This quote by Fred Rogers…
“I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.”
…really made me think about the role of simplicity in artistic creation.
Without a doubt I recognize that in this world writing a piece of music with a simple theme or melody is somehow looked down upon (as is not hitting a Driver as far as Tiger Woods OR not building a car that can do twice the speed limit…you get the drift), but why the obsession with complexity (OR distance, OR speed…)?
I prefer the music of Erik Satie to that of Mozart because of this simplicity, but does this make Satie an inferior composer (we all know who had a blockbuster film written about them)? There is somehow a prejudice against simplicity in things…while I recognize that simplicity can sometimes mask lack of knowledge or technique, I think sometimes complexity can equally mask a lack of creativity.
I know that in my own music, I often strive for complexity and in the end “strip away” layers because I dislike the “busyness” of the end product - I don’t think that this is as a result of lack of technique (although I am always learning), but because I gravitate towards this musical simplicity. I feel that sometimes there can really be “too many notes” in a piece of music.
Which brings me to Fred Rogers: in this Fast Food/Easy Credit/Soundbite world his program still sticks out like a Model T on a NASCAR Track…
At surface level, it’s easy to poke fun at “Mister Rogers” (I have myself) - and his gentle quiet, program with “archaic” concepts such as co-operation, friendship, community (etc). - but I dare you to sit any young person who has never seen “Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood” in front of the TV when it’s on. Once they get past their snickering, you will likely marvel as they become mesmerized in the slow-paced world that Rogers calmly weaves. These simple, “archaic” concepts run deep in the human psyche, no matter how easily we try to blow them off, and the messenger is so adept at delivering his message is his slow, sparse dialogue…
To me, this is the triumph of simplicity - people who have seen Mr Rogers REMEMBER Mr Rogers because he is such an alternative to the fast-paced, superficial TV world. Watching one of his programs (to me) is like listening to Satie instead of Mozart; one absorbs the message much better because it is simple and deep.
Perhaps some people are more prone to enjoying simplicity than others (maybe age makes a difference, or where/how you grew up…), but what we should always recognize and respect is the validity of simplicity as a form of artistic expression.
Ultimately, what is important is that the music moves you…no matter how many notes it has.