Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Music Day

Will anyone observe the third "No Music Day" today? I must admit, I forgot all about it until just now... I haven't listened to any music thus far so I may follow Bill Drummond's advice to see if I feel any different having spent a completely music free day. Here's what Drummond has to say about in on his Guardian blog today...

I feel shit. It has just gone 6.30am and this is when I usually feel my best, when my mind is at its sharpest, when the ideas start tumbling into place and I am eager for the day ahead. But this morning I feel shit.

I've no right to claim this state; I mean I'm not living in cyclone-hit Bangladesh or stuck down a mine in the Ukraine or wherever it is.

Now that I have got that out the way I'm feeling better already. First thing to be done is this 600-word blog for the Guardian, then get emails sent before the others get to their Macs and PCs.

The reason that I got invited to do this blog is because Wednesday November 21 is No Music Day. Now in its third year, No Music Day was something I made up. I didn't go to any authority to have it sanctioned. I do not know if there is anywhere one is supposed to go to anyway. I made it up just for me, a way of addressing my jaded relationship with music amongst other things, but it seems to have been catching on. Last year the London-based cult radio station Resonance FM decided to embrace it. This year BBC Radio Scotland, a national radio station with several million regular listeners, has elected to observe it. This I feel good about and to this end I will be catching the sleeper up from Euston tonight, arriving in Glasgow bright and early on Wednesday morning. The day will be spent at the radio station being a guest on a number of the shows, fielding calls, making my case and placating doubters. Of course I will have to defend myself against those that think it all some sort of publicity stunt, prank or even worse - a cynical scam. If you want to know why I felt the need to have a No Music Day and why that day is on the November 21 click here to read what I wrote last year for the Observer's Music Monthly.

The major thing that has changed since writing that piece is that I've decided to limit it to just five years. I do not want to spend every November, for the rest of my life, trying to breathe new life into a concept, that should have been left alone years ago.

So this year being the third, I'm already half way through. Next year I would like to focus No Music Day on film. With so many films I feel that the soundtrack music just gets in the way. It is used to lend drama and emotion but so often it just cheapens and allows for lazy film-making. For the final No Music Day, on November 21 2009, I would love iTunes to shut up shop for the day. Hang the closed sign in their window for 24 hours. Give the world a break and themselves a day off.

But all that is some time away. Between now and catching the sleeper up to Glasgow tomorrow night, I've got to spend today typing up the last chapter in a book entitled 17. I've been working on this over the last 12 months and the final draft was supposed to be with the publishers last Friday. If the book has a central theme, it is about our culture's evolving relationship with music. How, as we delve deeper into the 21st century, the primacy of recorded music is beginning to look more and more like a hangover from another era, we will start developing ways of making, consuming and thinking about music in vastly different ways to what we have been used to for the past 50 odd years. All big stuff, and not something that I can even start on in a 600-word blog, but lying in bed this morning I had an idea. It was for the closing lines of the book; I wanted to use the quote "Say bye-bye, Sooty. Say bye-bye, Sweep". I got myself very excited about it, but couldn't work out why. The quote has no relevance to the rest of the book and anyway how many people would know it?

Last night I presented a performance of The17 at the Seventeen Gallery in London. The17 is a choir, which I have been developing over the past couple of years and will not be going overground with for some months.

Today will be spent working with Mark Lawson, putting together a feature for this evening's edition of Front Row on BBC Radio 4. We are going to be interviewing various people involved with music making and business, about the idea of No Music Day.

And now that I have got this blog done, I will make myself some porridge and walk my youngest son to school.

- Bill Drummond, the Guardian, Nov 21st 2007.