09 December 2009

Sustainable Music

I can not remember how I happened upon Diego Stocco but I am glad that I did. First just watch his video where he creates beautiful music from an element of nature...SAND!

Diego Stocco - Music From Sand from Diego Stocco on Vimeo.

Um. Wow.

Nature may not do it for everyone, but for me...I love music. I love sound. I love rain on pavement and the sound traffic makes against that. I love the sounds nature makes and I love the sounds musicians make. I love music. After coming across Diego Stocco's work, I started thinking about sustainable approaches towards music and within a few minutes my google search was out of control.

First, I thought about how its such a practical idea to use nature itself in creating music. Diego used sand in one video and a tree in another to create sounds. You can't get more granola than that!

Then I thought about how you can use a simplistic approach towards music. While some people like a huge spectacle type of show such as the U2 concert which I will touch upon later, I also love when its just a singer and their guitar. I can't tell you what the sound of that does to me. Such as a dear friend of mine Dave Seume. Now, Dave can put on a good show. I went to enough of his concerts during college and recorded pretty much all of them. But what I love about one of his latest singles and videos is how he just has his guitar and he sings a song that is so beautiful. Listen to my friend. Dave and his guitar. That's sustainable!

Another approach towards sustainability in music is purchasing used instruments. I really want a guitar and instead of buying a new one, I'd love to have a used one. Perhaps I'll scourer craigslist for a good one.

Another approach is educating yourself. Sustainability and Music is a whole other topic. I'm doing a short post about it but their are blogs and alliances out there just for this in mind. I happened upon Sustainable Music which focuses on cultural sustainability in regards to music but I believe that's just as important as environmental sustainability and economic sustainability. I also came across the Green Music Alliance.
There was so much information on that website it was out of control...in a good way. Take some time and explore the site. I found so many resources. I didn't know there was such a movement! Why can't all the various movements join as one, to really show the true number of people who are really making an effort towards sustainability.

Another thing that I personally do is download all my music. I believe this leaves a far less carbon impact than buying cd's or vinyls or cassette tapes.

Another thing you can do, go to local jazz lounges and open mic cafe type places and hear and support the local musicians in your area.

On a different note, recently I had to opportunity to attend to opening night of U2's 360 tour that began in Chicago. It was amazing! I had encountered Bono before at my undergraduate college because he was there spreading the word about the ONE campaign. But I had never seen him rock before! The concert was incredible!

But while it was incredible it left a GIGANTIC carbon footprint. I wish you could have seen it. The stage was MASSIVE. The sheer amount of energy used....all those lights....all those amps. The stage manager booth was bigger than my apartment. Probably bigger than most people's houses. Imagine that. Needing a booth the size of a house to run the show from. That's crazy.

I heard things like, it taking over 200 trucks to move the concert from city to city. I heard it cost 40 million to build the stage. 334 stage hands to make it all work. The fact that it takes 5 days to assemble the stage and 3 days to take it apart...I've never heard of such a thing. How did such a massive, expensive show fit with their environmental beliefs.

The Edge spoke with   BBC News and was quoted as saying,"I think anybody that's touring is going to have a carbon footprint. I think it's probably unfair to single out rock 'n' roll. There's many other things that are in the same category but as it happens we have a programme to offset whatever carbon footprint we have." He was also quoted as saying, "We'd love to have some alternative to big trucks bringing the stuff around but there just isn't one."

Here's the thing. As much as I LOVED the show. The effects were out of this world. The band was AMAZING, everything was great...but as much as I loved it, I still feel his comments are a bit of a cope out. For a group that is trying to literally feed the hungry children in africa, it seemed like for as long as they have been in the business they could have come up with some creative solutions and alternatives.

But I don't judge them. While I spout out my granola tendencies, there are other areas in my life where true "greenist" would be appalled. So I get it. I have a quote on one of my art journals that's from Bono. It says something to the effect of, "I want to be a Rock Star and save the world too!"

Can they co-exist? Is it ok to spend half your fortune on your every whim and then the other half on starving children. Or should it all go to them? When is enough enough?

I can't answer that questions. But I can say that I hope that they find another way to put on their shows. What if the biggest Rock Band in the world was able to give a phenomenal experience to its fans while still taking sustainable measures. It would set the standard in the music industry!

One of my favorite moments from the show was probably one of the quietest, less showy moments. It was when The Edge played guitar and Bono held the mic and together just the two of them sang, "Stuck in a Moment." To me, that simple moment was the most mind blowing of all. The Edge, Bono and an acoustic guitar.

What could U2 have done differently? What are other ways in which music can be environmentally sustainable? Diego used sand and trees to make music...what else should he use? Have you created music from the earth.


Shelagh said...

I thought that was an interesting quote by Bono "I want to be a rock star and save the world too," and I think about your question a lot, the one you asked about whether it is enough to give half your fortune to starving children and spend the rest lavishly.

I've been getting more and more tangled up in that question as I get older (not that I'm THAT old) but I used to look at really wealthy people and be sort of disgusted by the waste of it all when there are starving people in the world. Then, I started thinking, how lavish my own lifestyle must look to those same people who have nothing. I try to do what I can but it never seems like it will be enough. There are days when I feel like I should give it all away, and then of course, the rest of the days when I obviously don't give it all away. No answers here, but I just wanted to say I've thought about that a lot too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for skype-ing with me for my presentation. I really appreciate you taking the time to do that. Everybody really enjoyed having you there! Hope you're doing well and thank you again!

SLY said...

@ Greenmyguy...There is a post in the works about the skype-in section. I even took screen shots of my mac so I could add those in! I enjoyed it! :)

@Shelagh. I love Bono's quote. That's why I pasted it on my journal. I feel the same. There are all these "noble" things I want to do and "profane" things too. I want to be more sustainable but I love buying candles, body butter or whatever. I want to feed the starving children and yet I order Thai and Vietnamese food way more than I should. I think we could always do more than we think but we also want to make sure its sustainable. We can't exhaust ourselves to nothing. or maybe we can. I don't know. I think each should do what they can and see what happens.

Shelagh said...

I feel the same way, and thanks again for the quote. I don't know if I mentioned that I have a ridiculous crush on Bono, so its a wonderful quote for more than one reason. :)

On a totally unrelated note, I'm wondering if you have any tips on sustainable or organic makeup? I love your posts on your homemade body products and you really seem to know your stuff!!! I have a few makeup things that are about to run out and haven't found much info on a greener way to replace them. I'd treasure any advice you had.

SLY said...

A crush on Bono? After the concert I have a crush on The Edge. He was just TOO COOL! Did you know Bono came to my school for his ONE campaign my junior year I believe! It was nice to see him so close!

I'll have to think about the makeup thing. I've come across a couple companies and vendors during some conferences and such but I haven't thought much about it. I don't wear a lot of makeup but I know there are some good ones out there!

Shelagh said...

(I like the Edge too) - and I'm really really jealous that Bono came to your school. Thanks for thinking about the makeup thing !!