Archive for August 2005

Should we Write the Death Certificate for Assyrian Music?

Let me ask you a question, and be honest in answering it: when was the last time you bought an original Assyrian music album? Good for you if it wasn’t long ago. But it could also be years since you last did so; why buy albums if you can get copies or MP3 version for free huh? Unfortunately, this attitude is what is killing our Assyrian music. In fact, and aided by the advent of such programs like Kazaa, Napster etc. music is suffering a lot, Assyrian and non-Assyrian. This article however, concerns itself with Assyrian music. But others may argue, that Assyrian music is on the decline not because of illegal copying, but because Assyrian singers themselves are not producing good music. Which one should we believe? What is the true reason behind Assyrian music losing its popularity?

The fact of the matter is, the problem is like a self-enforcing cycle. Some Assyrians are no longer interested in buying music albums, so they just copy them for free. When that happens, Assyrian singers in turn get nothing for their efforts, so they get discouraged and are no longer interested in putting their time and effort in something that will go in vain. And this cycle will continue to self-enforce itself until we do something about it.

No one can deny it: illegal copying of music has become very popular in the last 5 years. The availability of cheap computer recording equipment, coupled with the invention of online music sharing, has made copying music a breeze. We have a whole new generation being raised on the idea that music should be given out for free, and that we should not pay for it. So this will obviously cause sales of Assyrian music to decline. While this has negative impact on singers themselves, it does help to promote their music at the same time; although on their expense. This clearly can’t go on forever.

Some people don’t think the problem lies in copying music. They think the problem is that the Assyrian music industry is under performing in itself. The music industry includes the singers, the musicians, the arrangers, the writers and others; singers are the focal point here. But are Assyrian singers really not sweating it out to produce something good? It depends on who you ask. One common misconception amongst our Assyrians is: “the music of the past is better than today’s music…” In other words, today’s music sucks compared to the music of the 90s. But in 10 years from now, that music of then will suck compared to the great music we have now. Do you notice something here? I do! It is our failing to appreciate something in its present. In other words, we never like our Assyrian music unless some few years have passed since it was produced. We can only argue that yesterday’s music is better than today because of the use of full bands, instead of relying on a one-man show on a keyboard or synthesizer.

So are we ready to officially announce the death of Assyrian music and write its death certificate? I don’t think so. Despite all that I have presented above, I still see a positive future for Assyrian music. A future where the singers and the people both re-enforce each other, thus leading to better music. In fact, and this is my personal opinion, I see no problem with Assyrian music in our day today. Music is part of our culture, and it helps define who we are. So it is very vital that we preserve it and work to make it better.

The golden generation of Evin Aggasi, Ashur Sargis, Sargon Gabriel, Biba, Linda George and many others have dedicated their life to serving the Assyrian song. And when they are gone, a new generation needs to take the lead. And the good news is, we already have a new generation that is not only redefining the Assyrian song, but also making it sound better. Linda George, Walter Aziz, Johnny Talya, Ninos Giwargis and many others, are revolutionizing our music and making it more modern with the new music of today. Of course, modernizing our music doesn’t mean to forget our original Assyrian music and tunes.

So by now, you should see a better picture of what is going on. You, the Assyrian people, including me, need to go out and buy more Assyrian albums. We need to support our singers as much as possible. Let us make it so that if someone copies Assyrian music, he is not only cheating the system but committing a sin too; a theft. Let us have some empathy, shall we?

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