Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How We Listen to Music

I will start off by stating that I believe music (itself) is good, and that listening to it is a great exercise of the mind and heart.  I also think it is good that we now have instant access to whatever type of music we want, whenever we want it (iTunes, pandora, youtube, etc.).  This latter point only becomes annoying when I am trying to run events or get somebody's attention, and he or she refuses to take the earbuds out. 

So, for as much good as our instant access to music has brought about, it is interesting to reflect upon the quasi-negative effect. 

Music, most of the time, and for many of us, is a largely individualized affair.  I have my playlists, and my iPod and none of this touches you.  Again, for the most part (though not all of the time), this seems to be the case.  My music is for my ears.  But, what did people do before the mp3, the CD, the cassette, the 8-track player, the record, the radio, the phonograph? 

They listened to music live, as a group, at concerts.  Music was something shared by all.  It was meant to be communal - insightful and life-giving to the whole. 

I'm not so sure we fully understand this nowadays, though we get glimpses of it:  at concerts, at sporting events, religious events, and when you rock out to a song with your friends in the car. 

We are communal creatures.  Music is typically made in community and for community.  We ought to keep this in mind as we become more and more tempted to isolate ourselves in individualism and iPod-ism. 

I've always been struck by the sense of isolation portrayed by these silhouette dancers.

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