There are fewer and fewer “purists” in the music world. More and more we see styles blending. Willie Nelson says there never were any, that the PR people just made them up and maybe he’s right. Music is music, right?
I am one of those folks who thinks that styles evolve but that isolation has something to do with the cultivation of certain characteristics in a specific style. In-breeding is self-reenforcing and useful in that it carves out or creates something that has a life which would not otherwise, on its own, exist. You can’t really mix something that doesn’t have its own contours with something else. If you lived in the mountains of Appalachia and you just didn’t hear much except the music that was made by live musicians in your town at your church (which was true for a long time) you learned that tradition and probably not much else.
It has been more and more true that electronics has made keeping things “closed” nearly impossible. First movies, then recordings, then radio, then TV and now the internet make it possible for people to see and hear anything anytime almost anywhere. What will that do to music 100 years from now? Can’t imagine.
Some things, however, have not changed in spite of all these kinds of possible outside influences. Rock music has lots of variations but it is still recognizable as rock music. That’s true of some of the newer shows on Broadway, they can ring true to shows going back decades, and of new music in other styles as well. Is this a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same or is it artists deliberately choosing to go back to basics, stick to a “roots” philosophy, or is it just liking a certain kind of expression more than another? Can’t say. Still, some styles are clearly as recognizable now as they were a long time ago.
I remember when we were told years ago that rock and roll was deviant and would go away someday and die. I’m so glad that didn’t happen. Opera has been “dying” for 100 years, but its end somehow never arrives. Broadway is always on the edge of survival, except that currently all the houses either have shows running or have new ones coming in. Hmmmmmmmm.
Guess we will just have to keep learning about all these styles, old and new, unchanging and moving around, just to keep on keeping on. That’s OK with me.