Posts Tagged ‘music’

Classical Music is NOT Easy Listening Music

September 17, 2008

Okay, I am a different kind of guy, especially compared to most of my friends.  My friends are normal people; an associate pastor, a construction superintendent, an alarm system installer.  I, on the other hand, am a magician/comedian/evangelist.  That in and of itself is enough to keep normal people from even associating with me.   I know now why Jerry Seinfeld hung out with George, he was glad to have company of any kind.

I like classic rock, but I have heard it for years and there are only so many times you can listen to a station “get the Led out.”  I listen to quite a bit of jazz.  I especially like older jazz, big band swing music.  Maybe I was born 30 years too late, but the tightness and quality arrangements of big band music is fantastic!  I actually sat and watched “The Glenn Miller Story” the other day for at least the 9th time.  Truth is, it never comes on that I don’t sit and watch it.  I own Glenn Miller CDs, as well as Bennie Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Harry James and many more.  I also like fusion, which is a cross between rock and jazz in both instrumentation and style.  It has a lyrical quality that is easier to follow than the manic wanderings of Charlie Parker, although Charlie was a legend.  My favorite jazz fusion artist is Billy Cobham, one of the best drummers of all time, but he also wrote and arranged.  Of his library of work, two albums stand far above all else, “Total Eclipse” and “A Funky Thide of Sings,” both produced in the 70s.

I have been a musician since the age of four and have picked up and played about a dozen different instruments, if only to learn one song.  I prefer instrumental music because it doesn’t have to lay low in the background while the singer tells some story.  Let the singer go perform at a poetry reading and let the band play!

If you were to catch me in my car any given day I can almost guarantee you I will be listening to classical music.  My love of classical goes back to college when I took a class in music appreciation.  Not because I wanted to expand my horizons, but because it got me out of taking another written humanities class.  I, like many others, did not like classical music at the time because it was slow and boring.  But at that time I had never heard Igor Stravinsky.  Stravinsky has literally changed my life.  This is NOT easy listening music, in fact my wife refers to it as hard listening music.  It is so complex with atonality and varying rhythms, many people uneducated in music just don’t get it.  If you just got lost in the previous sentence, you know what I mean.

Classical music is not meant to fill the void in the background while you drive or eat or read.  It is best enjoyed in a very quiet, dimly lit room with no distractions and your eyes closed.  To really enjoy it you have to let the music consume you, become one with it.  I taught music appreciation for one year in a private school and, as an experiment, had the class move all the desks to the edge of the room and lie down on the floor with all of the lights off.  I then played Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.”  You should have seen their faces when it was over and the lights went back on.  “I didn’t know there was music like that!”  Exactly.  We had a party at the end of the year and they asked me, “Are you going to play any more of that Russian psycho music?”

All of this is to say, don’t disdain a friend or aquaintance because you happen to catch him listening to “Petrushka.”  Ask to borrow his CD, go off to a quiet place and give it a try.  Because you might, just might, find that classical music is worth the effort.

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