In a Spotify, mixtape, Youtube, and shuffle world, buffet style consumption is the norm. Buffets are smorgasbords of possibility where any and everything is on the table for you: pizza and gyros and ice cream sundaes, Led Zeppelin and Beethoven and Kraftwerk.
Variety is the crux of the buffet style. It is, however, its fault as well. One only gets a taste of something before moving on to another taste. There isn’t an incentive to savor the cornbread when the salad and pork chops are glistening for attention. There isn’t time to savor the salad and pork chops when the parfaits and baklava are calling you to swoon from their sugary siren song.
The only thing we get is full. Not satisfied, not content, but stuffed: regret mixed with misery and over saturation. Music becomes a wash. Even at local shows, say with a five band line up, all you remember are certain tastes, not lasting impressions of bands. It becomes a hit and run, a 5 bucks for unlimited food kind of musical experience.
What if you only received one course? One meal? The chef presents it to you, lets you take a bite. Then he explains how it was made, where the ingredients came from, and what the dish means in the context of his life and of cuisine. All the while you turn all of your attention to this one dish. The story, the information, and the tastes collide to create a fulfilling experience.
Maybe that is where music needs to go. God, what if a classical musician played only one piece at a recital but went into detail about when and how and why it was written, how she approached it, and what it means to her, playing it multiple times and certain passages when appropriate.
Would we leave that concert remembering the piece? Maybe. Would we leave satisfied rather than stuffed? You bet. Perhaps that’s where we need to be headed with music: satisfied rather than stuffed with both performing and listening.