Friday, July 29, 2016

Music to my ears

I listen to the radio.
I play music CDs.
I play the old cassette tapes and listen to the music, especially the mixtapes.
I play the even older LPs and wonder at the gorgeous music from decades past.
I stream music on Pandora, where depending on the mood I might click on any of the genres I have created for myself there.
I turn to YouTube for the old Tamil and Hindi film songs.

I live in an abundance of music, too.  And it seems like I can pull up at any time any song that I have ever known.  The awareness of the rich culture of music across the cultures sometimes even creates an anxiety within me that I might be missing out on something profound and moving.  What a contrast to the old days, anywhere in the world and not merely in the old country!

When we knoew there are a gazillion songs out there, which can be download right away, how to make sense of it?
[Ben] Ratliff noticed some people were expressing unease rather than joy at the prospect of millions of tracks at their beck and call. “Whenever people talked about the great abundance of music out there, they talked about it with a sense of anxiety. People described themselves as overwhelmed, as something negative.
“I don’t know if it is that bad and I think it’s actually really, really exciting. The task is not to bitch about how overwhelmed we all are, but to figure out what’s in there. I think of it as a physical library, and you have to figure out what’s in those stacks and invent reasons to explore further than we normally would.”
We humans are some special animals, I think, when it comes to creating and listening to music.  Listening to music that appeals to us is a function of culture, not biology; "One man’s music really is another man’s noise."  Why music, in the first place?
The genesis of music, Leonardo might agree, is a creative urge to find patterns in noise. It’s an act of rhythm, in tune with the body’s beating heart. From the earliest days on the savanna, humans scream, they shout, they hiss. They clap their hands, they stomp feet. They create noises to chase away adversaries—threatening intruders and imaginary spirits alike.
Music has those primal roots.  
Ultimately, music challenges us to face ambiguity, seek solutions and, in the absence of resolution, turn confusion into a positive emotion by reveling in its ambiguity and vagueness. Looking back, noise has been integral to music as long as music has existed, incorporating imitations of birdcalls, animal sounds, and the cries of street vendors. It sounds ironic to say that indulging in noise is how we manage it. But apparently that is how humans shake, rattle, and roll. The visceral, disorienting response of sound’s interaction with the body is what—quite literally—moves us.
May the music that you like move you towards peace and happiness.


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