Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Confines of theTraditional


I've mentioned on this blog before that I generally like Celtic music. I find, however, that this "traditional" genre is often dominated by "traditional" songs. That is to say, that most experiences that I've had with Celtic music have been in the form of various renditions of old Irish tunes. I'm sure that if I looked hard enough, I would find original works in the Celtic music genre, and I have, but these have been in the minority. And so I started wondering why those genres steeped in tradition, like Celtic, bluegrass, even classical to an extent, seem to be stuck, so to speak,. It seems that the same tunes are played over and over and little innovation, little creative originality is seen in these genres. One definitely doesn't see this in rock, rap, jazz, etc. but when you start listening to Celtic, or classical, people seem to be content to play the same songs that someone wrote a long time ago over, and over and over again.

Perhaps this is how the genres maintain their integrity. I've discussed how the lines between musical styles become blurred and it would seem that as little deviation as possible would result in these different genres remaining separate. Playing the same songs would facilitate this, I suppose, but then I wonder whether the sacrifice of potential is worth it....

You don't run into this with dance, I must note. Dancers seem to be able to keep well within a dance style without repeating the same choreography. "Traditional" French or Russian ballet, hip-hop, clogging, jazz -all types can maintain a degree of "integrity without hindering creative contribution. (then again, on might object to the definition of "integrity" that I employ).

Makes me wonder where these "traditional" styles of music would be if the focus tradition were relaxed just a bit...