The purpose of music is not only to entertain people, but also to enable them to experience an enjoyable and harmonized melody that has a lasting impact. The value of solo pieces performed every now and then by talented musicians is not equivalent to the value of composing and playing a great symphony; however, it gives us a glimpse of our musical potential. Good songs never die; they endure and are appreciated by successive generations — a clear advantage over many other industries and products.
The position of orchestra conductors, who spend the entire performance with their backs to the audience, is designed to enable them to lead their outstanding musicians and to get the best out of them. Directing an orchestra is probably one of the most challenging jobs; a good conductor needs to be aware of his musicians’ individual capabilities and limitations and to capitalize on them in order to complement one another as a team. A talented conductor’s mission has always been to release his musicians’ talent and egoism in the form of a symphony — or other music — that lasts beyond the performance itself.
Politics has much in common with music. It involves assigning many talented politicians to suitable positions so they can better serve their fellow citizens. Politicians are always eager to perform live; they show off their capabilities to their followers, compete with their peers for key positions in a political symphony and produce political ideas that last beyond the moment. Like musicians, politicians need a good conductor to undertake the very challenging job of governing both politicians and citizens — who may harbor hopes of conducting the orchestra themselves.
The offbeat music that Egyptians are listening to daily is the result of not-so-talented musicians playing the wrong melodies at inconvenient times. Conductors who often spend time justifying the quality of their music would not need to do so if their symphonies met the expectations of the audience. Meanwhile, the phenomenon of many Egyptian musicians trying to express their talents through solo performances serves only to waste these musicians’ energy on producing songs and melodies that never reach an audience. We in Egypt always claim that the lack of modern musical equipment has a negative effect on our performances; however, a better use of talented musicians would overcome any shortages in musical equipment.
To enhance our country’s musicality, the Egyptian government needs to empower many citizens to play their melodies, keeping an eye on them to detect the most talented musicians that deserve to join the national orchestra.
In an attempt to advance the state’s melodies, the state media consistently play bizarre songs produced by the government (that lacks any degree of musical aptitude). Citizens that hum along with these songs are proof of the state’s ability to plant its tunes into citizens’ minds by playing them continuously, but that is not necessarily a proof of quality. The state, which controls Egyptian melodies, should think of prompting young, gifted musicians to establish their own bands. Playing music that has its own fans and is not propped up by the state is better for engaging our youth (who have been completely alienated by the state’s marching band music) in the community.
Sadly, Egypt is a country that values quantity over quality. However, when it comes to music, producing a few quality performances will better entertain citizens than the current mechanism of churning out an abundance of offbeat melodies. Bureaucracy and corruption have favored inferior over superior quality goods in most Egyptian industries — including the arts field where the work of talented individuals is supposed to be brought to light. We are a country that is rich in gifted musicians, has moderate equipment, but lacks good conductors. By not using these gifted musicians, the government is making it impossible for us to compose, perform and conduct fabulous symphonies.
To enhance our country’s musicality, the Egyptian government needs to empower many citizens to play their melodies, keeping an eye on them to detect the most talented musicians that deserve to join the national orchestra. Egypt needs to capitalize on these talented musicians in order to perform a symphony that stretches musicians’ capabilities and truly meets the audience’s expectations — a symphony that reaches the minds and souls of Egyptian citizens that is directed by a conductor who knows that his talent lies in getting the best from his musicians.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. He can be reached on Twitter @MohammedNosseir.