Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mediocrtiy In Music

     Listening to the music coming out of the pop scene in Arabic music, I have noticed a lot of mediocre product coming out.  At times I can't tell whether I am listening to a song by Assi Hilani, or Najwa Karam because most of the music coming out today sounds the same.  This tells me that there is a disturbing acceptance of mediocrity in Arabic music.  Not only is this a problem in music but it has become a standard in society were mediocrity is uplifted over excellence.  My intent is not to put down Pop culture music in the Arab world, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed.  As musicians we have a responsibility not only to ourselves but to the listeners and more importantly to music itself.  
     Mediocrity in music is a problem because it waters down its complexity.  This does two things to the listener. First it lowers their standards with respect to quality.   Lets face it, in Arabic Pop culture the music coming out is not the most mind stimulating.  Second, mediocrity "dumbs" down the listener and by doing that removing any expectation of experiencing anything profound in a musical performance.  Not only does mediocrity effect the listener but it effects the musicians as well.  It fosters the idea that true tarab can be achieved with singing repetitive lines about love or whatever meaningless subject they chose.  Arab tarab music is much more complicated than simple repetition.  Just listen to the countless pieces by Abdel Wahab, Riyad Al-Sunbati, Ahmed Fawzy, and Farid El-Atrache, by no means is that music repetitive or simple.  It also effects the musicians by allowing them to take the easy route and play simple pop music.  We all know that in order to perform music at high caliber, IT TAKES WORK!!!!!!!!  I cant even tell you how much music consumes my life, it is very hard work but I do it because I believe in and love music that much.  
     I believe that these problems with mediocrity stem from two reasons.  One of them has to do with television, media, and technology.  Think of it, when I was about four years old, there was no such thing as a cell phone.  We had  rotary phone in the house, the kind you have to spin a wheel and dial the number.  Now home phones virtually don't exist, EVERYONE has a cell phone.  We have gotten used to having everything handed to us quickly and in turn, developing a short attention span.  Arabic music needs an audience to intently listen to whats going on.  This takes a certain amount of attention to detail that most of today's generation does not have.  That is an easy problem to fix, it just takes people to simply SLOW DOWN in life.  The second and much larger problem is the acceptance of mediocrity in society as a whole!  I have no real explanation for this statement other than people have just gotten lazy.  It is apparent in our schools, our workforce, obesity in people, and even in religion.  With all the advances in technology and the prosperity that we have seen in the past two decades (not including the recent financial crisis), we have gotten accustomed to things being easy for us.  To fix this, it requires more work on an individual level that I wont even dare to comment on, but I truly believe that it is an issue that needs to be addressed for reasons that go way beyond music.  
     There is something to be said about music done at a high level.  In Arabic music, you get the full effect of tarab when music is performed at a high level of excellence.  People are smart, and will eventually figure out the difference between junk and something good, but when will that happen?


  1. It's interesting that "slowing down" benefits most everything!

  2. Your blog is amazing and mirrors many of my own opinions on high art, dance, Middle Eastern culture and society as an aggregate. Shukran for writing down your excellent thoughts, I enjoy reading them. Salam, Soraya

    Soraya International
    Entertainment Agency
    Margate, NJ

  3. "There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind ... the only yardstick by which the result should be judged is simply that of how it sounds. If it sounds good it's successful; if it doesn't it has failed."
    - Duke Ellington

  4. Your blog is very useful for me.I really like you post.Thanks for sharing.