Reflections on Art and Life
Several years ago I was in need of some mindless decompression and so I went to the movie theater to see a popular at that time chick flick The Devil Wears Prada. Perhaps the Prada story itself could serve as a topic for another post, but for now I would like to focus on a commercial I saw before the movie.
It was the standard run of the mill immediately before the featured presentation; “fasten your seat belts, turn off your cell phones”, etc. Of course, in the theater business, no time should be wasted without product placement, so even this short predictable intro was sponsored. And the product, you guessed it from the enclosed image, was Coca-Cola.
The Coke was performing acrobatics on the screen; it was taking a ride in a roller coaster. It was spilling, bubbling, and enticing everything in its path. My fellow movie goers were already licking their buttery fingers and loosening their belts, completely oblivious to the excitement (although the subconscious, no doubt, was being methodically programmed). I was unimpressed (I don’t even drink soft drinks), but I was paying attention.
The background music completely captivated me. The instruments used in the jingle were quite contemporary; electric guitar, keyboard pads, drums, the works, but the composition, the way in which the instrumentation was woven, ah, it was a classical masterpiece, a work of art.
The first thought that came to my mind was “whoever wrote this must have studied Counterpoint”. The proportions, the pacing, the polyphony of this aural experience could not be explained in any other way. And then, sadly, I realized that I was probably the only person in the theater to even notice this beautiful composition.
My thoughts drifted as I was trying to imagine who the composer might be. Perhaps an intern who graduated from a conservatory several years ago, dreaming of professional film scoring, still struggling to break into the industry, slaving away at copying other (less talented) people’s music. Perhaps happy to have the opportunity to write something that will be heard by millions of people.
Perhaps an old pro who has done many similar jobs in the past, needing this one to pay for the mortgage, or braces for a child, bored with writing for subjects he/she did not care about, after giving up hope for an epic blockbuster, or an independent high quality drama.
Nameless, faceless, invisible. Wherever you are, whoever you are, I recognize your talent and I tip my hat to you.
I recall this experience as I consider the role of music in our society and the societies that have gone before us. I was raised with a great respect for the arts. In my understanding music was always linked with spirituality and with the sacred, even if it was written for “secular” purposes. I’m not sure I am ready to let go of this ideal, but the more I learn the craft of music business and music composition, the more I fear that my infatuation with music is in danger.
Perhaps making music is like making love. When you do it for money it ceases to be love and becomes something else…
©2008 Dosia McKay