Wednesday, October 17, 2012

On Music

I've been thinking about music a lot lately.  I've always loved music.  I took piano lessons for years and was also in band for a good part of my life.  I love listening to music as well, especially if I'm in the car where I can crank the volume and sing at the top of my lungs.  Music is so big to me that it's sometimes painful when someone is talking to me when a favorite song is playing.

While I love music, I am pretty particular.  My tastes are very eclectic (ska, symphonic metal, hardcore punk, Kpop, classical, etc.), but there are also a lot of things that I dislike.  I tend to despise "shoe-gazer" music or stuff that's too slow or mellow.  When I hear Bittersweet Symphony I want to scream.  I also can't stand country.  I could go on, but you probably get the picture.

I used to be even more picky.  Recently I've come to appreciate more and more styles of music.  I think I used to be more judgmental about music I didn't like.  "It's not hard enough."  "Pop is lame." "They're just wannabes."  Although I still have strong likes and dislikes, I'm coming to appreciate lots of different things.  Sometimes I wouldn't want to like certain artists or genres because they didn't seem to fit with other things I like.  Since I like punk and metalcore, I certainly can't like Kelly Clarkson, right?  Maybe it's just because I'm older, but now I have no problem admitting that I like Kelly Clarkson.

Part of that is because I'm trying to give different genres and artists a chance before passing immediate judgment.  Part of that is I care less of trying to please people.  While I still wouldn't wear a Kpop shirt to a metal show, I proudly like both.  The other part is that now I don't try to judge all music by the same ruler.  I used to disparage pop music because it wasn't as musically complex, edgy or lyrically compelling as some other genres.  Now I think that that doesn't matter.  There are times when I want meaty lyrics and inspiring instrumentals, but there are also times when I want to dance around with my friends and sing about the weekend.  Both are good but they made are for very different purposes.

I've also been thinking about song-writing recently and realized that my view on that has also changed. Most Americans, at least those who care about music, prefer bands that write their own songs.  They tend to scoff at musicians who just perform others' work, seeing them as lame at best and talentless fakes at worst.  I used to have that same attitude, but I'm not so sure anymore.

Sure, I think it's awesome when people can write and perform their own music.  That takes a great deal of talent and hard work, and I take my hat off to such musicians.  At the same time, I don't think performing someone else's song is necessarily a bad thing.  Sometimes people are very good at writing songs but don't have the singing chops necessary to bring it to the world.  Should those songs be lost because their writer can't perform?  It seems to me that the collaboration between a singer and songwriter can only bring more to quality songs to the table.

I think the most important thing is that the singer or band choose songs carefully so that they are actually connecting with what they sing.  That connection and passion is important in any kind of music, no matter who writes it.

All that to say, I've really been trying to learn more about music recently.  No matter how much I've studied in the past, there's still so much to learn!  I've been having a good time discovering new facts and talents as well as surprising myself with new likes and ideas.  I'm sure I'll update you more in the future as to new things I'm learning.