Whether you like all music or not…
A friend of mine (not actually a musician) had been speaking to some classical player who opined (something to the effect) that a good musician should like all music. My friend has now taken this on board as dogma, and with that questionable wisdom has, in a small way, questioned my credibility as a player.
I reject this, but not actively as my mate can be a rather dogmatic person (but decent and honest, which all comes with the package.) So I just shrug my shoulders and change the subject. No point, some people you can’t change.
Anyway, to explore this further. This is what I say.
We are under no obligation to like *anything*, never mind everything. We are just creatures with big brains. My view is there is no contract with the divine with regard to personal aesthetics. Freedom of choice has been granted to us.
A good example is Glenn Gould, the phenomenal pianist, interpreter of much of JS Bach’s works. To some Gould was considered somewhere on the autistic spectrum whilst other biographers refute this. Whatever. Gould liked only some composers and not others. In fact mostly Bach and some late Beethoven. In fact, he didn’t even like some of his own recordings of Bach pieces. And yet, for what he did do, he was brilliant. But definitely not eclectic.
As a player of Irish (and some Scottish and even some English) trad music on flute whistle and accordion, I feel, with my rather limited talent, I need to specialise. That means I focus my listening *mostly* on Irish flute whistle and box playing, but not exclusively. I also listen to fiddles, pipes and banjos etc. But I also get sidetracked into listening to stuff like French, Italian and Tejano box playing. And then from Tejano the adventure travels into Ranchero and Mariachi, then Cuban, Columbian, Chilean and so on. Going off in another direction, Hank Williams looms large. In another, le mystere des voix bulgares’ polegnala e todora, or maybe Mikis Theodorakis, in another The Pogues, etc….. so maybe now you get my drift.
But there is also a lot of music I don’t like. Heavy metal, most punk, The Smiths, Elvis Costello, most post-1980’s pop (except Abba!) And not only that. A lot of so-called "folk music"!
And: Shock of Shocks! - a lot of Irish and Scottish trad, played on said liked instruments. Flute, box and fiddle. And even a fair number of Irish trad tunes! I have been seen to sit out some tunes at sessions because I associate them with some players I personally dislike, maybe they are thicko UKIP or Trump supporters or just rude assholes. So I don’t play their tunes. How sad is that? Am I just a big kid?
Not sad at all. Not a big kid. I will explain.
Music is a science and an art. The science bits are all the technical stuff, frequencies, harmonics and much more, and that’s all important, but not on the agenda right now. The art part is what you do with the sciency-stuff to make it do things to other people. To elicit an emotional and/or intellectual response. How emotions are aroused are due to what they are associated with.
So if someone starts up a tune, say, The Road to Recovery, The Twelve Step Plan, The Cat Among the Pigeons or The Virus-infected Washerwoman, and if my perception is that the version I’d heard was mostly associated with a Nigel Farage fan, give me one good reason why, with that association, my lips should curse my flute with such poison.
Thanks for reading, sorry all that hot air amounted nothing in particular, except, you like what you like and you don’t like what you don’t like. But sometimes try and go beyond your comfort zone and give new stuff a whirl.
Yep, it could all have been said in about 2 or 3 sentences but I feel better for the catharsis.