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Should music be authentic or cleansed?

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Bruce MacGregor Bruce MacGregor | 09:05 UK time, Saturday, 3 March 2012

We are all now very aware of how important social media is today. Only in the last 10 days a councilor got into hot water for calling an MSP a P**** s (whatever could he have meant?!), broken legged rugby players condemned for abusing American presidents and other players withdraw their Twitter accounts because of abuse from fans. Through it all musicians try to punt their material to the world. It's like knocking on a huge door and not really knowing who is on the other side. Friend or foe??

You are probably wondering what this has to do with music but bear with me....

This week I watched a film called Warhorse. I knew nothing about it; the fact it was a children's book and then a stage play made not a jot to me as I sat down to watch. I had been informed just as it started that the critics had enjoyed it and a bet was laid down that I would, within 20 minutes, be in "tears". To be fair this is a fairly safe bet as I have been known to cry during national anthems and even kids films like "CARS".

Anyway the bet was won. I was indeed in tears. However they were cried in laughter so the bet is null and void. Yes? As I lost interest in the film (the first twenty minutes were spent watching in amazement at duff acting, poor acting and generally just poor direction) I started to get irritated. I don't like wasting time.

The film wound me up because it was so "Hollywood". Some of the skyscapes were like something out of a sci-fi film, the music paired with the film didn't seem to have any relevance.

So in a rather scratchy mood I picked up my phone and posted "Warhorse is the worst film I have seen in years. It is abysmal"

Since then the 30 odd comments have varied from support and agreement, to outrage. I was seemingly ignoring the message the film was trying to get across. As the debate flowed from side to side it eventually moved to music. Someone asked how many times has a song lost its message because it has been poorly presented?

A lot of folksong has an impact because the message within is strong. Has this message been diluted in today's music scene because everyone knows that to succeed it has to be "professional" (Hollywoodized)?

One of the underlying themes behind folk music is that everyone can sing and have a voice. But in this age where mass media has "cleansed" music of its rawness is there any room for "authentic" anymore? Who is going to stand up and sing a song then find themselves on Youtube and being ridiculed? How much of what we listen to, even in the folk world, is cleansed and purified to suit the "general public". When everyone is a critic at the touch of a phone how many folk decide they'd rather not stick their neck/voice/musical talent out there?

Anyway these were my thoughts. I've not come to any conclusion as yet but I think it's an important discussion to have. What do you think?


  • Comment number 1.

    I didn't realise Folkies were such delicate creatures. My opinion? If the music is good, people will listen.

    One can appreciate the talent of great Folk singers whilst not necessarily sharing their political views.


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