Music

I was thinking over the list of interests that I posted on the initial post for this blog, as well as on my Gravatar page (http://en.gravatar.com/mattjaems) and the ‘About’ page of the blog. I’ve stated four related areas of interest:

  1. Music
  2. Music-making
  3. The Beatles
  4. Mozart
The area of relation? The first interest kind of also sums up the following three… Firstly, I must distinguish these four interests:
1. – This was with reference to my love of music-listening and appreciation in general. I don’t mean that in a generalist-way; rather I love listening to music: The experience. Having time to consciously enjoy a song or album, or enjoying the mental (& physical) sensations engendered by certain songs/artists, are one of life’s truly amazing and sensational experiences (like sex and eating)! You may notice that I like to indulge in the appreciation of good art, be it in the traditional sense such as a painting, or a comic-book, or an excellent book, or even well-made food… Music-appreciation is no different.
2. – I have been a musician for a long time. I played in school-bands, etc… I’ve played in orchestras (some amateur, some professional), pit-bands, rock-bands, big-/swing-bands, folk-setups, african drumming groups, and more… I’m pretty happy with the experience I’ve gained over the years. Having been a music teacher for 8 years taught me a lot about myself and music-making in addition. I was lucky to be around some prodigious talent as well, and I think that talent inspired me to up my game when I was younger. Music-making is no longer part of my career, and this is something I greatly, greatly lament. When anything is ‘just’ a hobby, it is something that no longer takes priority and often gets put on the backburner. I love playing music, and I miss very greatly the opportunities I had to make music with others. They were many and various, and I wonder if I will ever get that back…
3. – The Beatles, arguably heroes of my original home city, are inspirational in countless ways. The sheer volume of their work, their impact on culture (and the world), the range of emotions they cover; offset by the few years they were actually together and the fact that they didn’t play/read music when they first formed… There are few reasons for me to speak up and say “I’m proud to be British” or “I’m proud to be from Liverpool” – but The Beatles are one substantial reason that I am both.
4. – The time I spent in Germany had a massive effect on me. There’s no doubt at all in my mind that I wouldn’t be doing what I am today if it wasn’t for my family’s move to das Vaterland when I was 10 years old. Musically, it had big impact on me – and I happened to be exposed to a fair amount of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s work from early on. I saw Don Giovanni at age 17 and fell in love. Some of the aforementioned prodigious musical talent to which I was exposed were also inspired by Mozart and this doubtlessly had an effect on me. Comparisons between The Beatles and Mozart aren’t without base – he was a true popstar of his time, at a young age, and melodically I can hear so many similarities between them. The film Amadeus (Forman, 1984) – including Hulce’s incredible, memorable performance as the eponymous hyper-talented and plain hyper composer – only served to cement my love of his work. A few years ago, I ordered the transcriptions-and-translations of Mozart‘s letters and diaries: The bond was sealed forever.
I’d like to use this opportunity to provide a retort to an old friend’s assertion that the legend Beethoven is better – Comparing Beethoven with Mozart is like comparing apples to oranges. Mozart was principally a classical composer. Beethoven‘s works were all romantic. Beethoven was part of the transition from classical music to romantic music. Beethoven‘s sophistication and talent lies, in my opinion, in his pushing music creation to be increasingly reliant on motivic development. However, Mozart wrote more than six-hundred musical works and I’ve never heard one that is less-than-great. His talent has never been surpassed in 200 years. Beethoven was an innovator; Mozart a young, unbridled genius whose flame was extinguished early on.
Specifically stating The Beatles and Mozart was simply to reflect my particular love for these two musical talents. They are, for me, often close to perfection. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy other good music, or even to say that I obsess about the Scouse supremos or the German genius (really, whole days go by where I don’t listen to them! 😉 ), just that my particular interest in them justified individual entries in my list of interests…
Additionally, when I realised that it could seem from this list that I only listen to The Beatles and/or Mozart that I had a responsibility to the rest of the music-making world to demonstrate my devotion to it. In fact, nothing could be further from this ostensible obsession: A glance at my CD collection will quickly demonstrate my broad and varied interest. For me, good music is what I’m into – live or recorded, but the genre isn’t necessarily important. Of course there are genres that I generally prefer over others, and this also changes with time, I’ve noticed (e.g. – my leanings towards Ska has lessened slightly in the past few years…). And then, also, different times of the day/week/month/year see me gravitating towards different genres, artists or even albums/tracks! So too, emotional states…
So I’ve established the ‘Music’ category on my blog so I have a spot to write about different artists/albums that are on my mind at that moment. Over time, I hope to build up a good impression of my musical tastes. This may include The Beatles or Mozart, but not in deference over other favourites.

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