Monday, March 06, 2006

No Muzak

For many years, I surrounded myself with music. It was an active and constant part of my life. I had the radio on in my car, and a CD plaing in my bedroom, and my mother and I both carried little portable radios around the house with us as we walked. I had particular CDs that I used for studying, and others that I used for relaxation, and when I wasn't listening to music, I was making it. I hummed myself to sleep at night, and sang as I went about my more routine daily activities. I even caught myself humming during my matric English final. I sang constantly, and still do. I have, however, become much more sensitive to environmental sound in recent years, and can no longer tolerate constant background music. I struggle to study with music or the television on, something that was never a difficulty when I was in school, and I cannot concentrate on conversation if there is music in the background. Part of it is related to a creeping intollerance of loud volumes (I listen to the radio and television on a much lower volume than do my family), and part of it is that I am now so used to analysing the music I hear, and its socio-cultural significance, that I can no longer tune it out. I no it is a common problem for other students of music, and I wonder what it says about out careers. Are we still capable of understanding music in its real-world uses when we can no longer use it in these ways?


The Complimenting Commenter said...

That is a great post. Very interesting. I have gone back and forth in life where I need music in the background and then can't stand it, and back again. Thanks for making me think.

Anthony the Monster said...

we had a conversation about this once... and the fact that the skill comes in knowing how to analyse & critique, and then learning to forget all of that. not easy, but possible. everything time i compose it happens with a ton of awareness-baggage, which inevitably slows the composition and may ultimately stop it all together.

often on completing work (academic or musical) you can feel like you've just crawled out of a lonely far-off cave, and quite disconnected. but how far are you willing to push yourself beyond your boundaries, then, nicol? the treasures are in the cave, and if you want them... no two ways about it.

i've found a useful thing is to keep touch with people who are not musicians or music academics, and re-learn to enjoy music by their example.