April 16, 2012

Beatles to Bassnectar—The (De)Evolution of Music. Really? ~ Lindsay Friedman


Beatles to Bassnectar––The (De)Evolution of Music. That was the name of a panel I attended last week at the Conference on World Affairs, which was held at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The intriguing title compelled me to see why two music groups and genres that I love so much could be compared in such a way. How could a new and different form of music, Bassnectar’s booty bouncin’ dubstep, be contributing to the de-revolution of music? Or, how can we say a more traditional form of music, from the British pop band, The Beatles, be what we compare all pioneering musicians and genres to? Remember that when the Beatles hit the scene, their music represented their ever changing styles, beliefs, messages and causes. Was that a de-evolution of music or did it lead us to where we are now?

Here is a quote to consider: “Those who criticize our generation seem to forget who raised it.” –– This is not a quote about music, but lets remember that for something to be, it has had to evolved from a previous source.

So why this criticism?

I love music and the soundtrack of my life would certainly an interesting one.  I love almost everything from classic rock, to instrumental, to house music. I love concerts and music festivals. I especially love turning my radio up and rolling the windows down when I hit the streets. I grew up guessing the names of rock bands on the radio, like The Rolling Stones and Jackson Browne. I grew up playing bass guitar, classical guitar, clarinet, piano and even singing in my high school choir.



I grew up going to concerts with my parents, like the Temptations, The Steve Miller Band and Donna Summer––I even saw Paul McCartney in 2005 with my Dad. I have a special appreciation for talented individuals who are required to create and perform music from their vocal cords and fast moving fingers to the beat of their soul––but I do too have an appreciation for electronic music that has redefined the possibilities of what we consider to be music.

The panel consisted of four musicians. Charlie Bisharat, a violinist who has performed with Aerosmith and in Austin Powers Gold Member. Gooding, a young musician and philanthropist, who has written music for commercials, and for movies such as Walk The Line. David Grusin, a jazz musician. And lastly, Abraham Laboriel, the famous jazz bassist who has written scores for movies such as Ratatoille and Forrest Gump and has worked with Barbara Streisand and Ray Charles.

Upon their arrival, they annouced that they had listened to Bassnectar only just a few hours prior to this conference. Wow. Four talented musicans who have only heard of electronic music and have yet to experience it, are here to tell me why this Bassnectar character is the downfall to all music.

But I was open to their criticism, I mean, these men live and breathe music.

Bassnectar, for those readers who are unfamiliar with the electronic scene sweeping the nation, is a musician who would fit under the category of dubstep/electronic music. Dubstep is a form of electronic music that originated in the UK in the early 2000’s. Artists like Skream, Benga, and Rusko have come from this new musical revolution. I would say Bassnectar has recently became more well known, as electronic music is becoming more mainstream, although he has been around for years.

He is a composer, in a revolutionary sense.  His music commands his followers to forget about their worries and experience life at another level––at least that how he makes me feel. I’ve seen Bassnectar concerts in various states––even mental states. He and his music are an experience. Rememeber the Jimi Hendrix Experience?

Here is a remix of the British pop star, Ellie Goulding’s song, Lights, by Bassnectar.

My friends and I live for live music. It is part of our culture. Every weekend is another concert. But these concerts are more than musicians showcasing their talent on instruments, they are experiences. Do not get me wrong, I love a great rock show, but there is something about the multidimensional character of an electronic show.

It is another language, as Mr. Laboriel, who has the most experience with electronic music, had commented in the panel. His son is a DJ and his other son is a guitarist for Paul McCartney––so we get the best of both worlds. So, its the lights, the sounds, the rollercoaster effect of beats dropping and DJs hyping the crowd. And, its not just one person, or two DJs or two drummers that are the show, there are many people behind the scenes that are now able to showcase their talent. Technicians, light crew and stage design are part of the experience. So how can we say this is the de-evolution of music, when more people are able to showcase their talent in new forms? Music is language, and I believe that some people are having a hard time understanding that.

I can totally understand how a classically trained orchestra member may feel that a person who presses play on their electronic devices, hypes the crowd and maybe turns a few knobs, cannot compare to their work. I can understand how that is the perception by many people, but electronic music is a whole new level of music, because it is not just sampling a riff from Stevie Wonder song and adding some beats. It is also not just sampling famous songs. Yes, many people can go on Garage Band and ad a drum beat to their favorite song, but that is not what musicians like Bassnectar are doing. It takes an unbelievable skill to be able to orchestrate so many sounds and moods into just one song. It is the language of my generation, and just like The Beatles, music is always evolving

My good friend LoBounce from Chicago is an electronic DJ. He spends countless hours in the studio creating his own music, singing on some of his tracks, and opening for musicians like Bassnectar at the House of Blues in Chicago, or Big Gigantic and Dillon Francis. He sings and plays guitar, but because he creates most of his music using technology, the panel seems to discredit what it means to be a musician and the new language of music. I beg to differ with the panel––LoBounce represents revolutionary musical talent.

Here is LoBounce’s original track, Letters From The Sky.

So there you have it. Music is another form of language. As humans, we are perpetually evolving, and so too do the ways we communicate. Maybe some of Bassnectar’s music does not have words like all of The Beatles songs, but maybe the ways in which my body moves and how the songs make me feel is my generation’s new form of expression that must be acknowledged as evolutionary and revolutionary.

If Bassnectar came before Orchestra music, we may think its de-evolutionary to dress up, stay seated and silent at a concert. So let’s be open to the possibilities of music.


Lindsay Friedman is a senior studying environmental science and sustainable development at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is an intern at elephant journal and has a part time job at The Fitter. She is also a leader of a local food campaign on campus called CU Going Local. She is a true Chicagoan turned mountain girl. Follow her on twitter: Laine0315.



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