Music as a force for community

This is supposed to be the display image for the video below

Merlin Snider with Pretty Good Acquaintances Goin Down the Road, February 4, 2012
[FMP  width=”320″ height=”180″ align=”aligncenter”][/FMP]

I had to spend this week trying out ways to embed my own video – rather that videos from services like YouTube. I still have not been able to generate an opening frame image, so that there is not just a black video screen sitting there waiting for you to click play. I’m just getting error messages.  Apparently my FFMPEG was not found at /usr/local/bin. Go figure.

I will keep working on that (unless someone proposes to me and asks me to go live on a farm somewhere warm, forsaking technology for an herb garden and home grown tomatoes before I manage to figure it out). And, Merlin, I promise I will get a camera with better sound for next time (this one was just shot with my phone as I cannot be a discrete journalist with my bulky Sony camera; I am currently seeking a discrete camcorder with good sound quality).

Update Nov. 21, 2012

I posted earlier today about the value of public debate, of a public deliberative approach to moving the world forward. A performance like this one by Merlin Snider and friends, on the topic of labor history through labor folk songs, is a perfect example of a presentation ready for public discourse. The performance was accompanied by a multimedia presentation produced by Deborah Snider, providing the audience with a visual history to accompany the music and narrative history.  And a panel and public discussion – debate – to follow it would have been tremendous.

But, sadly, we have evolved music in our society to a form of entertainment only, not of public discourse.

I had to think as I watched and listened to this important history lesson in music, which demanded a great deal of  research, practice and preparation by its performers, how unfortunate it is that our society so undervalues the work of musician-artists that they have only a rare opportunity to perform such a work. That there are so few venues for an important piece like this to be performed. That rather than the public valuing this work enough to demand, and support, regular performances, it is seen as an “act of love” of the performers, and a meaningful memory for a handful of audience members who were blessed enough to experience the one time event.

A musical history event like this is demeaned because we as a nation have evolved our opinion of music to be a form of entertainment, rather than a powerful form of political and historical and creative education that is just as important as any science lesson. Because we have demeaned the act of being an artist by failing to support or encourage it. Yes, this theme will be a recurring one.