What is the goal of a medicine? We are constantly working towards finding better ways to heal people and make them well. We are searching for ways to destroy diseases, harmful bacteria, and genetic disorders. We are figuring out how to regenerate body parts and reduce the effects of aging to allow for longer life. We are constantly seeking easier and more efficient ways to do this. So what if we succeed? What if, one day, we invent a pill that will cure everything, regenerate everything, and restore vitality to everyone who takes it? We would be immortal. We would live forever (barring immediately fatal accidents), not worrying about health problems, and would have no need for medical doctors or researchers. Would this be good?
Think about the goals of some of the other sciences: the end result of biology would be the complete and total understanding of life and all of it’s parts; the end result of archeology is the complete understanding of the past and it’s artifacts; and the end result of political science and the study of law is a perfect system of government that is totally fair for everyone. These may or may not be attainable goals, but they are the direction that every scientist and scholar aims for–the end result of a line of inquiry.
You can figure out the end result of any science pretty easily, but what about art? What is the end result of musical study, dance, or film? I think that art is about emotional expression, and the end result of that would be complete and total expression of the artist’s state of emotions in the present. But art very often involves many people, and so is just as much about communication as expression. I believe that art also involves communication with an audience, and so would entail emotive expression on a larger scale, with all performers and audience expressing and receiving emotive energy perfectly. In the case of a film, hundreds of people are involved, and it entails taking one person’s state of emotions (the director), and everyone working together to express that. Same with choreographed dance or composed music, the individuals work towards expressing one persons state of emotions.
In this way, art that involves more than one artist or a composer/director/leader-of-some-sort, should be in a different category than individual art. Even in the case of a band, it is the individual expressing herself that communicates her emotions to the audience, but if it is a composed piece that a band plays, then they would try to convey the emotions of the composer. In an orchestra, it is very often the conductor who is the one supplying most of the emotive energy for the performance. With an improvised ensemble, it is very individual; the individual is able to put all of his emotions directly into the music and communicate directly with an audience in the present.
I much prefer improvised music. I currently play in a cover band that performs composed music, all with a similar emotional feel, and I play a weekly improvised jam session, where the trio or quartet I play with simply plays what we feel, in the moment. Even though the cover band plays regularly to very large audiences, I feel I can only connect with them when I am in the same state of mind as the particular piece we are playing, or when the crowd is very drunk. It is drunk, ‘party’ music that we play, the crowd parties, and if I’m not partying with them I can’t feel the emotional connection. The improvised, coffee shop gig, however, I can express myself truly, in the moment, and the connection comes quickly and easily with the audience and the other band members.
Were I able to party four or five days a week while playing with my cover band, then that might be an emotional outlet for me, but I prefer to experience a much wider range of emotions, and I need some way to express them. I notice after my improv gig that I feel drained but revitalized at the same time; like I have a clean emotional slate. After a week on the road with the cover band, I just feel drained of all of my ‘party.’ Quite literally.
The party band is an emotional outlet for the audience, and the improv gig is an emotional outlet for me. Both are necessary, and will persist into the future, and both are art. It is emotional communication, and is a necessity for a functional society.