In the 3 levels of music, 1 is ignorable and 2 are not.
As I see it, there are three levels of music.
Bad music distracts like the humming of a common appliance or the yapping of a small dog and cannot be ignored. Technical deficiencies, unhoned songs, underdeveloped skills, and lack of attention to details incite the listener to quickly find the source of pain and snuff it out. Amateurs, delusional artists, and tone-deaf listeners don’t believe there is such a thing as “bad” music.
Good music is ignorable. Attention–demanding activities like reading, writing, or working can be accomplished while listening to “good” music. If musicians, engineers, and producers perform their jobs at industry–acceptable levels, their efforts are enjoyed as soundtrack material or supplemental background ambience like one of the those sleep noise machines. Most every musician is completely content to reach this level.
Great music (like bad music) cannot be ignored. Great music transcends, consumes, and demands. It interrupts conversations, moves bodies, chills skin, persuades minds, breaks hearts, inspires change, incites envy/jealousy, and peels back the heavens in holy awe. In the presence of “great” music only one thing can be done: listen.
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“He buzzes like a fridge. He’s like a detuned radio.”
— Radiohead, “Karma Police,” OK Computer
The following paragraphs are from an entry in my journal on June 14, 2008, which I am posting it here as a public reminder to myself. The great problems of the world are not the result of the actions of an easily-fingered cast of evil-doers, but by the failing of average everyday folks like me […]
The following paragraphs are from an entry in my journal on June 14, 2008, which I am posting it here as a public reminder to myself.
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The great problems of the world are not the result of the actions of an easily-fingered cast of evil-doers, but by the failing of average everyday folks like me to imagine anything different than the current set of circumstances. We grossly mistake the root of our troubles by demonizing a select few, whose ignoble traits are glaringly obvious, and which conveniently distract attention from our less conspicuous, yet equally ugly inclinations.
If we only dared to believe that life could be different and then acted on that very realistic hope. Though life’s grinding would not cease, its sting could be lessened or alleviated. Whether it be for the fear of change, love of the status quo, a lack of imagination, care, or hope, the problem lies within us, not outside.
If we wish to get better, this is how we must diagnose and treat the disease which afflicts us all: by believing that it must be fought and then continually conquered in our own hearts, minds, and spirits first.
Maybe this is the entire war? Perhaps the conflict is always within and only truly winnable there – never on the foreign soil of other people’s minds. Aren’t our own selves all (or really more) than we can control anyway?
Are we completely giving over ourselves to the notion of creating a better world? Or have we designated some portions of the battle as someone else’s job? Do we see any problem as someone else’s issue or do we recognize them all, no matter how grand or insignificant, as our own?
With each dollar we spend, smile we give, and trust we offer, we ultimate cast our votes in small, but critical measures for the type of world in which we wish to live. We are creating this world by the manner in which we think and do.
Is our world full of fear, distrust, greed, and anger? Or are we, by conscious belief and action, redefining a new order of life? Are we giving birth to something beautiful or giving in to what we think is inevitable? Are we proffering hope or hopelessly accepting that nothing will change, knowing that as such, we will always get what we have always got? Are we willing to accept the outcome of our decisions?