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My Experience with Music, Life, and discussion on Needs and Satisfiers

This article is to express something that may expose something that may be unnoticed about the arts and specifically music. There is a perception that music is something that is enjoyable, compared to some other profession that may not be. We have been groomed to be dissatisfied by a consumer society, where the game is that you have to buy something from someone else to be happy. There is the separation of “work” and “play” in terms of a perception of awareness. I also want to introduce the language of needs and satisfiers, so as to create a new understanding of our life, and its efficiency concerning happiness and fulfilment. Our aspirations as a part of the Zeitgeist Movement and it’s goal toward the Resourced Based Economy, there should be a connection with improving the efficiency and output of everything. As I am a musician and have worked hard at my craft for 30 years and I can reflect on that and its relevance to a new way of thinking.


To preface my life experience, I spent eight years in my 20’s living in a yoga-inspired community, which was self sufficient in its living system with about 80 to 150 similarly focused people with a collaborative mindset. Within the group there was no thought of money, and we adhered to an awareness of the self and and what each had to give. People came and went, and I stayed for as long as it took to be completely happy with myself not to want to be motivated by escape but rather to move toward progress. This gives me an excellent understanding of living without money, and have had that consciousness for now 40 years. Imagine how I felt when someone finally put a moneyless society on the table. It felt like a quantum shift in humanity. (I know there is still a long way to go) From the point where I decided to follow the path of music to now I have lived my truth, without the thought for material accumulation which is substituted with self actualisation and mastery.


I see the wisdom of engaging art and our skill as living beings. One can spend a lifetime building on a skill that creates a unique contribution different than any other who has not attempted that skill. This has to do with overcoming obstacles, and using the plasticity of the brain to solve problems. The main achievement of these skills is in the moment, and the reproduction of them in any other moment, but also unique to that moment. This is very inspiring and the pleasure it gives the receivers also fuels the artist, thus it is a mutually beneficial process. The receivers become inspired and the performers have the incentive to improve. We can now start to think of the relationship of needs and satisfiers, and relate that to the arts, because there it covers a multitude of satisfiers, it then truly becomes a synergistic satisfier.


I would like to extend this now to all other professions, and hope to see a reversal, where there is an expectation when someone is expected to perform some occupation for someone else. There are two choices in life, to do what you enjoy or to enjoy what you do. The reality distortion that happens to the average worker is that they live in a competition based system, where if it appears that you are enjoying what you do, then it is unlikely that you will make money. The tendency is for someone to not want to work or pretend that it is uncomfortable or unpleasant, so then there is a bargaining tool to charge more. To enjoy what you do and say nothing allows you to be exploited, for the more you do the more that will be expected from you. This is my experience and I learned it when was very young, being a high achiever. In one job I did the task that was previously done by 6 people (as I got more efficient co-workers resigned), and I was not offered 6 times the wage, but ostracised for not being punctual.


True musicians have always been separate from the workings of money market and its games, for the good musicians you usually find in obscure basement cafes or private concerts. There are the exceptional ones who are exploited and become the elite, but they are grossly overworked, or they compromise their effort in some way which often stultifies their progress. So there is the vast majority of musicians, struggling to manage a totally deregulated industry. The only ones to survive are the ones who really love what they do.


The arts are rarely backed by actual support in todays reality, and people are engaged in many singular satisfiers, some Inhibiting satisfiers, and many pseudo satisfiers. We have a money system that tries to trick people into thinking they are getting something that is either insufficient or absent altogether. I used to deal with arts funded bodies who could do nothing for individuals and most of their effort was to maintain their funding, which merely required them to write reports. However more importantly the purpose of this article is to show how the arts reflects reality in the compromise of quality to superficial values such as fashion. This is the same pressure that retards the actual application of known science in favour of profit and the protection of market perception.


I see a symptom of failing in our social system being mirrored in the arts. The lack of attention to detail in the intricacies of our lives i.e. the inefficiency of economics, the purposeful withholding in efficiency and the inbuilt redundancies manifesting incredible waste and destruction, is a symptom of not perfecting a living being as an efficient life being. This is a symptom of the preference to have uneducated people (because uneducated people are gullible consumers), thereby causing an over-burden of the effects of all social problems. Similarly, popular music depends on quantity not quality, and the focus is on individual as stars to the exclusion of all those equally (and often more) competent. I rarely find any discussion about music that has anything to do with actually playing music at all. Parallel to that there are market forces creating a restriction to actual advancements (that might make things more efficient – maintaining scarcity) but suppressed which is motivated by a profit system. Then there are musicians who can’t compete with those market forces and do not have the resources to improve themselves as a musician, either give up or have to be satisfied with limited skill or knowledge.


So when recording music started, it was originally sold as a mechanism to promote the performer. This became very quickly hijacked by its ability to generate money, which meant that the people who ended up making the money were not the musicians. Naturally the (real) musician’s focus is their art. Then you look at the underlying forces generated by the competitive market system which requires anyone to minimise effort to and maximise money generated, which requires automation. Notice the move from that point from the performer to “the music”, and that is what they were selling. All forms of fashion were generated, and catchy little tunes, and thus the birth of pop music. It is necessary to trivialise the effort that anyone puts into anything because that concentrates profits to the experts of profit-making. It was necessary to create a system of copyright (in the guise of protecting the performer), but the profit-experts knew they could easily gain ultimate control.


Instead of music being a celebration of human achievement and possibilities, it became another product for sale. There was then a homogenisation of what worked, to the exclusion of personal expression. Something that was a synergistic satisfier was reduced to a singular satisfier, that is music only for listening. In the case of music in public places being recorded, then it is an inhibiting satisfier by displacing anyone who wanted to play music. When there was no money allocated for performers, individuals would make their musical accomplices redundant by using recorded and technical options. The substance was slowly drained out of what used to be the virtuosity of skill. Idolisation was the goal rather than the substance of the performance.


The competition mentality hit the music industry. As product quality reduces in a race to the bottom, so did the quality of music. Everyone wants to be the pop star. The adulation takes precedence to the skill which has been surpassed by style or looks. Gyrations then mean more than profound phrasing or intricate rhythm. Anti-intellectualism hijacked the tall poppy syndrome which was supposed to keep everybody equal to prevent up-start-ism, dominance, aggression, and egoism. Another casualty in this is the alternative indie music industry, when instead of making something better, they copyright a simple tune in order to profit from anyone who tries to resemble it. Typically those musicians really use the same tunes but just write different words. The harmonic and rhythmical possibilities are severely limited by an odd perception of themselves that they can be proud of what they do not know, which seems to be another symptom of the dumbing down.


Notice that in the past, before recording, a performers copyright was their ability to play. This was made redundant by the recording. They (the profit makers) do not want anything that is exclusive to anyone or any moment (except if it by is the profit makers), it has to be reproducible to maximise profit, and people have to tire of it so that more can be sold. What happened in past times was the musicians would perform incredible feats of virtuosity to gain the competitive edge just to survive. This virtuosity was generated through a lot of hard work, and after a certain level of accomplishment the progress is self generated through the focus and passion. When one gets to a certain level of achievement doors open to more possibilities with knowledge and experience not available to someone who is untrained. So I am suggesting that the automation was applied to music, for profit reasons, and so detrimental to the need for people to find fulfilment in meaningful occupation. So I do not recognise the playing of music by technicians, because they are not actually playing it. This is the ultimate replacement of the performer by a machine, and then it is not the person it is the sound. This then becomes an inhibiting satisfier because the technical skills can also be spent on actually playing an instrument, where peoples physical limitations actually give the music its special and unique character


Another casualty of automation is the absolute power of the skilful performance which is in fact a mutually beneficial and mutually engaging activity. The focus of the listener creates the quality of the performance, especially when the music is technically demanding. It is the same for any focused community gathering where there is group celebrating life. So in reference to needs and satisfiers, consider two possible inhibiting satisfiers in play here. One is the amplification of the sound, which one could speculate is symptomatic of an inability to listen, and the other is the relegation of music to the ad-infinitum dross of the background. So you see the two forces working against the actual implementation of putting value on the arts (specifically music) which is the spectator syndrome called entertainment. This is a part of the extensive network of white noise which is responsible for trivialising human effort, including the theft of music for advertising. It makes no sense to automate something that someone wants to do. They will never be satisfied, because they are in control of the on-off switch. This empty space is often filled with self-medication, and neurosis. The inhibiting factor is the mutual benefit, which has been hijacked to make it one sided, and not inclusive. One of the main observations that I have made is that music in public places displaces those who want to play. Playing music satisfies many of the basic needs and one is the need for meaningful livelihood. It also includes the need for social acceptance and recognition, where one can apply effort to improve oneself and then give of oneself to the benefit to others.


The main point here is that for someone who wants to be a computer technician, their technical skills would be better spent on science or engineering, instead of making musicians redundant. The virtual musician is misusing the use of technology. The effort spent on learning technology could have been spent on getting the motor skills to be a virtuosic musician. It is the virtuosic (not the virtual) musician that understands what it means to play music, and that is what has created the masterpieces. The computer technician cannot know that, it is like the difference between knowing something and actually experiencing it. This is where techno-music is lacking. It is not just motor skills it is knowledge of theory, and instrument efficiency. Most of all it is the mastery of the living being. However there are virtuosic musicians who experiment with techno-music, and you would know the difference. The techno music by those unskilled as a musician tends to be collections of noises, and I can just go outside, or to a forrest, or a factory and listen to those. (I used to operate an offset printing press with interesting rhythms) Are they really conditioning people to be factory workers?. Well that is almost totally redundant now with whole factories being automated. What is the point of watching reality TV, why not just go outside?


I think that it is a good thing to use minimum effort, however there must be an output, which when one learns this as a musician, they find the secret to performing the impossible. This can be extended to all craft and professional endeavour. In a RBE we will refine this process and all people will have the same inspiration and motivation as the virtuosic musician does, because the virtuosic musician only gets there when they forgo any thought of money. Unfortunately for some famous performers in the monitory system when they became famous, they stopped learning. There is a story of John Williams (the famous classical guitarist) when a teenager he was already exceptional as a performer, and Andre Segovia (his teacher) wanted to put him in the world guitar competition and would assure that he would win. This created a split between John Williams’ father and Andre Segovia, where his father wanted him to finish his studies first. Celebrity for a child in a monitory system is disastrous. Music as with any profession has its tedium. Imagine the world no loner motivated by money where one is free to explore the infinite possibilities of ones imagination and passion. At that point the reality distortion of avoiding enjoyment for fear of exploitation is released and reversed. We will then be seeing what needs to be done, considering what people enjoy doing, and fitting that into what needs to be done.


One thing I have noticed with (some) listeners, is that they refuse to enjoy something if it is “perfect”. They have been trained to expect perfection because all imperfections are removed artificially in the recording process. There is not the recognition for instrumental music, and unless someone is singing it does not get the attention. With an instrument like a trumpet it can take hundreds of “takes” to get a high note to sound nice. This is not noticed in real time because people do not have focused attention and so do not notice. In real life the bad note is accidental and the energy of the moment can create better notes that cannot be reproduced in the artificial situation of a studio. Ultimately everything that one knows is built upon what they have actually done, and it is all muscle memory. To increase your possibilities one has to practice different interval combinations at random. A musician has to have two overlaying perspectives in any moment, what is actually being played, and the technical knowledge of what it takes to play it. I have specifically concentrated on instrumental music, because it encourages open listening unbiased by the mental activity associated with cognising words.


So I continue to perform on the streets, where I do what I want to do, when and for how long I want to do it. I perform totally free of charge and expectation (after extensive training) to a mostly sober audience. My reward is being able to play the music that I want to play. I do it in a hostile situation to the best of my ability. I do not have to compete with anyone, and if someone else turns up and insists on wanting to perform I go elsewhere. I understand that if I get used to that performing situation that it is different to having a focused audience and to do that, I would have to start again. This is is a default situation the alternative being not to play music for a living. I imaging my role in a Resourced based economy that there would be a place I could play where it is celebrated and have a place to live as well. The current paradigm allows me to make sufficient to remain on the road, but not enough to live anywhere which would require twice my present income, as well as having to compete with all the local musicians (which I refuse to do). However I have become a debt slave (figuratively not actually) where I have to put in long hours of performance and there is not sufficient time to add to my skills as I would like as recovery is required, and as I get older, it becomes more severe. It is not easy living as if it were a Resourced Based Economy, the casualty is the resources.


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