Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quantum Leaps

In the past few days, I've been reminded by at least three unique people in at minimum three unique situations that this blog still exists. But it exists dormantly in an almost hypocritical fashion: this blog, back in the naive days in which it was created, was made as a sort of soapbox to figure out the nature of music. A place where the transfer from simple "good or bad?" judgements and claims based on unproven generalities (i.e. "All british popular music is bad") to more sophisticated analyses: why do I listen to this and not that? What is the stigma in contemporary music on guitar solos? Why did every music critic or music magazine pick the same ten releases for their top ten of '08 lists?

Yet I'm listening to more music than I ever have at any point in my life. Sure, the actual magnitude of the amount of musical sound that hits my ear is probably the same, but more and more of it is truly within my control - a technical point if anything. So with that, one would imagine, there must be some serious epiphanies about music for its own sake and music's intersection with mainstream culture.

A lot of it is the simple realization that I really am not as qualified as I want to believe to talk about music. I belong to WRCT, the radio station that broadcasts from my college's campus, and it's there that I see people who should be talking about music and philosophizing over it. It's one thing to have an opinion. Anyone can have an opinion - absolutely anyone. There are a few people I know and a plethora more people I knew that absolutely refuse(d) to listen to anything associated with their definitions of "indie rock" - saying it and its byproducts were automatically bad music without justifying the statement or listening to the "genre" with open ears. Certainly they had an opinion, and a damn strong one to be added.

But it's yet another thing to have an opinion based on a very through listening of every genre of music. And that's where things diverge. Like the people who say "nay" to indie rock, I'm basing my opinions on a very narrow listening of music - to the extent that there are many prominent bands within the genres I claim to listen to that I am completely ignorant of. There seems to be more of a tendency for people at the radio station to base their judgements on a more complete listening of the musical canon - samplings of drone, ambient, electronic, industrial, metal, classical, jazz, minimalism, so on. It's a theme I've mentioned once or twice in last year's posts - or at least believe I did - that you really can't claim to be qualified until you know a tiny bit about everything.

And that's a monumental task if there ever were one. It's simply humanity's tendency to stick towards the familiar. We know there's so much more within the world (in this case, all these genres of music), but it's quite comfortable within the world of your one genre. The bands in your genre use a musical vocabulary you can pick up on - and a musical vocabulary that will be sure to leave you baffled when you look at other genres (and not in a good way).

I don't know what the ultimate conclusion is on the blog front, though. It'll probably be as sporadic and random as it's ever been.

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