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Idunno

Music's Role

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Basing this on my own experience with music.

 

There was this kid with an empty head who new nothing of his world but was ready to receive. That'd be me. Music was there to take for free from the trusty A.M. receiver in the Telefunken console my pop bought cheap and flew back from West Germany in his bomb bay. In that console was a turntable. The crooners and big bands of the 40's were in constant rotation in my house. My parents cut-a-rug in the living room after dinner on some evenings. No one played an instrument but everyone enjoyed music. I can't remember a time when music wasn't playing.

 

I got the bug to learn to play at time coincidental with the debut of acoustic artistry in measures too generous not to sample. I sampled it all and became a disciple of it with influences that could almost be weighed. My ear had already been coached by the music in my home. When I did pick up the guitar there was a certain easiness I experienced with my physical and aural connection to it. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop but it never did. My pace for learning was quick, if any conclusion could be drawn from the pace my friends learned at. I quickly found myself alone, a solo player, and never did return to the camaraderie of any musical group. My own progress was a focus that took me away from people.

 

Early on I was keen to showcase my skills but that changed as quickly as I progressed. When the progress opened more and more avenues to explore and the knowledge that an infinite number were waiting to be created I retreated to my safe zone and introverted myself as a player. I knew my progress was a facade. It hid a vast ignorance of musicianship. The contrast of my knowledge and skills versus my accumulated aspirations was a deficit that I stuffed behind that facade.

 

Somewhere in that revelation I stopped listening to music completely. Learning to play became even more important and music itself became an unwanted distraction from it. I'd lost the appreciation for published music and introverted into my own private definition and pursuit of it. Even worse, the only way I could appreciate the early influences that originally charmed me into playing was to play them myself.

 

That's where I am now. Music now holds me accountable to return the favors it freely gave me over the years. I know that's probably an insanity few suffer, or would even think of, but I often suffer it and think that there's a debt to be paid acceptable only in denominations of original works, or a grand mastery of the instrument. I'll never achieve either so I play the facade part of the role music has relegated to me.

 

All that nonsense said, I'm not unhappy with what I do. I just had some grand aspirations that music was going to take me on some wonderful journey as it's fledgling and reveal great things about myself that I could only find there. But, if minion is the role I'm good with that. Music needs its ditch diggers, too.

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That's pretty deep stuff! I can't say I understand the feeling of being in debt to music.

 

My approach is to not put any expectations or huge commitments on my music. I work at my day job so that I can do as much or as little of whatever I want with music.

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Joe. Nice evocative slice of history there.

 

My first real memories of music are similar: my dad - who was a bit of a crooner - with a shortwave wireless held to one ear and a finger stuck in the other learning the old 40's ballads. I grew up with that style and never really appreciated anything else until Dylan and Cohen arrived - which of course was the spur to learn to play the guitar. There was just enough time to master(ish) the basics until along came wife, house, kids, work, another kid, another house, etc, etc so about 30 years passed as the git hung on the wall.

 

But the turntable and later the CD player were not idle and over those years I explored much wider genres which I enjoyed immensely usually via headphones in the wee small hours. I returned to the guitar about 15 years ago when the kids had flown the coop and work was less stressful than it was and discovered I could sing(ish) which is something I thought I couldn't do very well at all. Most of what I do now is on display hereabouts but in recent times also occurs in folk clubs which is most enjoyable. I stretch my vocal capacity even more in a mixed choir I joined about 8 years ago with renditions of choral works such as Mozart's "Requiem" and the like - hard work for someone who doesn't read music but good fun and stops me hanging around on street corners.

 

The turntable and cd player are still very active - no Spotify for me, thank you - and more often than not the wonderful works of Claudio Monteverdi dominate.

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Idunno, you've said before that you don't listen to music, and I still don't get it. Aren't you ever in supermarkets or restaurants or department stores or gas stations? It's everywhere - maddeningly so.

 

I wish I didn't have to listen to music all the time, because I hate most of it. (Yup, I'm a guit-picker/song writer who hates music!) I work at a big box store, and the canned crap they pump in all day long would drive a lesser man insane!

 

When my wife and I decide to go out to eat, one of the things we consider is the music we'll have to listen to. The best spots around here are a place that just plays blues, another that just plays cajunta and mariachi, another that plays old crooner jazz, another that plays Chinese soft pop, and a couple of places that don't play anything at all.

 

But having said all that, music for me is fun. (I do like hearing SOME music. And dumping on the dreck is kind of exhilerating, too.) Nothing revelatory or aspirational for me. Playing or listening, it's all recreational.

 

You take it more seriously, which means you're probably a lot more musical than I am. So - do what feels right, and don't worry about whether your digging a ditch or levitating. It's YOUR music!

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I almost never listen to music. My friends think that's strange for a musician. I just find it distracting if I'm trying to do something else. I can't just let music wash over me and enjoy it in a passive way. It's either irritating me or I'm dissecting the individual parts.

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I almost never listen to music. My friends think that's strange for a musician. I just find it distracting if I'm trying to do something else. I can't just let music wash over me and enjoy it in a passive way. It's either irritating me or I'm dissecting the individual parts.

Yeah, that's what I mean. It's impossible for me to not listen to it when it's playing. Like, it's impossible to have a conversation in a bar with loud music. (Or a TV, but that's another story.) Some people thrive on it, but I just can't do it.

 

Worst: trying to READ when music is playing. I stay on the same page for fifteen minutes, and if I manage to turn the page, I can't remember what I just spent fifteen minutes reading.

 

So, same question for you, Grant. How do you avoid it? I'd love to know Idunno's and your secret!

Edited by Delmont
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If I can't remove myself I'll just try to shut it out, but it's pretty much what you experience. No secret, just a double-edged sword that has enabled me to hyper-focus on music to my benefit, but makes me easily distracted if I don't have a primary focus.

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I find it strange that most who don't listen to music now say it is partly because of the crap the music industry puts out now. There is great new music out there. Itunes and the internet has made it far easier for less radio friendly acts to sell and get their name out. Check out Colter Wall, and Tyler Childers. Nothing inspires me to play more than finding a new artist that excites me.

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For the record I'm not like this. All music is distracting to me if I'm not able to focus on it. I definitely don't share the "modern music is crap" feeling.

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I almost never listen to music. My friends think that's strange for a musician. I just find it distracting if I'm trying to do something else. . . .

 

When I listen to music I don't do anything else (except maybe sip a little red wine).

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I find it strange that most who don't listen to music now say it is partly because of the crap the music industry puts out now. There is great new music out there. Itunes and the internet has made it far easier for less radio friendly acts to sell and get their name out. Check out Colter Wall' date=' and Tyler Childers. Nothing inspires me to play more than finding a new artist that excites me. [/quote']

Of course it's not ALL bad. Ninety percent of it is bad, and the ten percent that's good doesn't get as much air play as the bad stuff.

 

I've asked at work if I could bring in some CDs, but we're only allowed to listen to what the company pipes in. (They have algorithms that tell them what songs make people spend the most money.)

 

I used to like the Prairie Home Companion guests, but these days it seems like Chris is just dragging the river to build up his lineup. At least he's changed the name of the show. Keeping the old name seemed sacrilegious.

 

More current acts I've been listening to a lot lately include the Bruce Katz Band, Carolina Chocolate Drops, the Ragpickers, and Alan Stockard.

 

The point isn't that it doesn't exist. It's that you have to spend so much time listening to the ninety percent. It just wears me down. Yeah, plenty of good stuf is out there, but it's not what they're playing at the hardware store!

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The music you guys hate is still good music, just not for your generation and part of the world. Anything that has the words "pickin" or "rag" in the title is unlikely to resonate with me even though I'm not young. Doesn't mean it's crap music though.

 

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The music you guys hate is still good music, just not for your generation and part of the world. Anything that has the words "pickin" or "rag" in the title is unlikely to resonate with me . . . .

 

​​​

 

But but but - The Ragpickers pick resonators!

 

And the music I hate is BAD music. I love the good stuff.

 

And that's g-g-g-g-g-generation!

Edited by Delmont
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I would never call it bad music though. :)

From now on you can go to Kohl's for me. (Or show me how you "shut it out"!)

Edited by Delmont
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re: original post, that’s quite a summary. One I can relate to as well. It’s tough figuring out your place in this music thing.

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. . . One I can relate to as well. It’s tough figuring out your place in this music thing.

Luckily, though, we don't all need a place in music. Leo Kottke has a place. Derek Trucks has a place. Dave Rawlings has a place. Most of us just like playing.

Edited by Delmont

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