Who's Music Is It Anyway?

It's been 20 years since a wise old poet/printer/street musician named Tim Lander and I sat one misty night in the MacDonalds on Granville Street, and he told me it was his sense that human beings needed music in a very powerful way... and that given how many terrible things seem to be happening all the time these days, music was the only thing holding us together. and getting us to the next morning.

I remember his words because every day since, as I look around, they have rung more and more true because music seems to be everywhere. Sometimes softly, just loud enough to nearly fill the emptiness in the aisles at the supermarket and echo down the canyons at the mall. It's in cars at stoplights, throbbing at volume levels that seem surreal even from a distance.

There's music in all those earbuds running up from Ipods at the on the bus, on the street, on the plane - music as a wall, a separator to create some semblance of personal space where none exists, to keep reality, even our internal reality just far enough away to seem safe.

Music is amazing. It may be
the most beautiful thing we
have created as a species.

When we celebrate life, we do it to music. When we bury our dead, music walks with us. When we think no one can understand how we feel, music reassures us someone does (or did). When we want to dance, music says "Yeah!". It's power to soothe, pleasure, define, inspire, communicate and motivate us rivals that of food, sex and creation stories, and like these other fundamentals, it is a commonality among human communities.

All god's children make music and listen to music. Music has been an open source project for thousands of years. Generation upon generation of musicians, composers and listeners have listened, learned, created, taught and otherwise contributed to the creation of a universe of sounds, traditions, styles, theories and possibilities. Every day of the way, musicians have been travelling, playing, listening and copping licks, hooks, melodies and verses from each other and taking them another heartbeat further.

We live in a time when it's possible to access music- both in live performance and recordings - from all over the world and we can listen back to recordings more than 100 years old. The music we hear today is the source code for the music of tomorrow.

Music is a heritage we all everyone of us have created together, had our fun with it and in our turn, we welcome new generations into that unbroken circle... the first to have grown up immersed in this incredible listening experience. They are the most sophisticated musicians and listeners in human history. The music their children might make is beyond imagining.

Who does music belong to?

I think it belongs to all of us...
but I don't think any of us own it.