Friday, May 2, 2008

Phew! Finals are done! What a grueling race to the end this has been. My juries went fine, and I turned in all 11 of the papers (no joke) that were due in the last two weeks of school. Oy...

I want to explore for a minute one of the most basic concepts of music-making : listening. Obviously, every good musician does this, both with the horn on and off the face, but what I want to ask is how "interdisciplinary" a musician can effectively be with their listening choices? For example, you're not going to learn a lot about the ii/V/I progression listening to acid trance, but I feel that listening to and mimicking electronic music has given me a better ear in general because I have to be able to hear and process the differences in tones, what they mean, balance and blend, and a host of other things as I incorporate them into my own music.

However, I seem to get a twinge of embarrassment when I admit that I listen to and (nay) enjoy (!) electronic music; after all, it's associated with rave culture and the drug scene! We can't have our teachers knowing about that! Historically, though, formal music has lagged behind the popular or folk music; jazz music used to be a taboo, even, and now its theory and idioms are not only being studied as a subject, but studied as a pedagogy! How long may it be before hip-hop and punk rock go the same way?

So, why resist it? Why does academia tend to shy away from popular music as if there is no value in it? Is it because of contempt - that there must not be anything useful in "Classical Gas" because I can write a Schenkarian analysis on it? Why do teachers shy away from it - do they fear that the class may *gasp* know more then they do?? Or is it a simple matter of time, energy, and money? A full set of DJ equipment isn't cheap, and to learn how to effectively create and integrate, say, vocal trance into a curriculum would take a heck of a lot of time and effort. Perhaps more than it's worth, I will concede, if your ends are to make a better choral singer, using the vocal trance idea. But what about if your ends are to impart an enjoyment of music making? And if they aren't, why not?

Personally, I'd like to see more modern music explored in the classroom, or at least as an extracurricular. It may be expensive, and school budgets aren't a lot, but they're probably more than the allowance of your average 8th-grader. (teachers : am I correct in saying this?)

I see that I've diverged a bit; as far as rock goes, I really enjoy listening to Phish and Queen because they're so cerebral as far as the genre goes. They really take things outside of I, IV, and V and into the world of modulations, secondary-function chords, form, etc., but also because other aspects of musicality are so finely taken care of (intonation, rhythmic precision, etc).

Okay, I think I've raised enough questions for one post. Please, discuss...
Happy Monday!

No comments: