Monday, April 8, 2019

How flexible are your ears?

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a post about learning how to wiggle your ears. ( Although I've always been jealous of people who can do that. )

                            Potentially an ear wiggler!

No, today I was going to talk about how we all tend to listen to all music in the same way, despite it's differences and the variety of things we can learn from it.

Example A
My theory teacher when I was an undergrad at McGill introduced me to this piece and I've loved it ever since. Check it out....

Now, what do I love about  the Hadyn Variations? Well, the orchestration is beautiful, it's a great way to learn about taking a musical theme and varying it, and the melody is very pretty. If I was listening for a deep funky groove, or lopsided rhythms, or electric instruments, I would be very disappointed.

Example B
This artist actually performed in my hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan when I was a teen and this represents a very compelling era of his music for me.

In this case, I really like the poetry of the lyrics, the groovy clavichord and percussion, and even the relative lo-fi of the recording. Super exotic instruments? Wild orchestrations? Nope. I actually know a couple of Jazz musicians I know and admire a lot who reject Reggae completely because it doesn't have many chord changes! Huh? And one of these people EVEN DOUBLES ON DRUMS!!! If you can't appreciate Sly Dunbar's fantastic drumming on this, I don't really know how to respond!

Finally, this is an artist I've listened to a lot, although I slept on this particular recording until recently

No, Paul Motian's music does not have blazing displays of technique, and in this case, much Bebop language or much of a tight groove. But, I'm not listening for those things so I can enjoy the deep improvisatory vibe, the beautiful instrumental colouring etc.

The point is, there's tons of great music to listen to, enjoy, and learn from as long as we don't view it all with the same expectations!!! Enjoy!

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