Sunday, December 02, 2007

Music and Influence

I consider myself to be a very opinionated person, but not in a bad way. Just that I have very defined opinions that I like to share, but I expect others to lend their opinions and engage in an interesting dialogue with me. I tell my students that I hope they will disagree with me and engage in debate. I share my opinions with my students, which I expect them to take with a grain of salt. I realize that the freshman under my tutelage will not always understand and may be influenced by my musical opinions, but I try to convey to them that we don't have to like the same music. Recently, I have gotten to the habit of selecting music for playing to my students at the beginning of class, so as to enrich their exposure to different musics and get them to know a bit more about music history. I played one of my favourite bands, Ozma, for my students this week. The point was to illustrate how popular music can be very complicated and interesting and utilize different musical styles and techniques. In this case, the track in question contains pentatonic scales and interesting instrumentation not common in "typical" rock music, such as a prominent melody on the flute. I don't remember how we started talking about music I like to listen to for fun, but someone said to me, 'You like Pink Floyd, right?' This kind of took me by surprise, not because I particularly hate Pink Floyd, but because I don't really identify with people from that musical culture. The music I listen to, predominantly punk rock, is what I am most aurally infatuated with for a reason: I very much identify with that musical culture. I see myself as a punk rock chick who is forced by the constraints of society to dress more conservatively and less artistically than I would want. Anyway, I reacted negatively to this assessment and said, 'No, I don't listen to Pink Floyd!' a bit more emphatically that I would have liked. I now feel guilty about this, because I don't want to influence my students opinions about music. Conversely, I *do* want them to stretch themselves and learn to love new musics and all that the very rich musical world has to offer.

Music has a huge influence on who we are as people, and I think that finding the right kind of music that resonates with your soul tends to help shape you as a person, especially if you have a preponderance to musicality in the first place. Before punk rock, I was just Sammee. After punk rock, I am SAMMEE. I'm a new person. I want the same for my students... but I don't mean to diss their music or ANY music. Yet I am not perfect. I really struggle with appreciating lots of music, esp. R&B and rap. I really can't help it, and I've made a concerted effort.

Students, if you're out there, appreciate your Pink Floyd. But don't forget the rest of your musical palette.

1 comment:

Hucbald said...

Ahhhh. Don't feel guilty. Punk was all about no regrets. I was a roadie for Johnnie Thunders, so I know the philosophy first hand. OTOH, don't get wrapped up in the nihilism. That's a dead end. LOL!

Oh, and I love PF. Please don't sue me.

Currently Listening...

  • Pearl and the Beard
  • The Dodos
  • Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha
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  • Radiohead: In Rainbows

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  • Bill Bryson: A History of Nearly Everything
  • Gabriel Garcia-Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
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