Sunday, June 28, 2009

Don’t Black or White Me

This post is will not be about the controversy surrounding the last years of his life. This post will not be about his eccentric ways. This post will be about the musical genius Michael Jackson.

Specifically in regards to his Thriller, Bad, and Dangerously albums Michael Jackson, in my opinion, was a master at percussion. The use of percussion and the variety of percussion in his matured sound is phenomenal. It’s a sound that I’ve not yet heard duplicated. In Michael Jackson’s work, percussion wasn’t merely the bass line. He used it to not only set the timing of the piece, but to manipulate the timing and manipulate how the audience followed the timing.

When an artist creates, their work is not their own. I don’t mean in a “collaborative effort” sense, but in a larger sense. When an artist, musician, or writer places their work in the heart and soul of the audience, the work takes on a new life. The audience member now has the responsibility to receive, interpret, and place their own world view upon it.

Michael Jackson’s use of percussion was a direct line to the audience--an unbroken connection between artist and art. A primal heartbeat underlined, permeated, and accented his work.

Not only did he fully understand the power of sound, he understood the equally powerful flipside: silence. His use of silence is another layer of his music that is unparalleled, at least in my perspective. In order for light to be powerful it must relinquish some power to shadow. In order for color to move our hearts it must yield to “void zones”. The weight of words upon our minds is directly related to the “white space” around it. As we drown in the “wall of sound” that has seemed to infect modern music, silence has become even more powerful.

Michael Jackson masterfully created with both sound and silence.

He was also a master of the metaphor. From heavy handed to subtle, he guided us through his political pieces. He presented the facts as he saw them and left it up to us to carry message. And some of us have been carrying the message from “We Are The World” for twenty-four years.

Although I could never be accused of being a Michael Jackson fangirl, I can appreciate his genius. His death is the world’s loss.