Saturday, January 2, 2010

Music, Identity and Cooperation - Why do rocks bands break up?

Why do rocks bands break up? This question has always emerged in mind since I started listening to rock bands. The immediate answer that used to come and still come in mind is it that it happens due to different incentives that arrive between band members during the course of their creative journey of composing music. But could it be always explained by such a simplistic answer of different incentives of a band member. In order to answer this question one could first analyse why does a band form? Is it because of doing one form and type of music together? Is it for the sake of earning money and recognition by doing one form of music? Is it to spread a philosophy? Is it to stay happy by doing one form of music together as collective music creates greater happiness? Is it to stay happy with the created collective identity of a band?

While doing rehearsals together with other colleagues one day, it appeared to mind that may be all the above questions in some way act as an explanatory factor towards formation and sustenance of a band. But for this blog, I would only focus on the last question which is how music creates a collective identity that finally helps all band members to cooperate and create a collective identity that makes them happy to stay together. Simplistically, one could say that a band stays together as long as they are happy to stay together. Here I have a feeling even if there are monetary and other social incentives for a band member to seperate from a band, he or she doesnot move out as long as the person feels the happiness from the collective identity created by their contribution of music inputs in the band. So a band stays together because of primarily of a musical identity that generates happiness for the members of the band together. What is this musical identity? To put simplistically, lets take an example. Say, there are 4 members in a band. 2 members of the band specialise and has a liking for blues form of music, 1 member has for jazz and another member for western classical. Now a band is formed with these 4 members. How these 4 people who have different preferences could join together and keep on continuing composing music? A simple answer is that there has to be an optimal mix of each form of the music (jazz, blues, western classical) that could create a collective composition
so that each one of them could relate to their individual identities (jazz, blues, western classical) in the collective music they compose together. Game theorists working on cooperation theories could come out with an algorithm to find out the optimal set of musicians and of what class, type that could help the members to cooperate and stay together as a band.

For me, the trick to stay together and maintain the existence of the band is to cooperate in a way that could optimise the musical identities of the band members in their compositions in a structured way to generate happiness for band members. As long as that exercise is done there is a chance that personal music identities of band members wont outweigh the collective music identity of the band. Balancing of music identities of band members is an essential step to hold the band together. These are like endogenous components of a stable system. The system could become unstable (in this case the band) from outward components, forces (like social, recognition and monetary incentives of individual band members) once this collective identity of the band is not maintained. May be physicists could study a band as a stable system and could analyse how such a system behaves under different entropies like external forces of social, monetary, recognition incentives for individual band members.

What is the way to maintain the stability of this band/system? May be repeated practising of collective mixing of individual music identities in the rehearsals. Like a Pavlov's conditioned reflex experiment, once a rock band diligently practices to become selfless and disciplines themselves to practice the creation of a collective musical identity (through mixing of individual music identities - this mixing responsibility has to be taken by one member who would act like a valve in the system and would allow the right flow and mix of music identities to happen), the larger is the chance of long term persistence of the band. This might also help them to do good music together for a long time. One group of skeptics might say that creativity of a band lies in the looseness and flambuoyance that creates their identity. But I would say that there is a need for the right mix of structured experimentation of a band with an analogy to Pavlov's conditioned reflex experiment (so here repeatedly the band would practise mixing of music identities in rehearsals and one day it would happen naturally and then they wont have to push themselves for doing it) and at the same time there is a need to be loose, not too structured in the rehearsals to allow creative genius to come in the creation of composite musical identity of the band. So there are areas where being structured could help the long lasting nature of the band and there are areas where it has to be balanced with creative looseness. This would differ from band to band as the behavioural dimensions of each band members would be differing across various rock bands. May be a future study analysing the behavioural dimensions of band members from a sample of rock bands that broke out could help in analysing how far the composite music identity and collective happiness contributed in the binding of rock bands together.

So for future, the questions that geekonomists around the world might like to explore from a sample of rock bands (that broke) over a particular time frame are -

a) Why does a band form? b)Is it because of doing one form and type of music together? c)Is it for the sake of earning money and recognition by doing one form of music? d)Is it to spread a philosophy? e)Is it to stay happy by doing one form of music together as collective music creates greater happiness? f)Is it to stay happy with the created collective identity of a band?

May be answers to these questions would then help in writing a thesis titled - "Music, Identity and Cooperation".

Geek (Anando)

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