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film music

Echo in the Canyon and the Perception of Artists

Why our archetypal artist is an misconception.

What is an artist? When you read that question, what image strikes your mind all of the sudden like a far-off thunder from clouds beyond your horizons? Is it a person, man or woman, who toils in isolation? Someone with a vision to create something new, original, never before seen? Someone who out of the vacuum of existence brings forth something worth the time and effort of both you and me?

The vast majority of people see artists in that way. I think the perception of a creator (YouTubers excluded of course) as a solitary force that brings about unseen things all by itself, started around the time of Romanticism. They see the world in a very specific way, spend a lot of time with themselves, trying to squeeze meaning, or beauty out of every aspect of their experience. But that is totally wrong. That period of time and that particular way of behavior in an artist is a very small exception to the general rule. Artists are generally people’s persons. When you look back, even to the farthest parts of our written history, creation was public.

What I mean by that is that works were performed in public. There wasn’t anything like copyrights and people would mix and match stories and characters. Or remix them. There were always some slight variations. Most greek dramas cover a few famous families or events. But the artist, from the first Babylonian poets to greek dramatists to Shakespeare, they were all among people all the time. But also among each other. Greek dramatists spent time with each other, especially during games of all sorts. And Shakespeare spent a lot of time with fellow writers like Kit Marlow or Webster.

That is one long introduction to what this music documentary, Echo In the Canyon is all about. The film is a nostalgia trip and also an exploration of how some of the most influential music of the last 100 years was created. During the 60s musicians started to gravitate towards the Laurel Canyon in California. The featured artists that are covered are The Byrds, The Mamas and the Papas, the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, and many more. The documentary and the musical performances by modern artists who pay tribute to this musical era (artists such as Beck, Dylan Rider, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, and many more).

But the movie does a great job showing how much collaboration there is between artists. As well as, how creation is basically non-stop chaos. It took a bunch of people playing music non-stop, listening to what others tried to create or did create, react and adapt to it. We are all products of our experience and if you want to create something, you better experience as much as possible.

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