Class Warfare Blog

May 4, 2020

Now and Then

Filed under: Art,Culture,History — Steve Ruis @ 10:03 am
Tags: ,

I just read an obituary for Tony Allen, the drummer’s drummer and one of the eulogizer’s pointed out that he sought for someone who could play his pieces as Tony had, but that drummer was not yet born, apparently. Musicians who are transformative often prove hard to impossible to replicate.

A little more than a century ago when such a musician died, the best that we could hope for in a musical legacy was sheet music, and of course the effect that musician had on his fellow musicians. But listeners had no way to observe the effect, other than in memory once that musician died.

Before written sheet music, the best we had was that so and so was taught by “him,” you know. “He was a student of . . .” was another way to say the same thing. But there was no way to share that with future generations.

Now, we have sheet music, commentary, video, and audio recordings, autobiographies, etc. so as far as musical immortality, we are much closer to that, but still people bemoan the loss of people who cannot be replaced.

The life lesson is that replicating the past is important, especially is we want to know “where we came from” in a tradition, but what is more important is what we create next. Having just a focus on the past gets to a state of stale rapidly. Taking what was offered and moving up to new highs, now that is a challenge, a challenge Tony Allen met, extraordinarily well. He survives in recordings as an inspiration to all future drummers and musicians.

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