Assignment: Part one – review

Posted on April 28, 2012

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Part One – review

During the last few months, since starting this course, the way I enjoy music has gone through a rather profound change. Most importantly, my habit of passive listening has transformed into a set of activities which includes reading and thinking about music as well as researching and reviewing my musical experiences. However, I realised that it is difficult to write about such an ethereal phenomenon and it took me some time to figure out how to start. In the same time, I am not in any hurry with my course and I genuinely enjoyed my time spent studying.
By doing the One week in music and Definition of music exercises I realised the obvious, i.e. the more thoroughly music involves different parts of the mind and body (sensations, feelings, thoughts and movements), the more I enjoy it. For example, I started to listen attentively to the sounds of musical instruments and it filled me with fascination to read about them. However, nothing compared to the feeling of getting the first clear sounds out of an Andean quena flute by myself, after days of frustration and obsessive trials. I learned about instruments previously unknown to me, such as the Hang and the Cora and I intend to continue my “research” for new sounds. Also, learning about the life and social context of a composer, as I did while listening to the string quartets of Shostakovich, and getting some insight into the structure and ideas behind the music has made the experience very different, deeper and richer compared to the passive immersion into the stream of the sounds. I find it easier to relate to twentieth century music and composers, compared to those from earlier centuries. Although I thoroughly enjoy the music of Mozart, I realised that words don’t come easy to me when I try to talk about it.
I have long admired folk music, listening to Southern American, African, Oriental and Native American music, but this was the first time I dag into the cultural background behind one. I had the pleasure to learn about Tuva throat singing and it helped me better understand the origins of music and the basic elements that can make music sound beautiful. Similarly, the music of Terry Riley gave me an insight into complexity and originality emerging from basic musical elements. His music is also a great example of western and Indian music merging into something radically new and inspiring.
Listening to musical genres such as pop and rap helped me to improve critical thinking. My impression is that money, i.e. the dollar millions earned by some musicians, can be the biggest enemy of quality and originality. While there are many examples of great popular songs based on true inspiration and creativity, the media is overloaded with sounds engineered to match marketing rules, providing little, if any, novelty or fun.
I would also like to mention about less serious or completely silly music – they are keys to some of my best memories in life.

The Muppet Show – Sax and Violence:

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Posted in: Part 1