The Tree

Can we chat for just a minute? I think that debating can be good and healthy and foster productive dialogue. However, I think it’s also just as important to understand when it is effectively time to move on because the empirical ideals that we may hold near and dear may simply have changed.

Change… the one thing that is inevitable is change. Even as the picture of the tree standing tall gives the impression of something that never changes we all know that the tree and what it has seen and even how it began its time on earth has changed dramatically. We may not have been here to see it but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen.

So how does all of this relate to music? Well clearly I think we’ve been in the throes of numerous, numerous teachable moments when it comes to putting the development of musical styles, movements, genres whatever label you want to put on a particular type of music.

Often the origins of a particular musical phenomenon are debatable especially musical happenings before the a certain point in time where the documentation could clearly point out the when, where, why, who and how… but honestly is that how anything of note really begins? Do folks sit around a campfire and say to each other that they are going to start a new musical movement? Maybe. But usually the folks making things happen musically are too busy making things happen musically to create a manifesto about their musical movement that’s going to take over the world, that’s usually left up to all the people surrounding the music to do.

Blues, Jazz, Rock, R&B, Soul, Funk, Reggae, Hip Hop, Go-Go, Disco, House and on and on and on and on ’til the yeah… all started somewhere but just like ideas and people they move, they change and the children, grandchildren and so on don’t resemble the progenitors. It’s just a natural fact. Sometimes there are improvements and sometimes it seems like there is a regression to a childlike state after some of these movements have seen their golden eras.

So debates rage on about what’s real and what’s not real and how it’s important to pay homage to this city or that but all things considered equal when was the last time someone paid homage to New Orleans and Parts of the Mississippi Delta because everything and I mean everything comes from the Blues. Later in the Jazz Age remember that whole New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, New York beef thingy? Me either.

The point is we all start somewhere, some choose to stay home and others decide to move and branch out(change) and as time moves on further and further and further the changes keep occurring. Many are resistant to change which is I can understand and sometimes that is reflected in when you drop by Big Mama’s and she still has the same furniture including that TV because she wants to, she doesn’t want to change. That’s fine and what’s important is that the children respect Big Mama’s decision not to change but are also allowed to make their own decisions about how they want to live and make their music. Just make it good.

So the challenge that I would like to issue is instead of sitting around debating who did this or that or where you’re from or where you’re at let’s just let the debate center around the only criteria that matters: Is the music great?

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.