Thursday, January 28, 2010

100 Days of Practice Round 3 Day 5: Innovation and Tradition Revisited

Some of the ideas I expressed on Day 91, "Tradition and Innovation" have been keeping me awake at night. Mind if I clarify a few things?

First and foremost, I hope it’s clear that the characterization of Comhaltas as “uptight” is not an opinion that I hold, but one that I have heard many other musicians express, in my travels in more trips to Ireland than I can count over the last nineteen years. Let me add that if you read behind the lines (which I tend to do all the time) it generally seems that the Irish musicians that I have heard speak out most vehemently against Comhaltas were not against it because of what it stands for, but rather because it appeared that they’d been rejected by it or snubbed by it at one point or another . . . or simply that they've felt limited by its definition of "tradition."

Comhaltas serves many important purposes and one of them is that it is the sole body in charge of making sure that the tradition is preserved—a role that becomes more important every day in our continually shrinking world. Without the right wing, there’d be no left wing, right? Frankly, this is a subject that’s too big and too deep for me to want to wade further into, mostly because it offers no promise of satisfactory conclusion. And it's just too darn contentious.

But truly, is a conclusion all that important? I suppose what is most important here is that musicians remain true to themselves in whatever it is that they want to create—neither rejecting their inheritance nor pretending that it’s any different than exactly what it is—no matter what it is.

Second, I apologize if that friend of which I spoke on day 91 made it seem like all local musicians are uptight. They’re absolutely not; perhaps she was being a little, um . . . hyperbolic that day. There is a ton of fun being had in sessions from Gloucester to Boston to Cape Cod. And, on the other hand, there are people who are so serious that it’s scary. You can choose to notice either of those groups, or neither. Hey, I can’t help it. My glass isn’t half full every day.

Oh, and I’m sorry too for the bathroom humor. But speaking of owning up to your inheritance: You can take the girl out of the truck, but you can never take the truck out of the . . . oh, never mind.

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