Thursday, 16 June 2011

On a musical note

To the British Embassy for the Queen's Birthday Party, one of the highlights of the social year in Warsaw. As usual, excellent food and drink - and this year the weather was kind (no downpours, no heatwaves, no clouds of midges). For me, the best part was the music - provided by the Band of the Polish Air Force. The guys were, to use the Polish expression, do tańca i do różańca (lit. 'to the dance and to the rosary'); they played both national anthems, some stirring patriotic tunes (Maszerują strzelcy)... but then they went on to... swing. Below: the band before they started to seriously get on down.

As brass bands go - this was by far and away the swingiest I've ever come across in Poland! A repertoire that covered the Blues Brothers, Count Basie (Splanky - from the great Atomic Mr Basie album) and Glen Miller, played with great verve, superb arrangements, melodious solos - and the 28-piece band was as tight as the proverbial duck's behind.

Sadly, the set was short and soon after 20:00, the flags were lowered outside the Embassy accompanied by a lone kilted piper. But I shall look out for more gigs by the Polish Air Force band - definitely worth catching again. According to the official programme, the band is based in the 1st Silesian Rocket Air Defence Brigade in Bytom.

Got home to discuss this with Moni, and we began discussing our musical tastes - and to what extent mine have influenced my daughter's. Moni went through all the artists on her 4GB Apple iPod - several hundred of them. Were they her discoveries, or music that I had introduced her to?

The result was 38% were artists that she'd come to learn about from me. A flattering reflection on how an 18 year-old rates her father's tastes in music!

I considered this phenomenon. This figure is lower than it would have been a few years ago, but even so. Great music stands the test of time. Today's music is derivative and lacking innovation. Indeed, I'd go so far as say that nothing really new has happened on the popular music scene since the early 1980s. There isn't that same precipitous watershed between, say, Jimi Hendrix, and what was happening even five years earlier (compare 1967 to 1962), or between, say, the first wave of rock'n'roll in the mid '50s and what was happening just five years before that.

So today's young people (at least those more critical ones) will be far more likely to reach into their parents' music libraries than my generation was to dip into theirs. Glen Miller and Count Basie excepted!

This time last year:

This time four years ago:


Paddy said...

Ah but the question surely must be, "what kind of music is SHE exposing YOU to?" I disagree that nothing has happened since the 80s, tempting though it is to agree initially.

That said, memories for me of long car journeys to visit sites, museums or family are always associated with the Eurythmics, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac etc.

Those songs always put me in a nostalgic time and place. With that in mind, I wonder whether our ability nowadays to consume music in more ways - Ipod, car, on planes, in more and more TV programmes etc. means that we'd be more likely to experience and enjoy our parents' music tastes and to take them for our own?

Anonymous said...

Michael - Introduce Moni to the best guitar player in history (IMHO) Mark Knopfler

There are some excellent videos on YouTube


Unknown said...

Great to see a Polish brass band in action. I have played the euphonium since I was about the size of a euphonium and I sorely miss those days. I have seen folks carrying brass instrument cases around the city a time or two and I keep meaning to muster the courage to ask where and when they play.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Kolin: Poland has a great brass band culture - every village with a voluntary fire brigade (OSP) should have one!

@ Bob: Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins - a great album :)

@ Paddy: What's happened since the '80s that's truly revolutionary?

Paddy said...

Ah well 'tis a matter of taste. I'll do a blog on the music that I've enjoyed since the 90s and maybe you might find a tune you like.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Paddy: There's no shortage of post-'90s tunes I like - it's just that there's not been any new, revolutionary sounds since then. Imagine the shock, for example, for hearing Jimi Hendrix for the first time in 1966, or the Sex Pistols in 1976, or Grandmaster Flash in 1980...

Paddy said...

Well the birth of dance music has been revolutionary and has influenced music as much as the early sounds of hip hop has. Within that genre I can name a few seminal tunes/bands/DJs that could be considered game-changing. Aphex Twins, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers for example.

Lady Gaga...?