In the closing days of 2008, my first issue of my shiny new Sound On Sound subscription arrived in the mail. Laying about here on New Year's Day I set to reading it and one of the things that caught my eye was the Sounding Off column on the last page.
The author, Mark Wherry, is responding to an interview in The Guardian with none other than John Adams. Apparently, the composer laments that music is too easy to make and has given rise to a flood of mediocre music. Mark takes small issue with Adams as do I.
As a single creator of "mediocre music", I don't really have an argument aside from taking some kind of personal offence. But as part of a larger community of such artists I have to observe some things that might not be apparent to a casual listener of the output.
My main point is that making music, as a side effect, teaches me and those like me how to listen. And that makes me a more informed consumer. That does not mean I'll be be buying more of Speers' or Cyrus' product. It does mean that I'm more likely to be interested in the work of artists producing what Adams calls "contemporary serious music" because I am better able to appreciate their work.
Indeed because of the way the internet has enabled communities of "mediocre musicians" this education grows and becomes motivational fuel for more creation and thus more learning. Kind of a self sustaining reaction.
As an aside... It may be easier to make passable music with current technology but the paths to improvement are always the same. Learn something about music theory. Get lessons on an intrument. Seems to me that if you have the ability to teach then it seems to me that you have the potential to do quite well for yourself; particularly if you can offer something that helps your students understand how to (better) work with their toys. Who knows, we may keep more young players who would have been turned off musical studies by the old ways...
Of course, what do I know. I'm mediocre :-)
Rumours of the death of music are greatly exaggerated... and in fairness to Adams, he finishes the interview saying as much.