Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Stepping to a Different Beat

Growing up, I always figured that classical music was better than popular music. My parents were are some pains to help this inculcate this belief. The message was never so much that popular music was bad, but there was certainly a general impression given that it wasn't as worth while.

However, there was very little classical music that I was all that into. Much of it struck me as slow and boring. Sure, there was some that I enjoyed. Something with sufficient excitement in it like the 1812 Overture or Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky score or Holst's The Planets.

Through high school and even more so college, the only orchestral music I listed to tended to be movie sound tracks. And Brahms, for which I'd developed a taste, though no other classical composers interested me. Aside from that, I listed to all modern music: Cake, Smash Mouth, Barenaked Ladiews, Metallica, Creed, P.O.D., Coldplay, Dave Matthews' Band, The Beatles, you get the idea...

I think the style and themes of rock are inherently more appealing when you're in your teens and early twenties. Something is different in the speed with which you feel and think, and what you feel and think, that makes "rocking out" feel much more congenial than the more complex and subtle rhythms of classical music. (At this point, some purist may point out that "classical" music is really only stuff written between 1730 and 1820, but this person is being tiresome and can go shake their ears, because I'm not thinking of a better term at the moment.)

Somewhere along the line, however, something changed. It must have been at some point in the first year or so of our marriage, because I think I started to listen to classical music finally while commuting.

I hadn't made any particular effort to cultivate the like in quite some time, yet for whatever reason one day I flipped to the classical station and suddenly found classical music far more involving than I ever had before.

Again, I wonder if there's something that changed in the general tempo of my life, intellectual and physical that caused this to happen. Suddenly works which had seemed hopelessly "slow" and "quiet" such as Vaughan Williams and Debussy, or "fussy" such as Handel and baroque liturgical music seemed not only interesting but absorbing.

I haven't fully dropped popular music, though I don't listen to it as often as I used to. It's become something that only seems to fit with certain moods rather than being a constant underscore to life. And I find myself trying to curtail how much I listen to it around the kids, although they do have a few favorites, such as the Blues Traveller album they call the "angry cat".

I wonder how common this arc from more popular music in youth to more staid styles as you get older is. Goodness knows, I know a number of people much older than I am who remain fully engaged in the modern music scene. Yet, in my case at least, it seems very much a case of maturity causing a change in my listening habits that no amount of trying to appreciate classical music more when I was a teenager could achieve.

7 comments:

Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

My father had just a few records, and a couple of them were in the more classical vein. I tried to like them as they were his, but mostly found them too slow/boring. But I have come to love quite a lot of classical music in more recent years. And the "baroque" thing definitely works for me when I am studying... it helps me switch off from all the competing thoughts in my brain and slow down to study. I thought I would try it in my class though to see if it helped the children at quiet times. I have found that it doesn't usually: it makes them want to dance and chat. Maybe the 'wiring' in children's and adult's brains changes for music....

The Beatles still works for me, especially when I want some lively music while I do the housework!

PrayingTwice said...

Have you ever tried any vocal music from the Renaissance era (Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, Byrd)? This is the stuff that pushed me into a career in music . . .

Big Tex said...

As I've gotten older, I've grown in appreciation of classical music, especially music from the baroque period. Bach's Brandenburg Concertos (especially 1, 3, & 4) are some of my favorites.

I used to use classical music as a tool to fall asleep to. As a teen, I had an odd sense of music. There was quite the range, truthfully. Growing up in Dallas, we had a station called Z-Rock... a station specializing in metal (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax and even Gwar). However, there was also rap music. And it was not just your garden variety radio station stuff, but Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Eazy E and other profanity-laced music. (I must say, I've matured greatly since then.) As you can imagine, I was hooked when Anthrax released the I'm the Man EP (caution: link does not have family friendly lyrics, nor is it actually Anthrax in the video). I also liked it when they teamed up with Public Enemy.

Big Tex said...

Must apologize... one of the above links has some inappropriate imagery as well. D'oh!

Darwin said...

prayingtwice,

Oh definately plenty of Medieval, Renaissance and later Church music.

That's another one of those things that seemed far to slow to pay attention to ten years ago, which now holds by attention and fascinates.

big tex,

That gives you way more 'cred' than me... :)

Big Tex said...

Wow... I have "cred." Who'd of thunk?

Fidei Defensor said...

Darwin, how about some traditional Irish music? Not classical or rock but that stuff is fast and fun and springs from a Catholic culture. Even though a lot of it is about drinking kids seem to take to it well too!