Sunday, September 11, 2022

Emotional effects of Music

Musicians listen to music in numerous ways and for many reasons. Often, we are trying to educate ourselves, cram for a gig, or critique a student. Today, however, I'd like to talk about emotional listening. What was the first music that got you excited? Not necessarily excited about playing either, but just excited in general. A partial list of music that had this effect on me would be:

- "Roxanne" - The Police
-"Just What I Needed" - The Cars
- "Adagio For Strings"- Samuel Barber
- "Seven Steps to Heaven"- Miles Davis
- "After the Rain" - John Coltrane
- "Tomorrow Never Knows" - The Beatles
- "Two Folk Songs"- Pat Metheny 
-"Smokestack Lightning"- Howlin' Wolf

…and many more! What all this music did for me is that it elicited a strong response. Sometimes tears because it was so beautiful, other times it felt like i was going to jump out of my skin because I couldn't believe how cool it sounded! In many cases I can remember exactly where I was when I heard something for the first time. Notice that most of the music was recorded quite a while ago. As one gets older and more "sophisticated", (read jaded) it's harder to be gobsmacked by something one hears, especially if one is an active, studying, musician. So, I was quite pleased recently, while listening to a show on CBC that plays music I generally don't care for to hear this, and I immediately needed to find out more about them….

Now, this may not have remotely the same effect on someone else, and that's one of the coolest things about it. I can't explain why it hits me as hard as it does. It has a pretty melody and I really like the singer's voice, but there's an intangible "thing" that I can't explain, and I have no desire to either!

 Treasure any music that hits you on an emotional level, and don't deny any that affects you this way. It's not particularly cool in the Jazz community to like The Ramones as much as I do, but to try and "bury' any love of music that doesn't meet with the cognoscente's approval, feels dishonest and harmful. 

 If you're like me, all your "emotional" music experiences will inspire you to create sonic art that is honest and without artifice that may perhaps reach someone else in the same way. :) 

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