No one’s quite sure how it happened, but despite the first hints of winter snow drifting across Centretown, there’s something sizzling in the concert halls and across the airwaves.
Canada now finds itself a frosty hotbed for emerging musical genres, with new artists constantly mixing and mashing styles together in an effort to find the next big thing, something to make the kids go crazy like they used to. But as we start the alchemy-like process of creating new music, let’s not forget the roots behind the toots and what music can mean for the preservation and proliferation of culture, whether Canadian, Aboriginal or otherwise.
We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations in the world, with citizens hailing from a myriad of cultural backgrounds that can be traced back across the world.
When immigrants move their families in search of a different life, one of the first things they bring with them are the songs and sounds of their country; these are bits of culture and history that can never be taken away or forcefully assimilated.
Really, how many Canadians can say they haven’t shed a tear during an incomprehensible Italian opera or laughed while failing miserably to keep up with a crescendoing Greek Zorba? Music has always been an instrumental medium through which people shared their culture with their children before showing it to the outside world.
It is for this reason that the CRTC long ago insisted on minimum Canadian content requirements for radio broadcasters across the country.
What this means is that just over 30 per cent of any music a station plays has to be “Canadian” as defined by a list of requirements based on the brains behind any given tune.
Despite often resulting in a bit too much Nickelback or Justin Bieber during morning commutes, it also ensures that music from within the country gets pushed to the front of the airwaves rather than getting lost in the static of musical influence from down South.
Music has been used since the dawn of time as a means by which we shared stories with one another, huddling around a campfire, hitting a makeshift drum and yelling about a close call with a leopard or some other predator in a tree that morning.
From the first person to tie a gazelle skin tight across a hollow log and give it a whack to innovative instrumentalists such as Stradivarius and Les Paul, every culture has chosen favourite instruments, rhythms and beats they call uniquely their own.
Regardless of individual culture, music has retained the ability to strike a chord within the human emotional spectrum, whether it be fear, love or more along the lines of Beethoven’s echoing Ode to Joy.
Young musicians should be recognizing the writing on the wall and understanding that their hoots and toots come with baggage, whether they realize it or not. Music is the means by which we tell a tale, share a feeling, shake a leg or bust a groove, but it becomes alive when you play in a key that is uniquely your own.
Whether it be folk, pop, blues, jazz or something with a much more international flare, learn your musical roots and play them with heart; if not, you might just lose track of them somewhere in the score.