What happens every year happens every time we listen to a piece again. We weren’t the same person that we were when we listened to it the first time, the second, or the seventh. The meaning changes, senses are now heightened to a particular part of the piece, we love it even more, we can’t stand it now.
Each listening of a piece is like the start of a New Year.
How special a gift music is to us because of this.
What will your next listen have in store?
Writer Ray Bradbury recommends that every writer read at least one poem, one short story, and one essay every day. The goal is that by the end of even a month one’s mind is filled with various ideas that could seep into one’s creative writing.
Could this transition to music somehow? We listen to a lot of new things in our noisy environment. How much of it actually sticks? Pandora is great but how often do we just like one song of an artist and not go any further?
Maybe one could create a regimen: delve deeply into the catalogue of one artist every week? A week might not be enough but it offers more than a taste if we want to delve deeper. Of course this is supplemented with listening to other things, new and familiar, but at least you can really sink your ears into an artist’s work.
And maybe you’ll go about things a different way. Regardless, I think the goal is to fill the mind with music of all types a la Bradbury’s regimen. An in depth knowledge of various music can only benefit us as we go into a playlist world where singles and short attention spans rule.
With new music we’re afraid that we won’t get it.
But we do get it. We’ve been getting it since we were kids.
Some of the most abstract music that we’ve taken in enthusiastically can be found in cartoons. Try watching a cartoon without the image and with only the sound. The music is unpredictably manic depressive and wonky. But once we put a picture to it, that off putting glissando is Bugs Bunny ascending stairs.
Look at Disney’s successful Fantasia. It utilized the likes of Stravinsky without much fright for it was complimented by the harrowing adventures of dinosaurs.
David Hargreaves has a theory on “open-earedness” which states that the younger a child is, the more she is open to unfamiliar and strange music. I think this correlates wonderfully with watching cartoons as a kid. The music complimented the cartoons and thus no fuss.
Perhaps that’s how some of us are able to listen to newer music. We liken it to the play of cartoon music and our imagination runs wild.
Maybe we need to harken to a childish innocence when exploring the avant garde. Perhaps it’s not as serious as we think. Perhaps in the best of ways it’s only child’s play.
Inspired by Sara Sitzer’s “New Music for New Ears”
We don’t have a shortage of people putting music out there.
We have a shortage of leaders, champions, connectors, and provocateurs in music.
We need your music, sure, but we also need you to organize the next open mic. We need your music, sure, but we also need you to champion classical music to a younger generation. We need your music, sure, but we also need you to speak out and write about unsettling musical ideas.
Your music isn’t enough. We need you.
Music has so much life in it: joy, sorrow, grace, nobility, irreverence, pain, terror. It is a wild and untamable animal. It is anything but square. It curves and squiggles.
And yet we try to straighten the edges. Franz Schubert’s music is nothing to get stuck up about. That cages the art. But when we love his music openly and passionately, whether listening to or performing it, Schubert is released into the wild. Life is put back into it.
We must let music not be something to be competitive or dismissive or mean about but something to enliven our passion for what it means to be human.
I think we have to release music back into the wild.
Every film has that moment that’s worth the ticket: that stupendous stunt, that crazy twist, that special effect. It leaves an imprint in your psyche. You can’t think of that movie without that moment.
Music is just like film in this regard. There are moments in a piece that are worth the ticket: that stupendous bass drop, that crazy modulation, that special melody. You can’t think of that piece without that moment.
How would this effect you as a performer? As a listener?
The posture of music making is one of generosity. It is a posture of sharing one’s inner voice to the world, whether it be in a sold out concert hall or living room for three people, whether it be original work or interpretations of an other’s music.
Music sincerely shared is a gift. Music is an endless Christmas where you want to be the one giving the most presents. What a wonderful art form.