Welcome to my new series, "More Than Music".
This introductory post is to present the basic concept behind this series as well as to have a place of reference for subsequent posts.
I want to thank my good friend, Kevin M. Kraft, for always being willing to lend an ear to my ramblings as well as for encouraging me to write and share them, publicly. I also want to thank my mom and sister, who act as my editors, for being willing to share in the discussions which bring these deepest thoughts and observations to life.
And now, without further ado, I present to you my latest musings, my new series here on my blog, "More Than Music".
It is widely acknowledged that music is very personal. The personal connection that most people feel with specific music is mostly based in emotion. Emotion is something we expect from music and even something we hope for. A song can make us cry or laugh, it can evoke anger or peace: music is very powerful. But what if I said that music, an art form so strongly rooted in subjectivity, can be swayed by objectivity? What if I said that taste in music, something that most people associate as an emotional decision, can be changed based on intellect? Perhaps this has happened to you, but you are unaware why or how. Perhaps you thought your opinion on certain artists or styles never had any chance of being changed. Actually, it is easier than you think for this to happen, and I am here to share with you my observations on just how this is possible.
It is true that opinions in music are very subjective, especially this day and age when there is a plethora of styles and genres to choose from. Finding a "sound" that is appealing is as simple as clicking "next" on any device.
In a world that has become so digitized, the enjoyment of music has become more and more about finding that emotional connection with a song and a sound that is appealing, without any thought or regard to the artist behind it.
You may ask, "But isn't music all about the 'sound'? Isn't that what music is?" Well, yes, of course music is all about sound and listening to a sound we enjoy. My point in this series is not referring to judging the music itself in any way, but showing how taste in music, our likes and dislikes, can be swayed by knowledge.
It is impossible to completely remove emotion as a factor in our determination of preference of taste in music. Emotion will come into the picture at some point. It is possible to start with an emotional connection to a song, artist, or style and for that connection to continue to grow through emotion. However, it is also entirely possible for a connection to be made through knowledge or a basic understanding of a song, artist, or style and for that connection to grow into appreciation for said song, artist, or style until emotion, eventually, comes into the picture, and the connection grows from there.
Let me use an example to illustrate my point more clearly. In today's culture, classical music is becoming lost and unappreciated, especially opera. Even my mom, who supports me wholeheartedly in all that I do, admits that she was not a fan of opera. It was not her "style". It has only been in the last 3 or 4 years that my mom has gained a respect for opera music and singers to the point where she now enjoys listening to that music. Over the last 3 or 4 years, she has been constantly confronted with opera music due to my vocal studies and opera training. Is opera now her first choice of listening? No, and that is understandable. But, through learning the technical side of voice with me, being involved in what I enjoy, listening to all my ramblings about singers, operas, etc., and being open to learning about something that she herself has no interest in, she has gained a very deep respect for opera and classical music. Over time, that respect has turned into enjoyment. Does this mean that I think everyone should learn opera in order to best appreciate it? No.
The point of the story is to never stop allowing yourself to be open minded to things that go against your "style" or "taste".
The example given above specifically refers to a style of music, but the same can be said for an artist, as well. This is especially true for artists with unique voices. A song judged solely on its sound can be misunderstood. An opinion can be formed in a split second, but perhaps not before some questions run though our minds, "What are those strange things being heard?" "Is that poor technique by the singer?" "Why does it sound like this?". In this brief moment, we have a choice: form an opinion of dislike and change the song or ponder the questions, find answers, and formulate an opinion based on our new-found knowledge. Maybe those strange sounds are just part of a style with which you are unfamiliar. Perhaps what is first thought as poor technique is simply the nuances of the artists voice. It is possible it sounds a certain way because the artist is revolutionary.
As patrons and consumers of the art of music, I think we owe it to the artists to find answers to these questions before forming a definite opinion to the negative.
And who knows, in the process, a newfound love could be discovered, a lifelong friendship could be formed, or, at the very least, an acquisition of knowledge, understanding, and appreciation previously thought unobtainable.
I am in no way degrading anyone's opinion or preference of style. There are many styles and artists that I am very pertinent in saying that I don't like their sound, their voice, or their style. My reason for this post is to acknowledge a process that many people do not understand or recognize. Perhaps in doing so, I will shed some light on bringing people back into the equation of popular music and helping others to gain an appreciation for different types of music outside their own preference.
I look forward to expounding on some of the points I mention in this writing in subsequent posts of this series. I hope you will join me as I share about artists that I am very passionate about and my own personal journey through their music. If you learn something along the way, I hope you will share it with me. I truly hope this series inspires others to not give in to the societal conforms where artists are all formed from the same mold with the same sound without any thought to who they are as a person and letting their personality shine.
Thank you for taking the time to read all of my ramblings, and I do sincerely hope you will join me for my next post where I will be discussing
my own journey of appreciation to admiration with the great
Dean Martin, titled, "A Journey to Love".
Author: Emily E. Finke
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