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Music and Mythology

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

Since the work of Carl Jung to Joseph Campbell, it has been well decided that people are strongly attracted to, or reliant on sets of archetypal mythologies about personality. The hero, the sage, and even the salesman are very deep unconscious idealistic forms of behavior that have been passed down from generation to generation and from ancestor to ancestor. The presence of such an idea is brought to the fore when one takes on a new role that has a strong archetypal character attached to it. Say during the transition from womanhood to motherhood or from employee to owner-operator, these individuals likely have a strong set of unconscious ideas and ideals of what it is to be a maternal figure or a leader. Distinct roles and occupations can carry along with them a deep mythology. The life of the musician is one of them.

The intimacy of practice, the exercise of dedication, and the joys of discovering and developing new techniques can be set into the shadows as what was once a craft for the practicing musician transforms into a display of mythology as they become a performer. One of the interesting things about the musician is that there are often multiple mythologies that surround them. Ideas of the hero which may have been established by the lead singer of someone’s favorite 80’s rock band or the lyrical and prophetic sage, or the magical mystic who only appears when ready to showcase his muse are common archetypes associated with musicians. Such archetypal ideas can be held so strong that individuals will construct an array of assumptions surrounding the performer.

“He does not practice… he just knows. It’s a gift. A talent. Some are just born with it… others are not.” While it might not be necessary to uncover all parts of these assertions, one can make a healthy assumption and presume they are half-truths. It is not that people do not possess natural talents and inclinations nor that they are unlikely to have a strong capability to retain their skills thus making practice less of a necessity, but the contention here is that these convictions are often set in order to placate and uphold a fantastical image of who and what a particular person is. As fun as it may be to believe that some of us are supremely extraordinary, that might just be a reach for something beyond reality. It is thus the pursuit for something beyond the norm that seems to continually pique our interest and an aesthetic such as music has for a good while been used as a vehicle for that quest.

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