Child’s Play

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”


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