I've been saving this from the time I read this article by David Brooks in the New York Times a few weeks ago, itching to get it onto my blog. Brooks talks about the 'classic rock' bands of yore like the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, U2, Springsteen and the E-street band and how they drew upon a range of musical influences (blues, country, soul) and created a unique new music. Unique enough to still be able to fill up stadiums till they burst, anywhere in the world. And this is more than a quarter of a century since this stuff really took off. Their mind boggling success went hand in hand with this 'musical integration'.
And then, he says it all started to change (go wrong?). What started was a fragmentation of music into different styles, moving away from this 'integration' and very soon you had as many genres as you had communities and ethnic identities even. And at the rate its moving, we may soon have a music genre for all of us.
Okay fine.. nothing special huh? But what really opens your eyes and forces you to think deeper are these last lines and the simple truth in it :
We live in an age in which the technological and commercial momentum drives fragmentation. It’s going to be necessary to set up countervailing forces — institutions that span social, class and ethnic lines.
Music used to do this. Not so much anymore.
The Segmented Society - David Brooks (op-ed in the NYT)