Thursday, May 11, 2017


 The NAMM show (National Association of Music Merchants) is the music retail industry's trade show.  It's where all of the manufacturers gather to show their products and conduct business with all of the music stores.

  Each manufacturer has a demonstration person that does their part in showing what the manufacturer's product is capable of, or what it's meant to do.  As part of that, they learn idiomatic phrases/examples to show at the drop of a hat to accomplish this.

 While one might play an excerpt from a particular song that said device does particularly well, it's really morphed into a situation that is sort of (and this is not meant in a derogatory way) "Glorified Music Store Jammer".

 It's almost it's own art form: a series of phrases strung together not to make a musical statement as part of a song, but to effectively show off, literally.  The NAMM show lick exists in it's own continuum of not quite a piece of music, but not just noodling.

 Basically it's what I call a "preset".  It's kind of like a painter showing you the corner of a painting where there is a hay bale he's painted, or a chef handing you a tapas plate to try something.  Or maybe the air brush artist painting names on t-shirts at the mall.  It's not really showing you what the painter does or is about, or what the chef is preparing for the main course. 

 It's a musical snack.  Musical hors d'oeuvres.  

 At the music store, you hear random people effectively doing the musical equivalent of spraying aerosolized fake cheese sometimes on $3,500 reissue vintage steaks.  Or, you may hear an expertly prepared aged artisanal gouda and smoked salmon morsel laid out on a $150 Ibanez someone is using to check out a $200 pedal looper.

 At the NAMM show, you're offered different varieties of tapas dishes.  Claptonian blues ala carte, Robben Ford du jour, Gilbertian fries, Brent Mason gourmet hot dogs on toothpicks.  

 It doesn't really tell you anything about the player aside from how professional and willing to practice he is.  It may indicate they're particularly clever in what they put together, and how it's presented, particularly relative to the product.  A nice product demo is in itself an art form.

 Is it a form of music?  Is it a genre?  Is it an art form?

I don't know.  There are guys that are particularly good at "demoing" (I have served in this possibly dubious function at different music stores over the years), but it's not like anyone wants to hear a "song" called "Phrases in the idiomatic styles of Eric Johnson and David Gilmour for the Chandler Tube Driver". 

 Or maybe they do....?

 In my opinion Youtube has transmogrified music to mainstreaming this premise: appetizer music presentation as art form.  Which is an interesting idea: the form is the phrase itself.  Do you need to eat "breakfast", "lunch", "dinner"?  Do you need "intro, verse, chorus, verse, bridge, solo"?

 I don't know, I can see a need for all, as well as hybrids.  But I'm here to say that we are now in the NAMM Show Lick Era ofYoutube.










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