Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Silence is golden

Online, via chat, forums, or social networks, I've had little to say about music, to the extent on more than a few occasions I've been pointedly asked if I liked it at all. A strange question you might think, given it's omnipresence in all of our lives, so much so, I'm sure, most of us take its importance as read. Though I'm a little concerned for some, who I've heard express their love for music in the most extreme terms [and usually, histrionic manner]: "I would just DIE without my music!". A little excessive I think, though I get their point; but I have to remark that pre-twentieth century, the majority of people on this planet had access to little if any music, most certainly on an individual and private basis, and yet, somehow, despite this tragic omission from their lives, they somehow coped. Ahem... anyway...

I've said little about music because I learned a long time ago how personal it is. I found no matter how great an impact a particular piece of music or song made on me, I invariably failed when I tried to impress others of it's greatness: "yeah, that's okay", they'd say, "but listen to this... how fucking great is that?". But alas, in turn, in a similar manner, I'd fail to enthuse. Eventually, it sunk in: maybe it's not so much that music has inherent qualities for us all to agree on and share in, perhaps it's primarily about us as individuals, our particular psychology, our personal history. To put it succinctly (and to demonstrate once again, I know longish words): taste is largely idiosyncratic.

This is why, on social network profiles, I smile and at the same time get irritated, when I see long, long lists of a persons musical preferences (the same is done with books and movies). Does anyone truly believe that you can tell ANYTHING about a person by knowing the music he or she likes? Liking similar tracks, books, or movies is coincidence, and has as much significance as having a liking for bananas or a favourite colour. In my experience, you like someone despite their tastes. Personality I'm sure, is not culture-dependent.

Not that I'm leaving this post without paying a little lip-service to my "musical history", and "history" it is, as the musical content was impossible to evaluate. I'm talking of a Beatles concert I attended, circa 1965 (yes, I'm that old). Courtesy of two girl "friends", who queued all night for tickets, I was able to go witness this historic event. I heard little, apart from a few snatches of the verse in "Nowhere Man" (the tour was in part, promoting their new album, Rubber Soul), but it was nevertheless, an experience. And before you ask the question, no, I didn't scream!

So... music and I? I believe myself to have have wide eclectic tastes, having no preferences genre-wise. Indeed, when it comes to live music, I'm happy to watch a virtuoso performance on the spoons. But then, very often, live music is something else, and is arguably less about the music and more to do with tribalism, quasi-religion, or at the very least, fulfilling the need to "belong". But that's another argument...

For those of you who know anything about musical notation, you'll know all music is punctuated by pauses of varying lengths, and in it's own way, a pause is a peculiar kind of note; so It's fair to say, silence is an integral part of music. I'm sure if you were to take out these gaps, what would be left would be noise, plain and simple. Which brings me to my point: come on folks, let's hear it for that much misunderstood and much-maligned phenomenon, silence.

I'd just DIE without silence.

Silent Music.


Michelle said...

I don't usually write too much about music, or put too much details of what I'm into in those particular boxes where one is supposed to put those details either.. partly because I don't know what to put.. I'll think of different stuff at any particular point in time for my favourites.. and partly because.. I dunno, just don't want to write that stuff down.

I think you can tell a little bit about people from what kind of music they like.. you can tell what kind of music they like.. and well.. sometimes what sort of subculture or well sometimes you can tell a bit.. not a lot, and certainly not enough to judge people on not that you should ever do that.. and remember I said that..

um.. as for books and stuff well, possibly you can tell a bit, maybe slightly more than about the music due to.. something, it might be enough to think.. hey, this person might be interesting to talk to.. and then, well, you'll see. And of course all the people who's lists you read and say.. boring! Totes not talking to them! could be an opportunity missed.. but what do you do..

I think I'll shut up now. From what I've heard you appreciate that sort of thing :)

Ronald said...

Haha! Love the ending... smart arse!

Anyway, you're right, you can have a stab at assessing someone, and make general inferences from this kind of information, but from my own experience, the people in my life I like the best, tend to like stuff I'd not bother with ordinarily. I will say though, humour is the possible exception here. I think it will suffice to say, if you can't laugh together, you won't stay together.

Pst! Did my email alert work? It will be the first post, and so there will be one or two edits made since you received it, but by and large, it's the same. Woot!

Michelle said...

Good point.. the humour thing.. definitely a big thing with me.

And yes, your email alerts are working.. in fact.. I think I just got one!

*clicks on main page*

Anonymous said...

I like silence. It's very rare to get total silence, you know, the kind when you hear absolutely nothing. Not even the wind or bird singing or anything. It's pretty quiet here, but total silence is not something that happens all the time. When it does, you just have to stop and listen. Even your own breathing seems too much noise then. The problem is of course that after a minute or so you start to get dizzy from not breathing...

What do you think about those who say that they can't do anything if the music is not on? Do you reckon they are scared of their own thoughts?

Ronald said...

Thanks for that Sari, I'm sure it's quite an experience, especially in the winter. I sure do envy you eskimos... arf! I bet you can hear a polar bear fart from three miles away on a real quite day.

All I can say to your question is to point you back to the post - what did people do before the advent of radios and hi-fis? Get their friends to clatter on dustbins, pots and pans, accompanied by humming, just to provide a background of noise?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is quite a rumble! I won't mention the smell though. Do you know the speed the smell travels on the frozen tundra? The mind boggles, I'm telling you :)

Cool batty picture by the way.