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Substance over Style

An article about performing-Arts and music-related topic

By Ralph Schatzki

for La CoffeeMelodie Suite



  • Substance over Style




  • Choose It

    Well, today I'm trying to get some music back in my head. As I become more mature (a euphemism for saying I'm getting older), I find this to be a slightly more difficult task than it was for my younger self. My memory's not as rock solid as it once was - some would say I'm delusional, and that my memory was never too solid to start with...but then, that just proves my point, doesn't it? - and all the nuance that composers put in seemingly just to trip you up is hard to retain. (I know: variety is the spice of life, but why does Mozart have to be so darn hot?)


    In some ways, though, things are easier, now. I'm far more musical, having years more experience under my belt, and I've inevitably picked up a few tricks that serve me well from time to time.


    All this has made me think: Why are more experienced artists cast aside for younger ones? Experience in performance can not be overvalued, yet every day we hear of green performers - and I don't mean envious - replacing established stars. This is a great loss for everyone, not least the public, whose expectations are slowly lowering as a performer with years of artistry is cast aside to the curb in favor of a fresh, young face who barely knows his right from his left.


    In recognizing how I've changed through the years as an artist, I can see where I've improved and where I've declined. I cherish the areas in which I've grown, I bemoan the things that I've lost, and I accept that this is process is inevitable.


    Younger artists, though, are ignorant of this: they only know the now, since they have as yet no significant past experience to think back upon. As such, they are typically brash and confident, if not subtle and experienced. This certainty appeals to many. Unfortunately, this world of ours seems to be much more drawn to confidence, now, than to actual ability: we're becoming more and more an image-based, rather than substance-based, culture.


    Now, image is not a bad thing- it's simply not the only thing. We need to be sure to impress people with substance, and then perhaps they won't think any less of us simply because we've lost our brashness and replaced it with artistry.










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