Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Danse Macabre

Another rare music post. While I do enjoy music, I still find myself resistant to valuing it in general and can have incredible difficulty in finding pieces I enjoy. Therefore, when I do find something that resonates with me I take to it strongly. The version of this piece with xylophones made me fever to the point that I almost started sweating. Devious and swooning! And such intensity! This is not something I'll forget.

I don't like much the painting that serves as the placeholder picture. The shadow looks sweet and innocent, like a boy, but the woman looks empty of life and happiness. The gray is far too bleak for my view of life. I suggest enjoying the music without looking at the picture.

I wonder if I should undertake a venture to develop a more sensitive taste to music. It surprises me that at my age I still value the medium so little. Or is it possible that one does not necessarily need to be resonate with all forms of art, and can just remain isolated to a few forms? Food for future thought. I know I promised in the past to be diligent in listening to my Pandora account in order to develop my taste, but while I do it semi-regularly I just don't seem to be valuing music any more strongly.


  1. I made a similar mistake when I first started seriously reevaluating my ideas and interests, especially in art and music, after discovering rational philosophy and Ayn Rand's literature. I pretty much stopped listening to pop music as I was seriously confused as to whether it was good or not. I thought the simple four-chord structure might be whimsical, irrational, and unnecessary to a fully developed mind. I found mainstream pop music somewhat repetitive and simplistic, even the indie pop I had previously enjoyed a lot. I forced myself to listen to a lot of classical music (more complexly structured) before I had a good grasp of it.

    It was a mistake, though something I had to learn first hand. There is complex melody in a lot of indie pop, and even that simplistic four chord structure in mainstream pop has enough coherence to be enjoyed.

    The value of indie pop and pop music is the logical layering of sounds into a coherent, intensely stark and stressed whole. There is value in the intricate patterns that your mind integrates. That the patterns are quick is not to be written off as a short-range whim; there is a sense of assertiveness and intensity in such music, and such traits are an important part of life. Life requires both long-range goals (purpose) and assertive action (motion). There's a good line in Atlas Shrugged about a train being a great representation of life because it has the two cardinal attributes of life: motion and purpose.

    In all aspects of life, not just music, there are moments where it is beneficial to be exceptionally bold and assertive; where you use your long-range goals and thoughts but have to make a snap decision if you are to have a chance of being successful. This is that sense of intensity and assertiveness that comes across in pop music. It's much like a spontaneous witty comment amongst friends that is especially enjoyable and would not have happened if you were not quick.

    Here's a couple complex indie pop songs that have a lot more intricate melody than most pop songs that you might feel like checking out:

    "Skinny Love" by Bon Iver

    "Ten Mile Stereo" by Beach House

    "The Last Parade on Ann St." by Chris Bathgate

  2. Oh I'm not "forcing" myself to listen to classical music. I know I like it; it's just that I have an extremely hard time coming across pieces I like. To date, Danse Macabre and the famous portion of the Carmen Suite are my favorites.

    I also listen to other genres and like them too, like scat, acid jazz, soft jazz, and even pop. Again the difficulty persists: I can take strongly to some pieces, but by and large I have enormous difficulty in enjoying what I come across.

    I had terrible music teachers while growing up, so for many years I associated them with music and wouldn't listen to music with any serious intent. Songs I liked, even loved, didn't even inspire me to write down their title. Music was just "there."

    I like music; I'm just wondering if I should work to develop my taste more seriously so I can enjoy a greater amount of it. Surely there's a greater wealth of value beyond the couple titles I mentioned above.

  3. I listened to a lot of jazz at first too. I still like some. Here's one soft jazz piece I would recommend checking out that is one of my favorites. It's "The New Year's Eve Song," sung by Kurt Elling, music by Patricia Barber. It's at the bottom song on this page.

    And if you haven't already, do me a favor and check out one song that I mentioned above, "Skinny Love" for Bon Iver. It's acoustic, very delicate. This type of stuff never gets played on the radio or gets any major press.

  4. A much gentler, and I guess in a way more melodic piece, by Bon Iver is "For Emma." The piano base has a jazz feel to it.


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