A melody, flat picked, sounds programatic and void of contour. It is immediately recognizable as the tune, if the melody is adhered to, but there is something missing. Progressively, through each solo, the melody is dismembered and obscured. Then... shave and a hair cut. We're done.
There is often talk about the importance of melody in flat picking circles. Usually the conversation discusses the importance of adhering to the melody in one's improvisation to highlight the distinctiveness of the melody. To show the listener what makes the tune, the tune, so to speak.
Past this, the conversation drops.
Is there anything wrong with the format of a flat picking tune? It is natural to the ear. Repeatable. It works. There is no doubting this. Its place is to showcase the performer's rhetorical skills. The issue is, language's meaning only exists in context. How can anything be communicated, if there is no context?
It would be wrong to say that there is absolutely no context, because flat picking has launched into a course all its own, meshing with various styles of music along the way. Instead, it should be said, its context is vaguely referential. The treatment of a flat picking tune borrows more from the tradition of jazz improvisation, rather than American traditional music.
One could assert that the bluegrass flat picker does not claim to be an old-time music. And more importantly, they don't have to resemble one. True. However, that very same flat picker likely couldn't give a functional account as to why they aren't an old-time musician, either.
If enough people discuss something falsely, does that make it right, or... excusable? And what happens if there is an outlier who responds so emotionally, that he or she can't control themselves? To acknowledge this voice would be wholly inconvenient...
If nature is to be taken into account, we could quickly concur that the larger force will immediately win. As we have seen, however, the will can bend nature... or so our senses tell us. The will, and nature... aren't these two inseparable?
Large objects have the ability to destroy quickly, though we must not forget that these objects were created from indiscernible forces, taking thousands, if not millions, of years to enact change. It is appealing to fell an oak tree for tonight's heat; resolving to cut a new river gorge for the settling of a new species, less so.
Hyper-literality refers to a textbook definition. The event or phenomenon being described is no longer apart of nature. It is something that happened, and can be traced to a number of human events, making its occurrence rational. But to live in the time period in which it happened reveals something entirely different. You felt it, you were there. If a younger person interviewed you on the topic, using textbook lingo, you would understand that they were referring to the same event, but something is missing...
What is missing, and how do we allow room for it to return?