Do you ever wonder what makes people like or abhor certain types of music?
Part of me wants to believe it solely depends on personal taste. (N*Sync is the greatest boy-band of all time. See? Easy, right?) But, that can’t be right.
In fact, that statement probably… definitely drastically simplifies it. The who/what/when/where/why of introduction has to play a larger role in the process.
I grew up liking a variety of music. I was blessed (and I realize this now) with parents who were never into the billboard top 10 music of the day. Growing up, sometimes I silently stewed in the car wishing my parents would just switch to pop radio. Occasionally, you just need to hear the latest mind-numbing hit, ya know?
With my dad, I listened to jazz and the oldies of the 1940’s and 1950’s. And, in the car with mom, music selections varied from classical music to Broadway hits to the musical stylings of the 1960s and 1970s. My oldest sister introduced me to the wonder of 80’s music. (Rock me, Amadeus!) And, then I was along for the ride that was the 1990’s and 2000’s. This jumble of sound? A certifiable melting pot of American music of the last century.
I know I’m still unacquainted with a lot of genres. I’ve tried a few new ones and had trouble getting into them. Example: Rap is very much hit-or-miss with me. Screamo?
It’s just bad. Don’t understand the appeal.
So, what makes someone like a genre?
I have no idea. But, I do know that everyone has an ear. I don’t mean a physical ear because, duh!, we each have two of those. (Except you, Van Gogh, but that was your decision.) I mean, you hear a song and you have a feeling about it. Love, hate, ambivalence. But, there are also genres that have to grow on you. Like Broadway. Or, in my case, rap. And, especially, classical music.
This post started because I was thinking about how under-appreciated classical music is. I enjoy listening to music with no words when I’m reading for class. It helps me concentrate. Generally, I’ll stick to composers or pieces I know. Beethoven, Haydn, and John Williams (yes, of film soundtracks) tend to be the most popular.
I was in the mood for something new today. Spotify has a radio feature that, generally, I just ignore. Not today.
After a few tracks, a familiar piece came on. I didn’t know the name, but I know I’d heard the theme somewhere. It was beautiful and simple and absolutely wonderful.
I was hearing Smetana’s Vltava (The Moldau). If you haven’t heard it, you should. Right now.
It paints (yes, music can paint. Now, shh.) the story of the Vltava, a river in the Czech Republic, as it winds its way through the country showcasing its charm and landmarks.
“The composition describes the course of the Vltava, starting from the two small springs, the Cold and Warm Vltava, to the unification of both streams into a single current, the course of the Vltava through woods and meadows, through landscapes where a farmer’s wedding is celebrated, the round dance of the mermaids in the night’s moonshine: on the nearby rocks loom proud castles, palaces and ruins aloft. The Vltava swirls into the St John’s Rapids; then it widens and flows toward Prague, past the Vyšehrad, and then majestically vanishes into the distance, ending at the Labe (or Elbe, in German).” [Ma Vlast, Wikipedia]
This particular piece is part of a larger collection written by Smetana as a way to promote the beauty of his homeland. The entire collection consists of 6 pieces and, if you have the time, I highly recommend them.
Classical music is such a diverse and fascinating genre, it’s a shame that it tends to make people feel ‘bored’. I’ll admit, I get bored listening to some pieces. Keeping the mind focused on ONLY what it can hear when there are no words to ground it is definitely challenging. But, it’s a challenge I wish more people could and would take.
I really didn’t intend for this post to be about a push for Musical Education. But, apparently, that’s what it is. And I think I’m okay with it.
VIVA LA CLASSICAL MUSIC!
Anyway, if you have a few minutes and you’re interested, give this piece a try. You never know, you might like it.