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Editorial Musings with Basil Ramsey

Natural selection -- the musical journey

As the world sails steadily into the 21st century it is natural for some of us to look ahead with curiosity about music's future course as a serious art form. There could be an assumption that an age so locked into scientific and space-age exploration will progress largely through its technical research and development.

But there has been similar progress with the arts, although the form it takes is obviously different. Music challenges every listener by its ever-changing style and presentation, making it daunting for some and utterly impossible for others. It is the musically inclined listeners experiencing an alien style that seem to suffer exasperation, as though the presumed shortcoming arises from weakness in the composer's perception.

As I went through this journey when I was much younger, the experience was close to despair as I failed to understand that musical language and its treatment by most composers was constantly evolving. I believe it was the glimpse into an alien territory from the comfort of a world of my own making -- and therefore supposedly secure -- that triggered fear.

One eventually passes through these phases to the point where the lessons are learnt and new territory rolls out for us to explore. This, from experience, often brings the listener to another stage, no less daunting, yet by now partly understood as a step on the way.

This cycle of experience continues and we understand its relevance in the manner by which our musical feelings sprout like a plant and blossom. The process is similar.

Copyright © 7 January 2003 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK



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