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Mac n' Cheese

Remember that old commercial that asked “Is it live or is it Memorex?” Well, there is a whole generation of folks who have never heard contemporary musical artists play anything other than synthesized, computerized, simulated music.

I say “contemporary musical artists” and not “musicians” because while some may indeed exhibit artistry in the field of music, most of them cannot legitimately be called musicians as that term connotes more than a passing familiarity with at least one musical instrument.

So accustomed to manipulated computer-generated beats and laying down multiple tracks in an attempt to create an authentic sound, the vast majority are completely unequipped to recreate those same sounds unaided by technology.

They call outright theft of someone else’s music “sampling” and delude themselves into believing it’s an homage to another’s talent when all they’re doing is demonstrating a startling lack of originality.

Given my conspiracy theory proclivities, I almost suspect that the current deficiencies in musicality find their roots in smoke-filled back rooms full of old, fat, white guys cooking up new and different ways to beat folks out of yet another of our ever-dwindling arsenal of awe-inspiring talents.

Whatever the genesis of this unfortunate decline in musicianship, it is an unfortunate fact that the rote, formulaic approach is heartily encouraged by the music industry and just as eagerly embraced by consumers. And considering the meager skills resulting from this calculated ignorance, it really isn’t surprising that the caliber of music has plunged so dramatically in the last twenty-five years or so.

Imagine a cooking competition where one team of chefs has the benefit of the finest ingredients with which to craft a sumptuous culinary submission; while the other is forced to make do with Mac n’ Cheese, Hamburger Helper, Shake n’ Bake, Manwich sauce and other such food-like substances.

For that is what too many of today’s musical artists are forced by their own ignorance and the Machiavellian forces of the music business to produce. And as an unfortunate result --- for themselves and their listeners --- they are limited in their art to the pre-packaged, mass-produced, music-like offerings that now pass for the real thing.

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