I'm not Jazz; I'm not Blues--I Am Rock and Roll
Nope. No music videos. Nope. No praise of musical style or of musicians. This essay is about musical preference and growth and maturation. Thinking about musical preferences in my case led me to consider how these preferences arose. I cannot talk in particulars because each of us has own preferences in music--and in friends, food, politics, and most everything else. If this essay turns to first person, as it frequently will, does not mean to imply about any one else's preferences. My path to music may not be typical of anyone else. But it one sense, musical maturation is a developmental process present in every one alive. No matter how we get there will be different but I doubt many people goes through stages in what type of music, what musicians or bands (or orchestras or plain chant, etc.) A person will always arrive at a choice.
In some cases the choice be so elementary exclusionary that people don't like music at all even though they can hear. I pity such people. Music is life. Imagine a day without it--whether you make it or merely listen. How empty then would life be. Slaving for a job, whether office cubicle, forest, or raising children; whatever a person does, music makes life bearable.
When does music appreciation begin? In mother's womb where the reassuring of maternal heartbeat is association of healthy birth. In those unfortunate cases, such as a still-born, the music stops too soon.
In the longer term, people generally undergo simultaneous growth and maturation. Growth can be defined as physical size. Growth can also be attained socially and on individual levels. In fact growth occurs, to greater or lesser degree, in all three aspects: physical, social, individual.
Maturation is the hopefully increasing ability gained through experience by which we use the fullest extent of all our faculties to the best of our efforts and circumstances. Circumstances means environment: what was your family life like when you were getting older? Getting older is not necessarily growing.
Some people are possessed of a rigid acceptance of new experiences. Some people are unable to synthesize experience into beneficial wholes--they are the ones whose life path has been less than totally benign. I place no value, either positive or negative as to the ultimate termination of their growth and maturation.
But a side-note is in order here. Psychopaths have arrested development, lacking empathy for anyone but themselves. The reasons for such cessation in social development are multifold most likely. And personal development can be arrested prematurely in physical growth and in maturation as defined above. Worse, all three areas may be stunted, twisted or even regress.
But my feeling about human nature, because I am a humanist, is that, absent external pressure, most people are well-intentioned and empathetic. Were this not, so life, as difficult as often it is, would be a daily hell for everyone. A few psychopaths can life like miserable far beyond their mere numbers in the population.
But, after this foray, rather obliquely, into politics, let's get back to music. Here I have to use first person to illustrate process rather than destination. My process and my destination will most likely not be yours. That's okay.
Soon after birth, the music of mother's womb ceases, even as mother's love typically increases for her off-spring. New sounds coming all jumbled, without meaning occurs immediately after birth. Most people, having little maturation that will rarely appreciate those noises as music. But with growth and maturation, some order emerges from cacophony. Only when that aural order is recognized, not necessarily cognitively, can sounds become music. In fact cognition in only the barest sense is necessary for appreciation of music. Music is emotion, aided and abetted by cognition to greater significance. If the music doesn't suit you nor do the words/sentiments, then obviously, that won't be your preference. But preferences change. Everything in life changes...for most persons.
And so I went from listening to Country and Western before electrification and commerciality. The old timey stuff. My choice of this style was somewhat involuntary in that local broadcasts featured little music otherwise. Later I was exposed to jazz, lots of it. I never played an instrument. Great jazz at times too. I even went to a few jazz concerts but I wasn't captivated by it, even though I realized the virtuosity of performance. Why was I not captivated? Don't know. Is such a thing even knowable? Why did my musical preference move me on?
My next style was pop of the type in the 40's and early 50's. I liked the music because of clear melodies and understandable lyrics. Many fine songs that perhaps millions still love. Human emotions across the entire range expressed clearly. Yet this was not my destination musically, just as my politics at that age were not as they are now.
Side note: I loved "classical" music (plain song, madrigals, toccatas and fugues, themes and variations, string quartets and symphonies) the whole genre and its lineage. Of course, my favorite was and has always been Beethoven. So why do I not say "I am Classical"? The emotion is certainly there, possibly greater in density than any other art form I know including raga, Tibetan chant, Chinese classical music and classic Japanese with their differing chromatics. All wonderful. Yet no connection. Why not? There's that lack of connection again, one which cannot be explained. I defy anyone to predict another's musical preferences with knowing that person quite well.
So, then along came rock rand roll, at once primal and cerebral, in varying proportions depending upon the artist and the artist's own maturation as well as mine.
Play it loud. That's Rock and Roll. You don't have to like it; fine with me. But I sure hope you love some kind of music.
This essay has been written while listening to Eric Clapton. It helps me express these thoughts but is not necessary to that.
For those of you rock and rollers, check out Blisland by Katrina Leskanich. Masterpiece--a term I do NOT use lightly.
So, readers, listen too. Whatever you like. Why your choice know one can know.
Play it loud!