Wedding Belles And Sonic Smells
Weddings.Evolutionary anthropologists have discovered that publically committed monogamy is was rooted in the concept of property worth protecting. Whether a nice secret fishing hole, a berry patch, a magical tree or a stinking pile of sacred animal skulls was at issue - it became important to know who was who, whom was whose and what kid was due some of that treasure by right of name and blood. This deep need required some form of ritual to be sure everyone knew which people, families and clans were united. And as part of this, the families involved needed to demonstrate their wealth in a collectively display of wealth and generosity.This can get, and often does get, completely out of hand. In parts of Papua New Guinea, some tribes are breaking apart because the required resources for the blow out are bankrupting. A total all inclusive open house party lasting a fortnight or more is an unpleasant prospect even to the rich. In the supposedly civilized West the cost of weddings on average has grown and mutated so big and bling as to be larger than the bill for a decent car, a house, or both.If you needed any more evidence that human social evolution effectively ended long before the invention of pants, here's another dose.Yet music, too, is part of social evolution and one of the only positive outcomes from our need for ritual. One can sensibly assume that the blissful unity of Oongawalicearse and Gruntigruntfart was one of the first reasons our ancestors put rock to rock or stick to gourd, forging the fire of The Beat.So weddings became a superb inspiration and funding source for music and musicians for millennia - empowering everyone from Bach to Basie. And then something happened to pulverise the party, in the foamy Western mainstream at least. Records razored through weddings, leaving shifty remixes of "Carwash" and "We've only just begun" in place of art.Recorded music is why you're reading this.It's why your life is richer and is bitten by the magic of Rat. But recording can create a stale Canon - a basic library of standbys and 'classics' referred to again and again instead of the messy, magical and more expensive creation of fresh culture. This Canon fires itself up your backside even if there is something resembling a singer or a band. These days at most weddings one can expect a botulinum blast of Celine Dion. Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder at his worst and if you're really being steeped in Satan, Robbie Williams. Before an auditory gang rape via Gangnam Style.A music lover winces and minces along, with a forced smile. Focusing on the love and family as they surf over the septic sonics.Of course there are exceptions - we have friends with taste and soul, so the sad scene above is not always the default.Yet in the rest of the world, where live music still lives on in more places stadiums and over-licenced pockets here and there, weddings are a place of sex sweat blood bullets and tears musical vitality beyond imagination.Explore this fine blog, which if you don't already know and feel, sting with shame like a paddle smacked bottom.Awesome Tapes from Africa. At least a third of them have something to do with weddings. Artists improvise on the spot, bringing in names, stories and jokes in a way far more vibrant and eternal than a cringey Western "Best Man's Speech" full of frat party fart anecdotes and 12 rated dick jokes.Improvised venues also force innovation - battered fourth hand laptops and toyshop keyboards are alchemised into new forms. Africa, the Maghreb, Asia and what's left of The Arab world loom largest in the wedding music pantheon.Many of the genres and artists beloved by the worthy and the hip have been created or else kept on life support by weddings. Omar Souleyman, who hopefully is safe given Western indifference to slaughter in his homeland, owes over eighty percent of his recorded output to wedding performances - aided in improvisation by whispers in his ear informing him of another name, or story to weave into his funky Dabke stew. Ethiopian jazz and soulful sounds are also never far from wedding parties in their inception - and can sometimes be heard even in London for the intended purpose.The next time you plan one, have one, or go to one try to push the time backward and the magic forward by remembering what musical majesty is possible at a wedding.If you are a particularly Funky Frenchman whose taste and power towers above all, you'll not need reminding as you live it every day.