Wednesday, February 23, 2005

I had been planning for several days now to write a little diatribe about how iPods represent everything I find wrong with way our society handles music these days. You were only spared because I've been out of the house a lot plus I wasn't sure how to organize my thoughts on it. Well, lo and behold, Andrew Sullivan summed it all up nicely for me this morning. Key quote:

Music was once the preserve of the living room or the concert hall. It was sometimes solitary but it was primarily a shared experience, something that brought people together, gave them the comfort of knowing that others too understood the pleasure of a Brahms symphony or that Beatles album.

But music is as atomised now as living is. And it’s secret. That bloke next to you on the bus could be listening to heavy metal or a Gregorian chant. You’ll never know. And so, bit by bit, you’ll never really know him. And by his white wires, he is indicating he doesn’t really want to know you.

While I think this (possibly) is the more serious of the two points I wanted to make on the issue, the other is the issue of how we have turned music into something which happens at the push of a button, something we have farmed out to profesionals instead of learning to do for ourselves (and for others!).

It has become exceedingly rare, at least among white americans, to find people who sing. Singing is, without doubt, the easiest, most natural form of musical expression. I would assume it is naturally available to virtually everyone. I harbor the suspicion, which I'm afraid cannot prove, that many of those who claim they can't sing suffer from some form of neglect of natural talent, akin, I suppose to saying that one cannot drive. Almost anyone can learn to drive, barring major physical/mental defects. And most of those defect would not prevent someone from singing.

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