Why would someone who loves traditional music fear for its survival?
If you love a form of music, doesn’t that imply that you believe in it?
It’s ironic that someone might think traditional music is superior, but that it’s also in danger, and in need of preservation. To me, traditional bluegrass is undeniable–some of the most soulful and pure music ever. What Monroe and Scruggs did will never go away. Its influence on other styles is far reaching at this point, and its evolution is vibrant. THAT IS AMAZING, and something to be very proud of. It will live on in all its forms only because it’s good, not because we helped it out. Nobody (and no organization) can ‘change’ bluegrass, limit its growth or define its bounds–this is a lost cause, especially given that it’s a pure opinion issue.
What we can do is celebrate bluegrass and its many connections, and this will be the best way to ensure that the music is always flourishing.
Does great art (and the process that creates it) ever need to be ‘preserved?’
I don’t think it does. Great art happens, it always has and it always will. If a great form of music exists, why would anyone put energy into keeping it the same, when good art is defined by evolution, new voices and growth? People support what they love and that’s all they ever have to do. Supporting is very different from preserving. The music is up to the artists. Great acts find the support they need whether they are old or new sounding. These people love the music for what it is, without ever wanting to change it. Acoustic music is primed to make that kind of authentic connection to more people. As the old recording industry model disintegrates, quality/authentic music continues to rise. This will help bluegrass across the whole spectrum, building respect for the old school masters and creating new paths for the droves of young picking talent about to emerge.
More than ever before, bluegrass can take care of itself. Better yet, it has the opportunity to grow.
Could a specific form of music disappear? Could something bad like that actually happen?
I suppose that if it had little popular appeal, it might fade away. But bluegrass is far too deep, far too real to suffer any such trend. We should have no concerns about competing with other forms of music, especially when string band popularity in general is hitting new and unprecedented heights. You can’t isolate yourself from the larger music world and hope to find success–nearly no musicians actually want that anyway. Bluegrass, along with all its branches, is so unique and so full of skill, and those things are truly a leg up in this industry climate. And for those who fear that the intimacy will disappear, bigger shows are actually what most artists want (and if they don’t they just need to tell their booking agent!!). I believe that most traditional settings will remain the same, if not becoming a slightly larger version of exactly what they are now. Artists do what they want to do. If you find yourself disagreeing with it, something is wrong.
We just need to enjoy and support the music we think is great, and in turn great things will happen to it.
Have faith in the music you love. Don’t worry about everything else!