Muzak

January 11, 2013 at 11:33 am (Uncategorized)

So as you may or may not be aware, I have recently joined two choirs so that I can sing more consistently/meet people/generally get out of the house. One meets Wednesday nights, the other on Thursdays. They are fairly different (although in the same organization) but I think I will really enjoy them both.

Last night we had our first rehearsal of the sub-season (the way it works is that there are 4 main concerts at the end of each season–for instance, this one will be in March) and there was a part on one of the songs we were rehearsing that was a little bit difficult and we kept coming back to. At measure 69. Now normally even for my sometimes sophomoric sense of humor that would have been whatever. But we kept coming back to it. “Basses and Altos, 69!” “Ok, let’s do 69 again.” “Guys, that went really well but let’s go back to 69 again to lock it in.” I was looking around and no one else was finding this funny. I am sitting there with the worst poker face trying to hold back this shit eating grin, and everyone else just seemed oblivious. I am one of the youngest people there (there are a fair amount of late 20s-mid 30s, and then a group of older people as well. Actually thinking about it I’m almost certainly the youngest or close to it), but either they all have great poker faces or it just wasn’t funny to them. I don’t want to live in a world where that doesn’t at least elicit a slight chuckle from me. Growing up in this instance I feel is vastly overrated.

So I left choir last night and was driving home and my iPod was playing music too melancholy for my mood, so I put on College Dropout by Kanye West. It’s an album I a) love and b) haven’t listened to in a while. I love that album for a few reasons. First, it’s a great album, and the musicality of the tracks/production is something I don’t think think many other rap artists can match. Say what you will about Kanye, but he can sample better than any other artist I listen to with any kind of consistency. The other reason I like it is because I think it helps you understand why Mr. West is at the place (musically and at least in the life he chooses to show to the public) he’s at. I don’t necessarily condone him being an asshat at times, but listening to that first album (and Late Registration, as well) you get a sense of where he’s coming from. If you enjoy Kanye at all, I would suggest listening through his albums chronologically–it’s a fantastic character arc.

That’s what I love about art, really. It reveals the heart of who we are. I used to discount a lot of artists/genres because I would hear one song I didn’t like, the the more my tastes in music broaden, the more I find that there are admirable qualities to be found everywhere, even in things that tend not to spark my appreciation immediately. It takes time and consideration to really give music a fair shake.

I personally prefer vocally driven acoustic music that lean towards interesting harmonies; medium to slow tempo, often a little more melancholy. Right at this very moment I am listening to the acoustic version of “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens off of his album The Avalanche. It’s on my “Indie Singer-Songwriter” Pandora station and it is my favorite station that I have ever made. It’s funny how perfect this song is for what I’m describing. It’s like the prototypical song I would pick to say what my tastes are.

The point is that I like lots of different music (and so do you), and people should be more careful about making blanket statements about disliking certain genres/artists wholeheartedly, because it’s probably not true. There are exceptions to everything.

Back to Yeezy. Listening to College Dropout, I was struck by the fact that I could love the album and sympathize where he was coming from even when I have exactly zero reference for being a poor black person who didn’t fit well into college and has a gigantic chip on my shoulder. Art is beautiful because if it is done well it expresses the humanity of the artist and of the person experiencing the art. I always find it interesting when people say that they dislike rap–there is plenty of it that is objectionable, but at its heart it is poetry set to music. I absolutely love introspective rap music, or rap that you can tell is personal. When artists get away from rapping about money and sex (sometimes even when they don’t) and into things that are meaningful to them it can be as beautiful as anything by Andrea Gibson (who I also adore–she’s a slam poet. If you don’t know her, look her up).

I would imagine that most of my friends already know/think this, but it is fascinating to me that so many people are willing to be closed minded about music when they might find something really great. Branching out is a wonderful thing, and I try to listen to at least one new album a week if I can I find a way to pull myself out of my current musical rut ( I always get into them). That’s what’s great about Pandora–exposure to new stuff that is related to things you already like. If anyone ever wants to send me recommendations I would be more than happy to listen to them. And if anyone wants recommendations I can certainly attempt to be helpful.

I probably won’t be writing this weekend seeing as there are 4 divisional games to suck away my productivity, but I hope everyone has a great one!

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