Musical Ability IS in the DNA: Darn…

A side bar topic really, research indicating that there is a genetic component involved in whether someone is able to master a musical instrument or not. In the tales of Kurt Cobain’s upbringing there’s much emphasis placed on the presence of musical relatives and his acquisition of instruments and ultimately on his meeting with the Melvins and other local punk fans which all leads him toward developing a particular style and approach as well as solidifying his musical direction. Actually, none of that emphasis is invalidated by saying that some of his abilities are innate and nothing to do with the environment in which he found himself. An inbuilt ability is nothing if there’s never an opportunity to exercise it (yes, that’s why the socio-economic divide in education matters; some kids would be just as good as the privileged few but are never given that chance – what a waste), likewise a gift for something will come to naught if not pursued and encouraged. Cobain’s family members encourage him to practice which means he gets better, his new friends point him toward a particular sound, his own self-motivation and satisfaction keep him putting in the hours that ensure his instrumental and vocal abilities are sufficient to get him noticed.

Where the genetic element makes a difference to his tale is simply in allowing him to be more responsive to practice and to musical stimulus. One of Cobain’s greatest traits was that he seems to be able to listen to other facets of the underground music scene and very rapidly cherrypick those styles to incorporate them into his own idiom. The Fecal Matter demo covers most of his nascent influences, the January 23, 1988 session is an entire new world of alternatives and options, he takes less than a year to create something tailored to Sub Pop’s specific sound, then between January and September leaves it behind and lets his power pop influences show for the Blew EP bonus tracks, by April 1990 only Lithium has the Pixies-ish dynamic going but by the end of the year he’s perfected it…His talent for hearing things and knowing how to use them within his own vision is what puts him above a lot of players who perhaps had a more singular sound throughout their career (perhaps altered only by changing the cast of collaborators) but couldn’t match Cobain’s very good ear for what made things new and different.

Just placed this one here because it intrigued me. Essentially the modern age in which money goes to technology firms not to publishers, agents or – god forbid – the majority of writers has its plus side (i.e., yes, the majority of people can now create and upload art, photography, music and writing in a form accessible by others) at the same time as it’s hugely reduced the opportunity for anyone to actually practice a creative skill as a full-time occupation outside of the designated corporate business outlets and career paths. An occasional one-off will rise to the top but basically, as those running technology firms and financial institutions can’t comprehend things that aren’t processes of manufacture with a pre-defined and near-guaranteed outcome, there’s an ongoing effort to convert it into something they do comprehend; delivery mechanisms that systematically undermine the power of any individual creator and derive profit from the agglomeration of a large number of micro-payments from which they take their cut with the majority seeing little fruit from their work…Until they re-enter the standard and approved path.

Oh, and this one is just a glorious example of the wealth of random connections the world possesses – intricate ol’ place isn’t it?


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