ennui with regard to music. losing interest in pop (latest trends, boy/girl bands, sure, but deeper than that — heard it all before). but resistant to easy answers of more “complex” music (classical, jazz). (Explain why they’re both so unsatisfying: classical, because it’s so consonant; jazz because it’s so random.)
This is a weird kind of confessional about musical tastes. Don’t join me unless you’re willing to go along and give me the benefit of the doubt for a minute that my worries are real.
Here’s the problem: I have long long long been into popular music and anti- elite music. This despite the fact that I did have some short schooling at one point in classical composition, etc. But I have always always been more into the (recorded) raw pop form du jour than symphonic music or even jazz. This was early enough (and I am old enough) that it was pre-punk-rock rock at first, then it was punk rock, then it was that nicely mixed up period right after that, then it was early hiphop, then (slowing due to age) it was all the nicely mixed up stuff that followed, but with only an occasional enthusiasm. Always, though, I was into singer-songwriters (broadly defined) — what a woman I knew dismissed as “wordy music”, correctly. This is not like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan necessarily (though I love them both), but also Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, Prince. But it wasn’t just the wordy ones I liked — I also needed the sonic, textural, in-your-face attitude: the Iggy and the Stooges, early Bowie. The funk (James Brown, Parliament), that crazy-happy marriage of funk and popsong in the 70s (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), the crunchy [finish this sentence].
And I used to get into arguments with classical or jazz elitists, and realized that there’s definitely a technique to doing that. It’s important not to get defensive, and it’s important not get cranky and say unfortunate things like “Oh yeah? well at least it’s not fucking _boring_ like what _you_ like to listen to!”. Just blandly say “yeah, well, it’s a really different aesthetic, so it will be hard to compare what we like, or even talk about it”. This will most likely set them back a bit, because [[ argue that they’re so used to their aesthetic dominating that
And it’s actually true — “classical” music is in fact a much more culturally contingent thing than its proponents would have you believe. It’s a particular musical form that has several centuries worth of roots in Europe, starting of course with Christian church music. It’s had particular instrumental ensembles, particular practices with asdfasdfasdfasddf. And to criticize it within its _own_ language (melody/harmony/rhythm/timbre): it has really complicated long-term harmonic structures, somewhat complex melody, very simple and uninflected rhythms, and timbres severely limited by the technology available during the common practice period. In its defense, it hasn’t _always_ been as fucking boring in performance as it is now; while audiences are now constrained to be as silent as possible while sitting on their hands and trying desperately to neither fart nor cough, as recently as 100 years ago “classical” concerts had drinking, booing, brawling, riots and all the other things that make it possible for some of us to look forward to an evening out.
Ask yourself the following question: if we still have universities and music departments in the year 2300, will whoever is responsible for