Essay on A Controversial Musical Experiment

Category: Art

Musical Experiment

The harsh world of music industry is characterized by severe competition and complicated way towards the love of the public. As the career of musicians is often displayed publicly people tend to see and hear a lot of criticism that musicians have for each other. Sometimes this criticism is legitimate while in other cases it looks like jealousy. After reading the interview where Pat Metheny expresses his opinion about Kenny G and his playing one can see that while some of the arguments may be logical from a professional point of view, he is still being too harsh on his colleague.

Both Kenny G and Pat Metheny are important figures in the world of music. These people have made serious contributions and were a part of the formation of the music world as we know it today. Although from a superficial point of view they seem to be engaged in similar music genres, namely the broad jazz field, these two musicians differ a lot. Starting from the instruments they use to the way they deliver their music and performing styles Kenny G and Pat Metheny have hardly anything in common. Listening to their music it can be argued that Kenny’s captures a wider audience. On the other hand, Metheny’s music seems to be more fine-tuned towards a more selective and appreciative listener, the one who would assess and cherish all the subtle flows of the song. 

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Speaking of Louis Armstrong it can never be stressed enough how influential he has been for the music world and for the millions of people all over the world. Both Kenny G and Pat Metheny have been influenced by his work. Moreover, the whole jazz genre has been heavily influenced and partially formed by this man. In the time of heightened racial tension he managed to overcome the issues of race and become not only a music icon but a beacon of hope for every young artist for many generations to come.

In the light of such reverence towards Louis Armstrong it is not hard to understand the strong reaction of Metheny on Kenny G’s overdubbing of Armstrong’s song “What a Wonderful World”. Mr. Metheny is so passionate about the incident because Kenny G violated in a sense the symbol-song of jazz music while being himself an average improviser. On the one hand, Metheny’s wrath is a fair one. The idea of overdubbing someone’s music or creating covers for songs, especially such significant ones, is personally not very appealing to me. There is rarely anything better than the original produced. Moreover, with such icons as Armstrong and his “What a Wonderful World” adding a new instrument to the composition while using the voice of a dead singer is disquieting at the very least and rather outrageous at the worst. What is more, Mr. Metheny provides an intriguing analysis of Kenny G’s musical talent and how he has trouble with rhythm and improvisation. Those aspects are not visible to an average listener but are surely interesting to hear about from a professional musician. Because of all these arguments, the passion with which Kenny is attacked is quite feasible.

In Kenny G’s defense, however, it has to be admitted that he took the blame for what was definitely a joint project of a group of people. The producers, the publicists, the recording label are always involved in these kinds of decisions; and to put the blame solely on the performer is avoiding the real scope of the problem. Furthermore, judging from strictly consumerist perspective, the end product is still decent. A person knowing nothing about the original track would enjoy listening to the new version. So, whenever there is a time in future when people forget about the original, Kenny G’s version will likely to be received more positively. Lastly, the fact that this musician has such a wide audience means that he is not entirely bad as Metheny tries to describe him.

When it comes to art, the consensus is often difficult to reach. In any cases it is crucial to be sensitive to other people’s tastes and understandings of music. The musician is always in danger of criticism for trying something new but ultimately it is the time and the listener who decide whether one or another experiment will survive through the history.