Friday, February 18, 2011

The anxiety in recognition of any 'goodness'

The other night whilst in a concert given by quartet and a pianist I noticed how clumsy I felt listening to the music itself. It was an interesting parallel to the visual arts experience in that it's often enriched by context and prior experiences. Without these 'tools' we are often helpless and have to instead rely on the visceral.

Feeling uncomfortable with any value judgements - Was it a 'good' performance? Were the pieces something significant? - meant that I instead simply focussed on what sounded 'good' to my ear.

Interesting enough one particular movement that I liked was then described by Elisa - who's ear is extremely broad in both jazz and classical music - as one of the most boring bits of music that she'd heard in a very long time.

Different quartet but same piece of music:

Admittedly my personal taste, as anyone's, varies from arguable 'tenets' of goodness. We often read articles about how this or that pop musician is some revelation and has won multitudes of awards to only find the music itself very dull and uninspiring.

In the classical and jazz genres there are particular styles that I find appealing and I seek those out in any piece of music. I might excuse faults on the basis of some moments that appeal. Equally I might dismiss a piece if an unappealing instrument is featured.

This does bother me sometimes as I begrudge anyone who dismisses artworks on the basis of medium so why do I excuse my own attitude to another art form?

Later on we really enjoyed the Debussy portion of the programme as it satisfied both of our 'requests'. That said, I did come away still feeling I might like the 'wrong' composer.

Again, different quartet but same piece:

Ridiculous thoughts but this 'goodness' anxiety seems so broad in contemporary life - ie. the problems of too much choice and how we are fearful we are making the 'wrong' decision - that the parallels make for interesting ideas.

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