For over six decades, I've had the pleasure of performing (as a piano-player) what is known as "popular music." In that time, my repertoire has grown to several thousand songs. Along the way, I learned many of the songs' lyrics and stories relating to their origins. This wide spectrum of years also made it possible for me to witness, first-hand, the many changes that were affecting this type of music, culminating in its virtual disappearance.
We of the new millennium have been experiencing a vast shift in our sensory perceptions from things aural to things visual . Television has had many effects on us human beings, one of them being the dulling of our Sensitivities, which has resulted in vastly reduced attention spans.
But I want to stick to music here. The great popular songs known as "standards" were written most of the time with their melodies being made up first, after which talented lyricists created words which related, for the most part, to human love and its many permutations.
In my life as a musician, I observed the gradual demise of the element of MELODY, culminating in its virtual disappearance in today's "music." It stands to reason that without good tunes, songs per se have virtually disappeared. This has resulted in some startling consequences, such as the recent decision of the Academy Awards people to make the "best song" category optional. The awards have simply become too embarrassing in that category.
The best decades of popular music are generally regarded as having been the 20s, 30s and 40s. I remember the 50s vividly when rock music made its entrance. Many of the subsequent rock groups (particularly The Beatles) wrote strikingly beautiful tunes, although the Beatles were exceptional in that regard.
So what happened? The unhappy truth is that greed and money made deep inroads into the music business. "Payola," which once seemed scandalous, is now an unhappy fact of life. Personally, I don't think that there is any hope that melodious popular music will ever return, for the reasons stated above.
A song used to be a deliciously effective vehicle for conveying genuine human emotions, such as love, happiness, sadness, and every shade of human feelings.
I spend much time as a performer/entertainer, playing the great songs of those early decades (by the way, the champion producer was the 30s, with a vast array of dearly beloved "standards.") It is profoundly moving to see and hear the effect these beloved songs have on my audiences! Looking at their faces and listening to their remarks, it is obvious to me that they are being "transported" by this glorious music to various times of their lives and all of the joys and sorrows that they contained!
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