Modernity v. Tradition

Written by on in India

Namasté, Dear Music Lover,

Certainly I’m not here to push for one or the other, nor to tell anyone but myself how to feel, yet I think of many singers… we struggle with being some specific identity or balance of influences that “places” us in the constellations of singers as one or the other for the most part—yet it’s often been the case that singers want to have a foot in each camp (myself included), maybe even being regarded as “great” in both ‘young’ and ‘old’ genres’ (e.g., classical and pop). So are you mod or trad? What do you think I am? Can we lock this down in a word or two for any artist’s career? For some, surely yes. But surely also not for all of us!

I just want to share with my younger singer friends that I will applaud good music—whatever its stylistic and literary content. The Duke of American Jazz, Duke Ellington said: There are only two kinds of music

Beyond that, it’s not my place to tell you your style, nor yours to tell me mine. Do what you love—or be about the change needed to allow you to reach your goals… loving what you do, and gaining the public recognition that all true singers need.

We’ve looked at some rather lofty concepts here on my blog-site—e.g., the notion of what is the artist’s role in society. I wonder ‘aloud’ how many non-musicians would insist that life is impossible (or at least intolerable) without music and musicians.

Surely some people wouldn’t miss the sound and visual canvases of any inspired artists, however I haven’t met many who are even indifferent to music. Most of my friends (okay, I’m biased by circumstance and I’d assert, by no fault of my own) are literally immersed in creative pursuits!

Creativity is a big part of the human experience and it has become a pervasively important and ever-present part of our lives, nearly from cradle to grave—certainly ever since broadcast music became a thing (in the last century). In ancient traditional cultures, often music is even more omnipresent—from lively food prep music for cooks to dance tunes and even to sad (or in some cultures, happy) funerals.

Again, I’m neither posting this as an  admonition nor for advocacy; it’s strictly FYI. My point is: we the singers are free to align ourselves with any styles or traditions that we like.

Likewise for dancers, painters, architects, and so on. You do you. As a pro vocalist, that either must please your employer or at least yourself (and ideally, every other listener who hears [or viewer who sees] the work).

No pressure, lol. It isn’t so cut and dried anyhow, and there is always room for growth—if by now you haven’t exactly found “your lane” in the marketplace, keep honing your craft and trust me: eventually you’ll arrive.

Feeling a bit untethered to either old or new music? There’s zero shame in being in the category “other” and when one looks clearly at most any artist, the delineation as to which classification they “fit into” is futile to specify, anyway. In other words, you’re fine being exactly who you are—so not to worry, dear music lover.

Pro Tip #1: One scale and warmup after another… followed by show after show. Then repeat!

Pro Tip #2: If you’re an artist, rest for your instrument is part of your job. I learned this the hard way (from near exhaustion). Don’t constantly short yourself on sleep time, or your awake time won’t be fully awake, and that could hold you back. The human voice is a fairly resilient thing, but know this also: your voice needs rest, too. Believe it.

I’m not saying drink or take pills to sleep. Just take time. Word. (When you have time, obviously. If you fall behind on rest, you can catch up, but not for chronic loss. Naps are part of my skill set, lol. Sometimes that quick power-breathing & napping routine can bring me back to my usual self, even after a night of rigorous vocals tracking.) Lastly…

When your body is your instrument, how you treat it is a key to success!

Pro Tip #3: Don’t blend in. Just be yourself.

You deserve respect as a being no matter how great or bad you are.

Others are already being themselves, so [past playacting], trying to be someone you aren’t is destined to fail. Don’t fail. Succeed!

Namasté, AM


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