Forum Home Forum Home > Progressive Music Lounges > Prog Blogs
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Learn to listen, listen to learn...
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Topic ClosedLearn to listen, listen to learn...

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123>
Author
Message
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Topic: Learn to listen, listen to learn...
    Posted: July 17 2008 at 14:11
A little while ago I made a post here about the little soundbite-worthy salient aspects of personal musical taste.  Well, I'm back again (uh... yeah.  Sorry about that...), and I hope this post makes some kind of sense... it's a little jumbled, so I hope you'll bear with me! Embarrassed  Basically, let's pull our focus outwards from such minutiae as musical tags, to the cosmic scale...

I hope you'll forgive my incoherent flights of fancy with this post.  My brain is a little mushy, owing to lack of sleep... Embarrassed Sleepy

Anyway, the subject of my current ramblement is... listening styles, and where they come from.  Let's be clumsy and heavy-handed and divide the human race up into two very simplistic categories of listener: the 'Music Consumer' and the 'Participant Listener'.  If you are on here, I'm guessing that you are a 'Participant Listener', by which I mean that you do not just sit there and absorb music as if your ears and mind were made of auditory blotting paper - you meet it halfway with all kinds of thoughts, feelings, ideas, inspirations, weird mental tangents, etc.  And your listening equipment can cope with things that sound unfamiliar, or unconventional (in fact, you probably quite like that!).  You may be at the point in your life when you can hear something pretty obscure for the first time and just, well, 'get it'.  Or at least you have the experience to know that patience and repeated listening helps with those things.  I don't reckon any of this has much to do with age or gender - from what I can tell, social stereotypes of that sort fall apart in the presence of this kind of music.

So, with that preamble concluded, here's the main question of the post:

Is your super-epyck-fantastique music-listening ability an innate gift, or a skill you have learned?

I don't mean your *ability to enjoy music* in a general sense - of course that is hardwired into almost all human beings - here I'm talking about the conscious application of ears and brain to the business of deciphering something that cannot necessarily be appreciated as 'aural wallpaper'.  (Forget music as background - to my mind that is like preferring chewing gum to proper food...)

Going back to those broad categories, I think many people see listening as a passive experience, and perhaps that is just what many people are used to.  For many, music is just there to ameliorate silence, rather like a nice shade of paintwork enlivens your living room wall...  But there is a huge difference between the almost subliminal awareness of a nice colour and the curiosity and engagement you might feel if you looked at an interesting painting.  In order to wring more than the obvious visual pleasure out of the experience of looking at a painting, we need to use responses of a higher order than just recognising colours and straightforwardly figurative shapes, and it's just the same with music.

So that's the area I'm interested in with this post.  Now for a rephrasing of the actual question: have you always felt able to turn your consciousness towards an onslaught of music (reasonably complex music, at that) and discern things in it, or is this something you have learned how to do?  Do you feel as though the straightforward and obvious would never have been enough for you, and that you would have sought out 'something more' whatever happened, or was the world beyond the Top 40 a blinding revelation to you, that you never expected?

Whilst you're mulling that one over, permit me to throw in a handful of observations about the appreciation of unusual/complex/weird/clever music - including but not limited to the 'progressive' sort...

One...  Often - indeed, more often than not - people that like music that is something more than 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' seem to be musicians themselves, covering a spectrum from enthusiastic amateur dabblers (like yours truly!) to bona fide prodigies (I'm guessing there might be a few of them around here...).  Not just musicians following someone else's black dots, either - but songwriters, composers, tuneslingers of all makes and models.  Within that broad spectrum I include everyone from those who have always made up songs, informally and untutored, ever since they can remember, to those who decided at around 14 years of age that The Guitar was Their Sword (or possibly The Drums were Their Fusillade) Tongue; not forgetting those who have a proper musical education and write tone poems and suchlike... Big%20smile  Obviously, any kind of personal perspective on musical idea generation - where that creative stuff comes from - would give you a shortcut to empathising with whoever wrote that complicated and eccentric piece you are listening to.  It seems to me that empathy is essential with music (although I wonder whether that's just me being me, but let's not start up another conversation about personality types... LOL) - music is language, it communicates feelings more directly than any word (of course, those feelings may be as simple as "Hey ladies.  Hear me play this guitar solo so damn fast.  I am nimble of digit like you wouldn't believe.  Rawr.  Call me!" Wink).  But of course, it's also an abstract pattern.  Perhaps I'm mistaken and you don't need to be a touchy-feely girlcreature to enjoy it - maybe there's enough elegant mathematics in there to please the most pathologically masculine psyche!  Anyway, any and all of the above could be relevant I guess, as to your lauded status as 'Participant Listener'...

One b. ...  Let's take this point a little further.  What is your brain doing with the musical data that you are hearing?  As a musician and/or composer, are you somehow better able to decode things that are musically less than obvious?  My guess on that would be 'yes'.  Of course, you will probably be better at decoding the obvious stuff as well!  (The other day I was listening to my boyfriend singing along tunelessly to something or other, and I was suddenly filled with curiosity as to what was going on in his brain.  (Female readers with male partners: allow yourselves one knowing sigh in response to this common everyday occurrence! Wink)  When you try to sing, how hard do you try, what are you trying for exactly, how is it that some people just innately know the placement of the semitones and tones that make up the scales of our musical culture, whilst some others are all over the place...  Trying to relate this to my own experience, I'm suddenly thinking now about spelling and grammar.  I'm a good speller (most of the time!  I really must sort out those reviews of mine that have typos, it's so annoying!!), who generally doesn't have to try on that score.  I can also sing in tune without toil (or at least, be aware of when I'm not in tune, which is half the battle, really...).  Is that the same sort of territory?  The same kind of weird and wonderful spatial/structural awareness for sounds and... meanings of sounds? Confused  Damn, I want to be a neurospsychologist when I grow up! Geek[Haha, it is always the way that to boast of one's spelling prowess leads directly to a spelling mistake! Embarrassed LOL]

Two...  I recently realised something about myself, something that really surprised me.  I like a decent amount of dissonant creepiness with music. Evil%20Smile  That's not to say that I'm going to devote the contents of my ipod to Funeral Doom or nothin'. Dead LOL  But cutesy, sugary, laid-back, pastoral, gentle, trippy, etc., are tags that generally put me off.  Now, I don't want to generalise too appallingly here - there is nothing wrong with music that 'sounds nice', and there is plenty of music that is complicated, different and pleasant at the same time, but is it possible that the majority of casual music listeners (as opposed to hardcore musos) would rather listen to something undemandingly pretty than something astringent and gritty (to coin a witless rhyme!)?  Again, don't think I'm being a snob.  Whatever floats your canoe, I say. Big%20smile  But I think this is true of other areas of 'art appreciation', too.  A nice watercolour of the English countryside is great, and more than satisfactory to many people.  At the opposite end of the scale is the pseud who wants to stand in front of a conceptual representation of Woman's Eternal Pain (for example!), rubbing his/her chin and going "Hmmm..." Tongue  I guess what I'm saying is that there is another spectrum in here - the one in which some people want ease, comfort and immediate understanding of everything that is being communicated, whilst in the far opposite reaches of the continuum, there are people who like to torture themselves with controversial issues, quadruple meanings, or even the awful question "But is it art...?"...! Confused

Two b. ...  Of course I should acknowledge here that there is more to music than musical content alone - especially popular music!  There is the whole question of identity and culture as well, a way of defining yourself by your choice in music, a shared experience/activity with all kinds of relevance way beyond what key and time signature it's in...  But my experience of musical enjoyment has largely been solitary, Cry however much I'd like it to open the door to some kind of commonality with others, and I'd hazard a guess that this is true for many people around here, so I'll leave the 'communal identity' bit to one side, I think!

Three...  It is a well known phenomenon that people who would never think to listen to lengthy, serious, less-than-straightforwardly-tuneful instrumental music are often perfectly happy to absorb an hour or two of contemporary composition via a movie soundtrack.  Somehow, the presence of a visual makes it ok - relevant to something they are experiencing, perhaps, rather than an intrusion on their worldview.  Or perhaps they would just find it boring without the moving picture to keep them occupied...  That's an interesting point, actually - forget what interests you for a moment: where do you find your boredom?!  Are you bored by simplicity or by complexity?  By too much niceness, or too much angst?  Maybe that's the key... Shocked  (Also, doesn't it seem like all 'serious artists' feel obliged to do a silent movie score at some point...?! LOL)

Anyway, let's bring this steaming heap of awful waffle back round to the original point. Tongue  All of the above is fair enough, but where does it come from?  Are you a born musofreak, or was your passion forged in the fire of your experiences?!  Were you doomed from the outset to this life of ceaselessly searching for that obscure album that you simply must hear - and when you hear it, spending hours thinking about it, even possibly writing about it... or is all this a 'lifestyle choice' that you consciously embarked upon?

Enquiring minds want to know. Ermm Tongue

Edited by song_of_copper - July 20 2008 at 12:31
Back to Top
Logan View Drop Down
Forum & Site Admin Group
Forum & Site Admin Group
Avatar
Forum Moderator

Joined: April 05 2006
Location: Utopia
Status: Offline
Points: 14575
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2008 at 14:29
Great post, and unfortunately too many distractions at the moment to post something half-way intelligent or comment on much of the post.  It's surely both nature and nurture for me when it comes to my music-listening abilities.  Part of it is based on experience, and part of it comes from my genes.

 
"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views" (Doctor Who - The Face of Evil, Jan 22, 1977).
Back to Top
Alucard View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: September 10 2004
Location: France
Status: Offline
Points: 3888
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2008 at 14:40
 ....in fact this is also one of my often returning questions : where does it come from :....I spend a couple of days with the young kids of a friend and the creative output is just amazing....so as for myself ....in the house where I grew up lived quite a lot of musicians among them a hardbob quintet who played in the cellar and for a long time I just fall asleep to the sound of hardbop and jazz is kind of a natural rhythm to me ....then  I always felt let's say Bartok & Zappa as the most groovy and funky music around... I find it much  more easy to dance to 'Inca Roads' then  'Dancing Queen'.... might be some kind of pre-birth experience or genetic material? the rhythmic perception is linked to the heartbeat and a lot of "primitive" danceforms are actually 100% Prog in tems of rhythmic complexity....a regular 4/4 beat is in a way completely un-natrural and mechanic.....so "freakiness" is always a metter of context....in the middle of an hungarian dance ensemble a regular 4/4 stomper will be the freak while...very interesting topic ....much more to say , but I have to run....
 
 


Edited by Alucard - July 17 2008 at 14:41
Tadpoles keep screaming in my ear
"Hey there! Rotter's Club!
Explain the meaning of this song and share it"

Back to Top
MikeDupont View Drop Down
Forum Groupie
Forum Groupie


Joined: December 26 2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 63
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2008 at 16:52
 very nice post! Boy would i like to have a 1 on 1 conversation with you in person :P But I honestly think it does takes both a bit of born curiosity and training to learn how to like many of these "progressive" bands. The people who do seem to enjoy music like magma, or certain krautrock bands, or whatever, are the people who are able to apply it to a stereotype rite off the bat. They may think its like music that "smart people listen to" or its "trippy" or is the music that the dungeons and dragons kids listen to.  Perhaps they think its all science fiction and fantasy etc. etc etc. And so a lot of people prob. don't it for the MUSICAL pleasures, but rather the atmosphere and the picture the music creates in a stereotypical sense.

When I listen to Gong for example, my friend thinks i listen to it only to be different and act like i do drugs and stuff. Not the case! (infact im against drugs)  I just listen to music like that cause I like the Jazzy influences mixed with mellotron and an ironic sense of humor. This is just one band example, when I listen to VDGG, another friend thinks im just listening to it to be overlly pessimstic or be filled with agnst, but honestly I often prefer what the rest of the band is doing rather than Hammil's lyrics. (not that those are bad!)

So yea, acctually enjoying music for the music side of it...takes a certain amount of training...but some people indeed are born with the want for "something more"
Back to Top
TGM: Orb View Drop Down
Prog Reviewer
Prog Reviewer
Avatar

Joined: October 21 2007
Status: Offline
Points: 8021
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2008 at 18:12
"Is your super-epyck-fantastique music-listening ability an innate gift, or a skill you have learned?"

Bit of both really. An innate willingness to try things beyond the beaten track, a (*modest voice*) highly intellectual outlook, and an inherent dislike of the overwhelming majority of chart material, rap etc. led me to 'prog' in the first place. However, at first, having virtually no real listening experience, I couldn't really understand the depth, musicianship and why it was so brilliant. Much as I loved my early prog acquisitions from getting them, coming back to them now, I'm aware of so much more that's going on (especially the bass parts).

After a year and a bit of serious listening time, I've become a much deeper listener, and I do tend to look for multiple ways to enjoy things. I'm definitely more instantly receptive to more 'out there' stuff, and I can hear a hell of a lot more of what's going on. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (aka. Best album ever) wasn't an obvious favourite at the start, though I liked it. Now it is.

so, to the point... I suppose I had a natural tendency to take things seriously and listen more actively and imaginatively than most would, but it's only after combining that with a fair bit of listening experience that I could really use that inclination to fully enjoy my music. I have no doubt that I'll enjoy it even more as I begin to understand even more about it.

1. I'm not a musician per se. Learning piano/electronic organ to get a basic understanding of something musical, but I'm still very rudimentary. Can't help there. Perhaps that's the tendency in reverse: wanting to learn an instrument to better understand what I listen to.

2. I'm pretty out there on both ends of the 'prog' spectrum. I can listen to a bit of Magma or Amon Duul as happily as to something like Genesis, Dire Straits or Asia. Several of my favourite tunes clock in under 5 minutes (shock, horror). I can go quite far out in my other artistic interests, too, though perhaps not as far, but I think the other art forms tend to shock less than music when they are very unconventional.

2b. I like to think I'm a rebel. Noone else does.

3. Repetitive basslines a la Camel's Lunar Sea bore me. Otherwise, as long as there's variety, I don't really mind anything overmuch. I think there are less expectations in wait for what a movie soundtrack will be, and the visuals are so dominant for most films that focus is withdrawn from the soundtrack.

Great topic Thumbs%20Up
Back to Top
Dean View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Retired Admin and Amateur Layabout

Joined: May 13 2007
Location: Europe
Status: Offline
Points: 37331
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 17 2008 at 20:18

Another excellent blogette Miss M. Thumbs%20Up

I don't believe you can educate people to appreciate music beyond a certain level – the ‘height’ of this barrier varies from person to person, but is intrinsic and immovable. In other words, people are born with a natural potential and through learning can achieve that potential, but cannot reach beyond it. Of course, this ability is not one-dimensional or simply defined; it is complex and has many facets, which is why some can listen to repetitive drone and detect the subtleties while some can listen to technical-flash and admire the virtuosity and some can do both while others can manage neither. So even if you learn how to listen, the ability to do it was always there, to quote Doris Lessing: “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”
In the personality test thread it is evident that a significant majority of us are in the IN-- category (Introvert & Intuitive) - the key there is not the Introversion, which I think is possibly more indicative of the type of people who frequent forums, but the Intuitiveness that says we instinctively ‘get’ abstraction, so unconsciously relate what we are listening to above it’s entertainment value; so some have that innate ability to hear something dissonant and arrhythmic and associate it in context and therefore not dismiss it as unmusical while others can carry a melody from one section of a multi-part epic into another and recognise the variances (again often at a subconscious level) as being more than just simple repetition.
(Of course if this IN-- personality trait was a generalised prerequisite to liking Progressive Rock then only 11% of the population stands any chance of ever liking it Shocked).
I cannot class myself as a musician as such I freely admit to not being a musician; I am inept at playing any musical instrument and my singing skills are negligible; I have no formal musical education and everything I now know I learnt as I went along. So I do not possess the ability to analyse music to the nth degree like some of the people here can. Yet I do make music, something a started doing very late in life after many years of being a listener, (whether this music has value to ears other than mine is not something I can judge or comment on), so from my own point of view I’d say that any ability to create music stems from the innate ability to listen to it rather than the other way around.
 
(to put things into perspective, I'm currently listening to a Enya tribute album Embarrassed)
"You know what uranium is, right?
It’s this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that."
Back to Top
VanderGraafKommandöh View Drop Down
Prog Reviewer
Prog Reviewer
Avatar

Joined: July 04 2005
Location: Malaria
Status: Offline
Points: 89372
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 01:25
A wonderful blog, Melissa.  One I also cannot help but think I had some part in... i.e. your thoughts held over from out chat in the wee hours of the morning. Wink

As for the subject matter to hand... my brain is not functioning as well as it should, at this time of the morning, so I may have better thoughts when I am more coherent.

I only play Harmonica slightly well (or slightly bad) and also do not class myself as a musician.  I could not pick out time signatures and/or notes that well.

Like Dean, I feel "my prog passion" comes from an innate ability to listen to technical music.

Not all musicians like prog, some even hate it.  Some may be saying this to rebel against and appear "cool" and some may genuinely have a dislike for (to their mind) "pretentious" music played by musicians with over-inflated egos.

I personally like a wide variance of music and I am always seeking something new and unique.  I tend to do this with other aspects of life too.  I like to discover a really good piece of original prose, for example.

However, relating to the "abstract" comments, I personally dislike most modern abstract art and just cannot see anything good in some random (again, they're not random to others) painted wavy/straight lines on a canvas.  However, I put this down to not having a vivid enough imagination and not particularly having an interest in art.

Music is different though.  Art in Music, especially abstract art in music, usually "clicks" for me.  However, some musical artforms, such as Noise and also the music of composers, such as Iancu Dumitrescu, leave me scratching my head.  Music needs to have a bit of progression, as well as a bit of a melody (not much of one though).  Ambient music usually bores me to tears and I always seek something heavier or more avant-garde.  In fact, my disdain for ambient music goes so far, even a Reiki CD irritates me (it's supposed to be calming LOL) and so I try to get something familiar that I enjoy, stuck in my head to counteract it.

Dean makes a good point about the IN-- Myers-Briggs Personality Types too.  I do think that Introvertness does have a key part to do with it though.  Those of us who are less active in socialdom tend to do more constructive things with our time, or we read and/or listen to music.  The latter two can often be attributed to intellect (but not specifically, of course) as well.  Does Intellect (which I feel is immeasurable) and Introvertness correlate?  Maybe.

I also feel Introvertness is mapped out at a young age.  Perhaps it's genetic, perhaps it's more linked into how one subconsciously initially perceives the world as a baby.  Those who are introspective may therefore have deeper emotional feelings and seek out music for emotions, rather than technical abilities.

People listen to different music for many different reasons.  As somebody else said, someone can maybe dance to Dancing Queen because of its beat, melody and general happy feel it brings them but others of us can dance to something dissonant and repetitive, because it uplifts us in another way.

Extroverted people (I would say...) are likely too busy with their lives to fully immerse themselves in technical music.  They are probably more likely to just want to socialise and listen to the odd tune when they have the time.  That is obviously not always the case though.

It is a fascinating subject and one I shall have to think more about when I'm not thinking of my rumbling stomach.

Well done, M. Clap  That is certainly one finely crafted and well thought out blog.

EDIT: I have not read over what I have just written, so it may make no sense whatsoever!


Edited by James - July 18 2008 at 01:29
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 12:39
Originally posted by Alucard Alucard wrote:

 ....in fact this is also one of my often returning questions : where does it come from :....I spend a couple of days with the young kids of a friend and the creative output is just amazing....so as for myself ....in the house where I grew up lived quite a lot of musicians among them a hardbob quintet who played in the cellar and for a long time I just fall asleep to the sound of hardbop and jazz is kind of a natural rhythm to me ....then  I always felt let's say Bartok & Zappa as the most groovy and funky music around... I find it much  more easy to dance to 'Inca Roads' then  'Dancing Queen'.... might be some kind of pre-birth experience or genetic material? the rhythmic perception is linked to the heartbeat and a lot of "primitive" danceforms are actually 100% Prog in tems of rhythmic complexity....a regular 4/4 beat is in a way completely un-natrural and mechanic.....so "freakiness" is always a metter of context....in the middle of an hungarian dance ensemble a regular 4/4 stomper will be the freak while...very interesting topic ....much more to say , but I have to run....
 
 

Haha, a man after my own heart!  Dancing to 'Inca Roads': I've so been there. LOL  (Mind you, I've probably danced to 'Dancing Queen' as well... er... Embarrassed)

I'm sure you're right about childhood exposure playing an important part, although thinking about the music that got played in my house when I was little, I'm not sure whether that's so true for me personally.  (The most played LP was... The Carpenters greatest hits! LOL)  I envy you your hardbop lullabies!

What you say about 4/4 being 'unnatural' suddenly makes me think of the word 'boundaries'.  Maybe the simpler/more square the rhythm, the clearer the boundaries are - and some people will like that, some won't.  The balance between enough 'boundedness' and enough freedom is probably quite important to individual musical taste...
Back to Top
VanderGraafKommandöh View Drop Down
Prog Reviewer
Prog Reviewer
Avatar

Joined: July 04 2005
Location: Malaria
Status: Offline
Points: 89372
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 12:51
Originally posted by song_of_copper song_of_copper wrote:


Haha, a man after my own heart!  Dancing to 'Inca Roads': I've so been there. LOL  (Mind you, I've probably danced to 'Dancing Queen' as well... er... Embarrassed)

I'm sure you're right about childhood exposure playing an important part, although thinking about the music that got played in my house when I was little, I'm not sure whether that's so true for me personally.  (The most played LP was... The Carpenters greatest hits! LOL)  I envy you your hardbop lullabies!

What you say about 4/4 being 'unnatural' suddenly makes me think of the word 'boundaries'.  Maybe the simpler/more square the rhythm, the clearer the boundaries are - and some people will like that, some won't.  The balance between enough 'boundedness' and enough freedom is probably quite important to individual musical taste...


There was a program about The Carpenters on BBC Four the other day, including two of their concerts and mucho respect to them.  Some of their songs weren't too bad! Big%20smile


Edited by James - July 18 2008 at 12:51
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 12:55
Originally posted by MikeDupont MikeDupont wrote:

 very nice post! Boy would i like to have a 1 on 1 conversation with you in person :P But I honestly think it does takes both a bit of born curiosity and training to learn how to like many of these "progressive" bands. The people who do seem to enjoy music like magma, or certain krautrock bands, or whatever, are the people who are able to apply it to a stereotype rite off the bat. They may think its like music that "smart people listen to" or its "trippy" or is the music that the dungeons and dragons kids listen to.  Perhaps they think its all science fiction and fantasy etc. etc etc. And so a lot of people prob. don't it for the MUSICAL pleasures, but rather the atmosphere and the picture the music creates in a stereotypical sense.

Haha, yes indeed, I wish I could have a musical conversation of this sort in 'real life'! Tongue  Re. what you say about stereotypes, I guess that ties in with the stuff I glossed over (about aligning yourself with a 'tribe'/using music as a social cue as to your identity, etc.).  Re. Magma, of course that is what smart people listen to. Wink LOL  Haha, well, maybe...  Some music (certainly Magma) comes as a package with *other stuff that isn't music* - ideas, attitudes, that sort of thing.  It may be difficult to truly 'get' or enjoy it if you find the attendant *other stuff* not to your liking.  (It's interesting to see how many people seem kind of morally outraged by the very idea of Kobaian, for example. Shocked LOL)

When I listen to Gong for example, my friend thinks i listen to it only to be different and act like i do drugs and stuff. Not the case! (infact im against drugs)  I just listen to music like that cause I like the Jazzy influences mixed with mellotron and an ironic sense of humor. This is just one band example, when I listen to VDGG, another friend thinks im just listening to it to be overlly pessimstic or be filled with agnst, but honestly I often prefer what the rest of the band is doing rather than Hammil's lyrics. (not that those are bad!)

You know, that kind of phenomenon tends to be true of music you're not quite sure of/don't like.  The stuff about 'oh, it's lame music for stoners' or 'only pretentious morons listen to that'... that's usually an after-the-fact justification of some innate negative response - or a response to the image, rather than the actual music itself.  It's the same kind of thing as when people respond to clever marketing, but believe they bought Product X because it's better than Product Y. Big%20smile  It's really easy to make those assumptions, but I've had a few of them confounded of late.  I don't think I'll ever call any music 'pretentious' ever again...

So yea, acctually enjoying music for the music side of it...takes a certain amount of training...but some people indeed are born with the want for "something more"

I firmly believe that with some music, you kind of have to 'want to like it' to get past the barrier of it being totally unlike anything you've heard before.  If you get exposed to a variety of different musical norms and forms, then your 'familiarity landscape' expands hugely, making it much easier for you to 'get' unusual music.  The perseverance/curiosity required to do that may be something that's hardwired, who knows...
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 13:11
Originally posted by TGM: Orb TGM: Orb wrote:

"Is your super-epyck-fantastique music-listening ability an innate gift, or a skill you have learned?"

Bit of both really. An innate willingness to try things beyond the beaten track, a (*modest voice*) highly intellectual outlook, and an inherent dislike of the overwhelming majority of chart material, rap etc. led me to 'prog' in the first place. However, at first, having virtually no real listening experience, I couldn't really understand the depth, musicianship and why it was so brilliant. Much as I loved my early prog acquisitions from getting them, coming back to them now, I'm aware of so much more that's going on (especially the bass parts).

Oh, yes - this I agree with.  I knew full well when I wrote the original post that 'both' was the correct answer... but it's really interesting to read people's experiences and ideas on this topic! Big%20smile

I like what you wrote about going back and listening to familiar music from a fresh/more experienced perspective.  'Musical culture' doesn't only cover style but also what it is normal to focus on when listening.  If the prevailing style you're used to hearing is all about vocals and the occasional guitar solo, you might find it difficult to orientate yourself in some instrumental piece that's all about synthesisers, or whatever.  Because of what I've been hearing lately, my ears have swapped focus to the drums and bass.  I heard one of my favourite songs the other day and started noticing percussiony bits that I hadn't really paid attention to before.  It's like my 'mental surround sound system' has been tweaked... LOL


After a year and a bit of serious listening time, I've become a much deeper listener, and I do tend to look for multiple ways to enjoy things. I'm definitely more instantly receptive to more 'out there' stuff, and I can hear a hell of a lot more of what's going on. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (aka. Best album ever) wasn't an obvious favourite at the start, though I liked it. Now it is.

It's funny how certain things start out seeming so weird, but as you get really familiar with them, it's almost 'easy listening' to you!  (I mean that in a good way...)  I find it difficult sometimes to imagine what certain things might sound like to someone with totally different taste to mine.  Things that I think are devilishly melodic and catchy send some people running from the room in tears. Wink

so, to the point... I suppose I had a natural tendency to take things seriously and listen more actively and imaginatively than most would, but it's only after combining that with a fair bit of listening experience that I could really use that inclination to fully enjoy my music. I have no doubt that I'll enjoy it even more as I begin to understand even more about it.

This sounds pretty familiar to me. Big%20smile

1. I'm not a musician per se. Learning piano/electronic organ to get a basic understanding of something musical, but I'm still very rudimentary. Can't help there. Perhaps that's the tendency in reverse: wanting to learn an instrument to better understand what I listen to.

An excellent point that I hadn't thought of. Thumbs%20Up

2. I'm pretty out there on both ends of the 'prog' spectrum. I can listen to a bit of Magma or Amon Duul as happily as to something like Genesis, Dire Straits or Asia. Several of my favourite tunes clock in under 5 minutes (shock, horror). I can go quite far out in my other artistic interests, too, though perhaps not as far, but I think the other art forms tend to shock less than music when they are very unconventional.

I think music shocks in a subtler, deeper manner.  There's something disturbing, creepy and unsettling about something that sounds really weird - it gets to you, wordlessly and powerfully.  But some modern art goon being all outrageous and shocking just for the sake of it is much easier to brush off, somehow.

2b. I like to think I'm a rebel. Noone else does.

Ahh, we non-obvious rebels are the most dangerous.  Some people rebel simply by their appearance; others rebel by what's on the inside... Wink

3. Repetitive basslines a la Camel's Lunar Sea bore me. Otherwise, as long as there's variety, I don't really mind anything overmuch. I think there are less expectations in wait for what a movie soundtrack will be, and the visuals are so dominant for most films that focus is withdrawn from the soundtrack.

Great topic Thumbs%20Up

Thanks.  Great response! Clap
Back to Top
VanderGraafKommandöh View Drop Down
Prog Reviewer
Prog Reviewer
Avatar

Joined: July 04 2005
Location: Malaria
Status: Offline
Points: 89372
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 13:29
Originally posted by song_of_copper song_of_copper wrote:

[QUOTE=TGM: Orb]"Is your super-epyck-fantastique music-listening ability an innate gift, or a skill you have learned?"

Bit of both really. An innate willingness to try things beyond the beaten track, a (*modest voice*) highly intellectual outlook, and an inherent dislike of the overwhelming majority of chart material, rap etc. led me to 'prog' in the first place. However, at first, having virtually no real listening experience, I couldn't really understand the depth, musicianship and why it was so brilliant. Much as I loved my early prog acquisitions from getting them, coming back to them now, I'm aware of so much more that's going on (especially the bass parts).

Oh, yes - this I agree with.  I knew full well when I wrote the original post that 'both' was the correct answer... but it's really interesting to read people's experiences and ideas on this topic! Big%20smile

I like what you wrote about going back and listening to familiar music from a fresh/more experienced perspective.  'Musical culture' doesn't only cover style but also what it is normal to focus on when listening.  If the prevailing style you're used to hearing is all about vocals and the occasional guitar solo, you might find it difficult to orientate yourself in some instrumental piece that's all about synthesisers, or whatever.  Because of what I've been hearing lately, my ears have swapped focus to the drums and bass.  I heard one of my favourite songs the other day and started noticing percussiony bits that I hadn't really paid attention to before.  It's like my 'mental surround sound system' has been tweaked... LOL


I've also been hearing drums and basses a lot more recently too.  It's strange how something you think you're familiar with, sounds completely different when you start listening out for different instruments.  I listen to a lot of jazz fusion, especially Elton Dean and Soft Machine.  The latter has the very dominant sound of John Marshall's drumming and it really helps me pick out drumming on other tunes.  There's an Opeth song called "The Drapery Falls" and towards the middle/early end there is a guitar section that is really really catchy.  However, if you listen more closely, it's actually the drums that are dominant but you hear the guitar first.

I was brought up on blues, so I really like soulful guitar solos but I am still getting accustomed to the style of jazz fusion guitarists, like Allan Holdsworth.  He's all about speed and tapping, mostly and it just feels a lot less soulful to me.

Larks' Tongues in Aspic is a good album to really focus on drums and percussion. Wink

After a year and a bit of serious listening time, I've become a much deeper listener, and I do tend to look for multiple ways to enjoy things. I'm definitely more instantly receptive to more 'out there' stuff, and I can hear a hell of a lot more of what's going on. Larks' Tongues In Aspic (aka. Best album ever) wasn't an obvious favourite at the start, though I liked it. Now it is.

It's funny how certain things start out seeming so weird, but as you get really familiar with them, it's almost 'easy listening' to you!  (I mean that in a good way...)  I find it difficult sometimes to imagine what certain things might sound like to someone with totally different taste to mine.  Things that I think are devilishly melodic and catchy send some people running from the room in tears. Wink

I have also had this experience.  I find Koenjihyakkei very easy listening.  "Rattims Friezz", to my ears, sounds like it would make a good pop song and I can imagine it being used in a television advert.  Yet if anyone not familiar to their music hears it, they'd run a hectare or two!

I have tried to imagine listening to my music from the point-of-view of a new listener (or someone not into this style at all) and it's impossible.

This phenomenon also works against us.  We search for more and more avant-garde or experimental pieces and end up disappointed.  I have been there.  It means I had to step back from listening to music for a short while.  Now I try to focus more on the classic albums (I mean, classic albums to me, not classic albums to everyone else!) and occasionally venture into new territory.

*snip*
[/QUOTEj

Edited by James - July 18 2008 at 13:31
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 13:30
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:


Another excellent blogette Miss M. Thumbs%20Up

Gosh, thanks Dean! Embarrassed

I don't believe you can educate people to appreciate music beyond a certain level – the ‘height’ of this barrier varies from person to person, but is intrinsic and immovable. In other words, people are born with a natural potential and through learning can achieve that potential, but cannot reach beyond it. Of course, this ability is not one-dimensional or simply defined; it is complex and has many facets, which is why some can listen to repetitive drone and detect the subtleties while some can listen to technical-flash and admire the virtuosity and some can do both while others can manage neither. So even if you learn how to listen, the ability to do it was always there, to quote Doris Lessing: “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”

That is a superb quote.  Go Doris! LOL  Very interesting point you make - it almost seems like you're suggesting that there is a musical equivalent to the IQ.  (i.e. some kind of abstract categorisation of our ability/facility, that can be tested and measured... and who the hell knows what it really means...!  And of course it's up to us to use it for something and 'achieve our potential'... or not... Tongue).

I like what you say about people's preferences.  I'm wondering whether there's something in that about detail v the 'bigger picture'.  Each kind of music has a sense of scale to it, I find - some things repay close attention (like maybe the drone stuff you mention, where you could miss all kinds of nuances if you weren't really listening), whilst others are too fiddly and pointillistic to make any sense 'up close' - you have to retract your focus and get some distance between you and the music...
In the personality test thread it is evident that a significant majority of us are in the IN-- category (Introvert & Intuitive) - the key there is not the Introversion, which I think is possibly more indicative of the type of people who frequent forums, but the Intuitiveness that says we instinctively ‘get’ abstraction, so unconsciously relate what we are listening to above it’s entertainment value; so some have that innate ability to hear something dissonant and arrhythmic and associate it in context and therefore not dismiss it as unmusical while others can carry a melody from one section of a multi-part epic into another and recognise the variances (again often at a subconscious level) as being more than just simple repetition.

I agree with you that context is essential - I am always saying 'music is a pattern', but it never stops being true; if you don't know what the pattern is, it seems like an incoherent muddle.  But I think that you can acquire familiarity, through repeated listening, which gives you context...  Of course, the willingness to devote some time and attention to that is required first! Tongue
(Of course if this IN-- personality trait was a generalised prerequisite to liking Progressive Rock then only 11% of the population stands any chance of ever liking it Shocked).

Don't depress me! Cry  I am not like Garbo; I don't want to be alone. LOL
I cannot class myself as a musician as such I freely admit to not being a musician; I am inept at playing any musical instrument and my singing skills are negligible; I have no formal musical education and everything I now know I learnt as I went along. So I do not possess the ability to analyse music to the nth degree like some of the people here can. Yet I do make music, something a started doing very late in life after many years of being a listener, (whether this music has value to ears other than mine is not something I can judge or comment on), so from my own point of view I’d say that any ability to create music stems from the innate ability to listen to it rather than the other way around.
Another vote for it being that way round...  I guess it could be either, really.  I know that I've always liked singing and making things up (embarrassing recordings from when I was 2 bear this out! Embarrassed), and I first had piano lessons when I was 5.  I still can't really play the piano or read music, but that doesn't stop me having a go... LOL
(to put things into perspective, I'm currently listening to a Enya tribute album Embarrassed)

No comment!! LOL
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 13:59
Originally posted by James James wrote:

A wonderful blog, Melissa.  One I also cannot help but think I had some part in... i.e. your thoughts held over from out chat in the wee hours of the morning. Wink

Thank you James! Big%20smile  As for giving you credit for my wordsplurge... well, given that much of that conversation focused on the meaning of 'err...' and 'hmm...', I'm not entirely sure... Wink

Haha, no, you must have helped a bit, because I'm not sure how I managed to write all that yesterday.  It's not normal to become more verbose and convoluted when one is mentally fatigued. LOL

As for the subject matter to hand... my brain is not functioning as well as it should, at this time of the morning, so I may have better thoughts when I am more coherent.

I only play Harmonica slightly well (or slightly bad) and also do not class myself as a musician.  I could not pick out time signatures and/or notes that well.

It's odd, some people have a real flair for the music theory side, others just seem to 'get' music without necessarily having the technical know-how.  Music theory is all Maths, Greek and Astrophysics to me. Tongue  (Who knows whether I 'get' it the other way...)

Like Dean, I feel "my prog passion" comes from an innate ability to listen to technical music.

Not all musicians like prog, some even hate it.  Some may be saying this to rebel against and appear "cool" and some may genuinely have a dislike for (to their mind) "pretentious" music played by musicians with over-inflated egos.

Oh sure, I sort of meant 'any kind of music that goes beyond the merely palatable/obvious', rather than just prog. Smile  The attitude part of music, oh yes, that can affect people's willingness to let themselves like something...  (Personally, I find the 'ego' part rather sweet.  I love big musical personalities. Big%20smile)

I personally like a wide variance of music and I am always seeking something new and unique.  I tend to do this with other aspects of life too.  I like to discover a really good piece of original prose, for example.

<narcissism> Well, pal, you just found yourself one! Approve </narcissism>  (Haha, I wish!! Wink)

However, relating to the "abstract" comments, I personally dislike most modern abstract art and just cannot see anything good in some random (again, they're not random to others) painted wavy/straight lines on a canvas.  However, I put this down to not having a vivid enough imagination and not particularly having an interest in art.

Yeah, those 'Dulux swatch' type paintings are a bit 'meh'...  But give me a good old fashioned Surrealist object any day! Tongue

Music is different though.  Art in Music, especially abstract art in music, usually "clicks" for me.  However, some musical artforms, such as Noise and also the music of composers, such as Iancu Dumitrescu, leave me scratching my head.  Music needs to have a bit of progression, as well as a bit of a melody (not much of one though).  Ambient music usually bores me to tears and I always seek something heavier or more avant-garde.  In fact, my disdain for ambient music goes so far, even a Reiki CD irritates me (it's supposed to be calming LOL) and so I try to get something familiar that I enjoy, stuck in my head to counteract it.

When my mum goes for a facial she always asks them to 'turn off the whale music'. Tongue

Re. 'ambient v avant' - there certainly seems to be something about 'incident' in music.  I'm probably similar to you, I don't like it when *nothing happens* except a bit of texture...  But when 57 different things are going on all at once, great!  I'm a bit scared to investigate 'Noise'.  Something tells me it might sound like the description... Confused

Dean makes a good point about the IN-- Myers-Briggs Personality Types too.  I do think that Introvertness does have a key part to do with it though.  Those of us who are less active in socialdom tend to do more constructive things with our time, or we read and/or listen to music.  The latter two can often be attributed to intellect (but not specifically, of course) as well.  Does Intellect (which I feel is immeasurable) and Introvertness correlate?  Maybe.

Hahahahahahaha!! LOL LOL LOL  Something constructive, like posting on this forum...?

I'm not sure I agree (being serious now!) - plenty of introverts are not imaginative thinkers (it probably depends on the other personality aspects).  Of course, the ones who are can spend a lot of time just musin' and ponderin'.  Therein lies a whole heap of brilliant (??) ideas, thoughts and wisdom... well, maybe... LOL

I also feel Introvertness is mapped out at a young age.  Perhaps it's genetic, perhaps it's more linked into how one subconsciously initially perceives the world as a baby.  Those who are introspective may therefore have deeper emotional feelings and seek out music for emotions, rather than technical abilities.

Re: emotions etc: Again I think that depends on the type of introvert.  Really, you are sounding very INFP in this response... LOL

People listen to different music for many different reasons.  As somebody else said, someone can maybe dance to Dancing Queen because of its beat, melody and general happy feel it brings them but others of us can dance to something dissonant and repetitive, because it uplifts us in another way.

What uplifts me is *enjoyable confusion*, I think.  I get this really wonderful feeling when contradictory stuff is happening. Big%20smile

Extroverted people (I would say...) are likely too busy with their lives to fully immerse themselves in technical music.  They are probably more likely to just want to socialise and listen to the odd tune when they have the time.  That is obviously not always the case though.

Maybe the musical extroverts are the flamboyant violinists and pianists of this world. Tongue  Performers, rather than composers.

It is a fascinating subject and one I shall have to think more about when I'm not thinking of my rumbling stomach.

Well done, M. Clap  That is certainly one finely crafted and well thought out blog.

Thank you James! Embarrassed

EDIT: I have not read over what I have just written, so it may make no sense whatsoever!

Well, it looks fine to me.  Hmm, if you kept regular hours and ate normally you might be invincible. LOL


Edited by song_of_copper - July 18 2008 at 15:48
Back to Top
Dean View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Retired Admin and Amateur Layabout

Joined: May 13 2007
Location: Europe
Status: Offline
Points: 37331
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 18 2008 at 19:02
Originally posted by song_of_copper song_of_copper wrote:

Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

I don't believe you can educate people to appreciate music beyond a certain level – the ‘height’ of this barrier varies from person to person, but is intrinsic and immovable. In other words, people are born with a natural potential and through learning can achieve that potential, but cannot reach beyond it. Of course, this ability is not one-dimensional or simply defined; it is complex and has many facets, which is why some can listen to repetitive drone and detect the subtleties while some can listen to technical-flash and admire the virtuosity and some can do both while others can manage neither. So even if you learn how to listen, the ability to do it was always there, to quote Doris Lessing: “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”

That is a superb quote.  Go Doris! LOL 
There is another apt literary-related quote, which I can only half remember, and I haven't a clue who by, (maybe Iris Murdoch... she usually has a quote for every occasionTongue), that goes something along the lines of "I've been a reader for all my life and a writer for only a small part of it". I would imagine most musicians would say something similar.
 
Very interesting point you make - it almost seems like you're suggesting that there is a musical equivalent to the IQ.  (i.e. some kind of abstract categorisation of our ability/facility, that can be tested and measured... and who the hell knows what it really means...!  And of course it's up to us to use it for something and 'achieve our potential'... or not... Tongue).
I think there is a limit to each and every 'artistic ability', not just music - in the world of art the skill to produce a painting has a limit and the ability to appreciate a painting also has limit. Taking James's example of abstract art, anyone can create art that looks abstract (canvas+paint+random motive), but it takes an artist to create art that is abstract art (canvas+paint+controlled motive). The 'skill' in the viewer (aside from appreciating both paintings as pure decoration) is to tell the two apart, to be able to view the later and 'get' the emotional response, to understand the context from which it was abstracted and thus discover the controlling factors in the motive force that produced it. Because many people don't understand (or like) abstract art even when it is explained tends to indicate that it is an innate ability gifted to some and not others and is not one that can be taught.
 
That does of course imply that appreciation of any art form is also an artistic ability in it's own right, which is pretty much what we are alluding to here. Whether that is measurable or can be assigned a quotient is another matter, or even if we could, whether it as any real worth or meaning.

I like what you say about people's preferences.  I'm wondering whether there's something in that about detail v the 'bigger picture'.  Each kind of music has a sense of scale to it, I find - some things repay close attention (like maybe the drone stuff you mention, where you could miss all kinds of nuances if you weren't really listening), whilst others are too fiddly and pointillistic to make any sense 'up close' - you have to retract your focus and get some distance between you and the music...
I deliberately chose musical styles that were diametrically opposite, so it would make sense that the means to appreciate them would also be opposites. Wink
In the personality test thread it is evident that a significant majority of us are in the IN-- category (Introvert & Intuitive) - the key there is not the Introversion, which I think is possibly more indicative of the type of people who frequent forums, but the Intuitiveness that says we instinctively ‘get’ abstraction, so unconsciously relate what we are listening to above it’s entertainment value; so some have that innate ability to hear something dissonant and arrhythmic and associate it in context and therefore not dismiss it as unmusical while others can carry a melody from one section of a multi-part epic into another and recognise the variances (again often at a subconscious level) as being more than just simple repetition.

I agree with you that context is essential - I am always saying 'music is a pattern', but it never stops being true; if you don't know what the pattern is, it seems like an incoherent muddle.  But I think that you can acquire familiarity, through repeated listening, which gives you context...  Of course, the willingness to devote some time and attention to that is required first! Tongue
Of course Pop music is based upon simple repetitive patterns that require little or no effort to recognise and assimulate - it is pure representaional art with zero abstraction. In Prog the complexity of pattern increases and the degree of abstraction also increases, though not necessarily at the same time.
"You know what uranium is, right?
It’s this thing called nuclear weapons.
And other things.
Like lots of things are done with uranium.
Including some bad things.
But nobody talks about that."
Back to Top
Proletariat View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 30 2007
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1882
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 19 2008 at 15:38
Originally posted by Alucard Alucard wrote:

 ....in fact this is also one of my often returning questions : where does it come from :....I spend a couple of days with the young kids of a friend and the creative output is just amazing....so as for myself ....in the house where I grew up lived quite a lot of musicians among them a hardbob quintet who played in the cellar and for a long time I just fall asleep to the sound of hardbop and jazz is kind of a natural rhythm to me ....then  I always felt let's say Bartok & Zappa as the most groovy and funky music around... I find it much  more easy to dance to 'Inca Roads' then  'Dancing Queen'.... might be some kind of pre-birth experience or genetic material? the rhythmic perception is linked to the heartbeat and a lot of "primitive" danceforms are actually 100% Prog in tems of rhythmic complexity....a regular 4/4 beat is in a way completely un-natrural and mechanic.....so "freakiness" is always a metter of context....in the middle of an hungarian dance ensemble a regular 4/4 stomper will be the freak while...very interesting topic ....much more to say , but I have to run....
 
 
Your post got me thinking. especially what you said about "primitive" dance music.
 
I think that mabe the reason I like prog is because there was NO music in my home growing up other than my mom playing piano or my father on trumpet. The first time I can remember hearing recorded music was when I was five and my dad was getting real heavy into Ray Charles and Nat King Kole.
 
I think mabe I never got hooked into the pop song format because growing up I only listened to jazz trumpet and classical piano, and never listened to the radio. Making me more openminded than I otherwise might have been openminded.
 
P.S. Extremmelly good topic. Thanks
who hiccuped endlessly trying to giggle but wound up with a sob
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2008 at 12:54
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

There is another apt literary-related quote, which I can only half remember, and I haven't a clue who by, (maybe Iris Murdoch... she usually has a quote for every occasionTongue), that goes something along the lines of "I've been a reader for all my life and a writer for only a small part of it". I would imagine most musicians would say something similar.

Another interesting one!  Now I'm wondering about the age-old 'chicken and egg'... Tongue  Which really comes first?  In order to understand what you're reading, you have to be able to make 'mental analogues'...  I think people 'tell themselves stories' in this way all the time, otherwise how would you understand anything...?  But of course, to get the hang of expressing that in language (or music, or a picture...) you have to know what that looks/sounds like... aargh, don't get me going on this train of thought, I'll never get off it again...! Confused LOL

I think there is a limit to each and every 'artistic ability', not just music - in the world of art the skill to produce a painting has a limit and the ability to appreciate a painting also has limit. Taking James's example of abstract art, anyone can create art that looks abstract (canvas+paint+random motive), but it takes an artist to create art that is abstract art (canvas+paint+controlled motive). The 'skill' in the viewer (aside from appreciating both paintings as pure decoration) is to tell the two apart, to be able to view the later and 'get' the emotional response, to understand the context from which it was abstracted and thus discover the controlling factors in the motive force that produced it. Because many people don't understand (or like) abstract art even when it is explained tends to indicate that it is an innate ability gifted to some and not others and is not one that can be taught.

I would hazard a guess that both creativity and ability to interpret creativity rely on making connections between things that are not necessarily linked in a baldly factual way (in fact, I'm sure I've read something like that somewhere...).  An example of that would be wordplay, I suppose, or visual puns, or being able to pick out the buried structure in a chaotic piece of music.  Sensing subtleties.  I'm sure you're right that each person has an innate level of competence in that area.  Much of that might be hidden away behind modesty or reluctance to appear pretentious, though, in a lot of people.

That does of course imply that appreciation of any art form is also an artistic ability in it's own right, which is pretty much what we are alluding to here. Whether that is measurable or can be assigned a quotient is another matter, or even if we could, whether it as any real worth or meaning.

The only worth or meaning in measuring these things, I guess, is allowing people to know themselves better; also, trying to work out what the brain is doing when we hear music or see art etc. could be pretty useful (or at the very least... interesting! Tongue).  But you're probably right, it would mostly be 'just a thing you can say about yourself', not very widely useful...

Of course Pop music is based upon simple repetitive patterns that require little or no effort to recognise and assimulate - it is pure representaional art with zero abstraction. In Prog the complexity of pattern increases and the degree of abstraction also increases, though not necessarily at the same time.

Sometimes I think it's more a matter of style than substance - not so much music that's more complex, just different-sounding; and people are put off by the 'cultural baggage' rather than the musical content... Wink
Back to Top
song_of_copper View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member
Avatar

Joined: March 20 2008
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1065
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 20 2008 at 13:25
Originally posted by James James wrote:


I've also been hearing drums and basses a lot more recently too.  It's strange how something you think you're familiar with, sounds completely different when you start listening out for different instruments.  I listen to a lot of jazz fusion, especially Elton Dean and Soft Machine.  The latter has the very dominant sound of John Marshall's drumming and it really helps me pick out drumming on other tunes.  There's an Opeth song called "The Drapery Falls" and towards the middle/early end there is a guitar section that is really really catchy.  However, if you listen more closely, it's actually the drums that are dominant but you hear the guitar first.

A clever arrangement makes all the difference, yes?  I think it's much harder (or more impressive) to be able to write an arrangement than to write the basics of a song (tune and words).  It certainly gives you more to listen to/discover afresh. Smile

Brief tangent: In straightforward pop/rock there's this annoying stereotype of the drummer being a lovable idiot, 'the dummy who keeps the beat', hardly a musician at all... like a neanderthal with a bit of wood or whatever... and the bass player is the guy who is either not good enough or just too shy and dull to take lead guitar...  I like it when those cliches get rearranged. Tongue


I was brought up on blues, so I really like soulful guitar solos but I am still getting accustomed to the style of jazz fusion guitarists, like Allan Holdsworth.  He's all about speed and tapping, mostly and it just feels a lot less soulful to me.

What you say about soul is very interesting... that indefinable, faintly hormonal something that some music has, and some just... well... doesn't.  I think this may be why I can't seem to like opera.  It's just not... funkyWink LOL

Larks' Tongues in Aspic is a good album to really focus on drums and percussion. Wink

I'll bear that in mind! Tongue

I have also had this experience.  I find Koenjihyakkei very easy listening.  "Rattims Friezz", to my ears, sounds like it would make a good pop song and I can imagine it being used in a television advert.  Yet if anyone not familiar to their music hears it, they'd run a hectare or two!

It must be that thing of 'what relaxes you': soft, slow, gentle music or... organised chaos.  That kind of everything-happening-all-at-once music - maybe it's like the musical equivalent of the birch twigs they hit you with in the sauna! LOL

This phenomenon also works against us.  We search for more and more avant-garde or experimental pieces and end up disappointed.  I have been there.  It means I had to step back from listening to music for a short while.  Now I try to focus more on the classic albums (I mean, classic albums to me, not classic albums to everyone else!) and occasionally venture into new territory.

Disappointment on that front normally comes with stuff that is 'avant garde for the sake of being avant garde', in my experience.  There needs to be some kind of instinctiveness of some sort, I suppose, rather than instances of "Hmmm, this is going to sound really weird.  Man, am I ever hep!" from people wearing black polo neck sweaters. Wink  I think my favourite music is the stuff that sounds the way it sounds, simply because the thought of playing music that didn't sound like that would never even have occurred to the people who made it.  (Hm, that's a rather convoluted sentence... hope it makes sense!!) Big%20smile
Back to Top
Kestrel View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member


Joined: June 18 2008
Location: Minnesota
Status: Offline
Points: 512
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 21 2008 at 01:50

I was working on a blog post related to this subject a few weeks ago but postponed finishing it because I wanted a little more information from a friend. What it was was a comparison between a friend and I and how that reflects our taste in music. the gist of it was that since I have lots of free time, I can take the time to lsiten to an album and reflect on it and read about it. She, on the other hand, is a very busy person who I think views music as something to get her moving, singing and dancing to give her a break from all the work. She doesn't have the time to listen to "heavy stuff" like Supper's Ready or a Plague of Lighthouse Keepers and the like.

Of course, this doesn't explain everything, but I believe it's a significant factor.



Edited by Kestrel - July 21 2008 at 01:52
Back to Top
Certif1ed View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: April 08 2004
Location: England
Status: Offline
Points: 7559
Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 22 2008 at 03:48
There are just too many excellent thoughts floating around in this thread, and I must admit, I feel I need to re-read the main post in order to get a bit more out of it - it's kinda like a piece of music you need to hear a few times before you properly "get" it Wink
 
 
So I'll dive in by picking on the first post that jumps out with something I want to respond to;
 
 
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Another excellent blogette Miss M. Thumbs%20Up

I don't believe you can educate people to appreciate music beyond a certain level – the ‘height’ of this barrier varies from person to person, but is intrinsic and immovable. In other words, people are born with a natural potential and through learning can achieve that potential, but cannot reach beyond it.
 
I do not believe this to be true.
I think that we all have an infinite capacity for everything, it's just that some take longer than others.
I'm a big fan of "Jonathan Livingston Seagull". Wink
 
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

Of course, this ability is not one-dimensional or simply defined; it is complex and has many facets, which is why some can listen to repetitive drone and detect the subtleties while some can listen to technical-flash and admire the virtuosity and some can do both while others can manage neither. So even if you learn how to listen, the ability to do it was always there, to quote Doris Lessing: “That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you've understood all your life, but in a new way.”
 
That's a good quote - I often feel like that when I listen to, write or play music, read a book, attend an interesting lecture, play with my 4 year-old child... er... anything, really. Not always, just often.
I suppose that would explain my reactions above.
 
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

In the personality test thread it is evident that a significant majority of us are in the IN-- category (Introvert & Intuitive) - the key there is not the Introversion, which I think is possibly more indicative of the type of people who frequent forums, but the Intuitiveness that says we instinctively ‘get’ abstraction, so unconsciously relate what we are listening to above it’s entertainment value; so some have that innate ability to hear something dissonant and arrhythmic and associate it in context and therefore not dismiss it as unmusical while others can carry a melody from one section of a multi-part epic into another and recognise the variances (again often at a subconscious level) as being more than just simple repetition.
 
After many years of study, I'm not sure what's conscious and what's subconscious - and it really doesn't matter. I think that when you learn consciously, you absorb unconsiously, so learning selectively is important - you need to focus on what you're interested in, and if what you're interested in includes highly dissonant music, then it becomes easier to appreciate. If you only like a "good tune", then you probably won't like Schoenberg or Stockhausen.
When I first encountered those latter composers, I felt a brick wall of resistance go up - how could anyone consider THAT music? I didn't think I could ever like a piece like "Pierrot Lunaire".
Having studied it, I now feel like I can appreciate it better - and can certainly distinguish between pieces I like and dislike in music that is extremely dissonant - my wife asks how on earth I can even tell the difference between some of the pieces, as it all sounds like noise to her - and that's the key really. I've learned how to appreciate it not because I like it, but because it interests me.
...and as a result, I've come to really like some of it.
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

(Of course if this IN-- personality trait was a generalised prerequisite to liking Progressive Rock then only 11% of the population stands any chance of ever liking it Shocked).
I cannot class myself as a musician as such I freely admit to not being a musician; I am inept at playing any musical instrument and my singing skills are negligible; I have no formal musical education and everything I now know I learnt as I went along. So I do not possess the ability to analyse music to the nth degree like some of the people here can. Yet I do make music, something a started doing very late in life after many years of being a listener, (whether this music has value to ears other than mine is not something I can judge or comment on), so from my own point of view I’d say that any ability to create music stems from the innate ability to listen to it rather than the other way around.
We are ALL capable of making music and carrying a tune; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080612112628.htm
I'd suspect that we're all similarly capable of analysis and composition - we all do musical analysis whenever we hear a piece, even if it's "I like this", or "The singer sounds lousy", or "This sounds like Rap to me, not Rock".
Analysis gets really groovy when you start getting into why you hold those opinions, but frequently begins with an opinion. Real analysis begins with a question.
Formal musical education is great, if that's what you want, and there's no doubt in my mind that it significantly enhances musical appreciation. I can't prove that of course, and to anyone that doesn't share the same education as me, it's hard to demonstrate exactly what I get out of it that they don't, or how it could be in any way "more" or enhanced - but, as a performer and composer from a very early age (I started playing at 4 and writing at 6), I certainly know that there are more things I enjoy and notice in music than most - which is jolly nice for me Embarrassed
 
 
Originally posted by Dean Dean wrote:

(to put things into perspective, I'm currently listening to a Enya tribute album Embarrassed)
 
...until now, I always considered you a man of taste... Tongue
The important thing is not to stop questioning.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  123>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.01
Copyright ©2001-2014 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.297 seconds.