting how that works — how people become civil because they have to network with each other to survive. Not because they like each other, but because they may possibly need each other one day.

In this context, what is a music scene? Basically a music scene is a social network or safety net of individuals locally linked via stylistic musical endeavors. All scenes sort of work the same way, right? They’re communal connections which, via mutual endorsement, create a legitimate sphere of culture and public recognition. I see music, art and cultural scenes as being somewhat similar to fraternities and sororities — they’re social circles which enable connections and camaraderie amongst those who are loyal to its cause. Not a bad thing to have, really. Except scenes function differently in that they are not exclusive and do not explicitly require hazing (there is no protocol, in other words).

However, necessary to infiltrate a scene are character traits like musical dependability, social persistence and reliable social camaraderie. One cannot simply become a member of a scene by being friends with people or playing music. One has to consistently be present for these reasons, and prove oneself “loyal” to the “cause” (whatever those are, and I seriously don’t know what they would be!).

But you know, then I come around to the same conundrum as with musicians: is a member of the music scene an actual musician or is it merely someone who is deeply involved with the scene in terms of organizing and so forth? And what about people who are merely prevalent as spectators? Fascinating ruminations, but ultimately empty of answers. Like everything.

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on January 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “Scenester Paradiso”

  1. Well, I like the communal back-scratching these days. I used to think that the only thing that made a musician was writing a good song/ playing a good song. I have found, though, that it’s a lifestyle choice. You help out other bands and they’ll help you out. It’s then, up to the audience to decide what’s good and what ain’t. Apparently, comedians have a code in which they NEVER shit talk on other people’s acts. If yr in a playing/touring band, you almost can no longer be a fan…you have to be in the community. Not a bad thing.

  2. “But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” -Orwell, 1984

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