Today marked the last bullfight in Cataluña, the southeastern province of Spain (home to Barcelona). The Autonomous Regions, as they are called, outlawed bullfighting. Whether you’re for or against it, we know it was the end to an extensive history at least as long as the reconquista age of the country. For those of you who do not know, I lived in Barcelona during the summer of 2007 studying abroad. I cannot believe that was four years ago…man I miss it.
Anyways, I’m not really here to talk about whether or not bullfighting or its legality are a good or bad thing. Just an FYI, CNN failed to report on the more global issue at hand, which is not only that there are some who love bullfights and others who see it as animal cruelty, but that many Cataluñians don’t see themselves as fully Spanish and vice versa. The political diaspora between Castillans and Cataluñians is fundamental in understanding how these groups separate themselves, but I digress.
What does this have to do with music? While going through the pictures of a Barcelona news site I like, in the story about the last bullfight, I saw a picture that unexpectedly surprised me. Open another tab and go through all of them (the first one is an incredible picture btw), but if you’re lazy or pushed for time you can see the one I’m talking about here.
Did you know that there was a time when bands played at sporting events? Did you know that now, even at colleges games, the sound systems are being turned up more and more, and sometimes (this REALLY ticks me off) at games the jumbo-tron speakers will play something over the band? This is not just in college but also in high schools. More and more, speakers are moving in, and less and less, band is seen as important.
I want you to think about the last time you went to an event in which there were not big speakers or amplifiers. I’m not saying these tools are bad, quite the contrary I like them, but they are often used to blast out real music expression. However, I’ve noticed that in the digital age, so many have decided that live music is not good or acceptable for community events, or if there is live music, it is of a specific rock/pop/r&b style. None of those are bad, but most people miss so many elements of music and will go to their grave having never heard real counterpoint, jazz language, or the incredible sonorities of modern music.
Just like these Spaniards and Catalonians, our culture is changing. However, there is not even the courtesy of controversy, or anyone batting an eye and the killing of musical involvement in community events. Sometimes I wonder if the fate of live musicians will suffer the same fate as the bulls.