An idea that has intrigued me over the years has been," what is the functional role of a musician in this society?". As musicians we tend to be more aware of the music we create or the environments we find ourselves in than what our essential function is.
By function I mean-
* What is my role in this social situation that I find myself ?
* What does the audience expect my music to do for them?
* How narrow are the limits on my actions in my role as a musician?
* How much can I affect the audience without them playing an active role?
* Should I being doing more than just trying to entertain?
* How much of my inner self should I reveal through my music, if any?
* Will they be aware if I change my function from minstrel to high priest?
I believe that a listener can only judge the functional role a musician is playing by the effect that the music has on them directly. The attitude of the musician determines the functional role he/she plays. How the musician see his own function as a musician can determine how much or how little the ego enters into the music. Function can change in the mind of a musician in an instant, and with it the profundity of the musical expression. A musician who believes their function is to create beauty will create music that is very different from a musician who's function is to pick up chicks.
If we look into the musical philosophies of ancient cultures we learn that their musicians were expected to play very different functional roles as modern musicians do. For them the role a musician was closely tied to the roles of the priest, healer, magician and seer. Music was never separated from it's related disciplines- astrology, medicine, mathematical cosmology,
geometry and ceremonial magic. To the ancient mind you could not understand one of these sciences without understanding all of them. In fact Hippocrates, the father of medicine, once stated that a doctor who didn't thoroughly understand astrology could do so much as even diagnose a patient. Music was always the thing that tied all the other sciences together and made them relevant to each other. It was the study of the manifested qualities of the whole numbers, in other words it was the foundation of qualitative mathematics. These qualities of the whole numbers, or integers, were the laws of musical harmony, but they were also the very laws of nature operating in the cosmos, on earth and in the psychological realms of the mind.
These laws of number/music became expressed in the construction of early alphabets, which were numbering systems as well as symbolic language capable of expressing abstract musical concepts. For example in the Hebrew alphabet each letting is a whole number and a whole number ratio, the first expresses it's relationship to the quality of an overtone, the second relates the letter to a musical interval. This is jumping ahead quite a bit, the point I'm trying to make is the general disparity in the way ancient civilizations defined the function of the musician compared to the way our society sees our role.
Consider the ideas that you were taught about the functional role that musicians play. Did you accept these ideas without first questioning them? Have your ideas about your function as a musician changed over time? How narrow or flexible are your ideas about function? How do you think these ideas influence the way you play music?
These ideas that we have about our functional roles can and do affect the music we end up creating, how we feel when we create music, and how people feel when they hear our music.
By making positive changes in our belief structures relating to music we can grow more musically than we could by wood-shedding for years, and the changes take affect in an instant. These changes affect the very nature of our musical expression by changing who it is making the music. Is that a ladies man playing Stella or a the high-priest of the sun?
Ok, Ok I'll go back to talking about how to play over two-fives............