Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

More On Music

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There’s evidence that we stop enjoying novelty as we age. Check out this or this. This expiration date for enjoying new things seems to exist in animals as well as humans. It seems that this desire for novelty in humans and animals corresponds to when they seek mates.

It’s entirely possible that’s why I haven’t enjoyed new music for the last 5 years. Maybe I should just feel happy that I made it to 38 before I lost this part of myself. I think the most disturbing aspect of this explanation is figuring out how to disentangle my sense of identity from music. It’s been one of the most consistent and strong parts of who I am since childhood.

But there’s another explanation that I referenced in my last blog post. As noted my disengagement from new music started around the same time I started playing drums. And as I have cultivated a more sensitive sense of time, I am wondering if I can hear music that has digital time vs music that has human time, or music that’s been digitally synched to have precise and accurate time to the millisecond vs the natural variations in time that a human drummer can keep.

I stumbled upon this theory while filpping dials on the radio. I came across a song that I could not flip past even though I didn’t recognize it. After a minute of listening, I heard a subtle inconsistency on the drums that lead me to believe it was a live recording. The crowd noise that came in at the chorus confirmed it. And despite the recording not being particularly good or to my personal taste, I was engrossed. I cannot put words to why I was so captivated.

It only occured to me later, that perhaps I was captivated by hearing the slight variations of a human drummer. My theory is strengthened by my sudden interest in 70’s rock. While I had respect for Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Three Dog Night, and Led Zeppelin, I’ve found myself extrememly eager to hear them on the radio. Synching to click tracks didn’t become prevalent until the 80’s and 90’s in music production; technology to execute the synching wasn’t readily available until then. So, I suspect my sudden interest in 70’s rock might also be my ear longing to hear slight variation.

I am not alone in being hungry for human time. The trans godmother of electronic music says:

“I find it a great tragedy that the drum machine has replaced real drummers, become so omnipresent to many listeners that they accept the notion of a completely rigid, fascist beat–something that’s like hearing a pile driver or factory equipment. Someone recently closed his jazz club in Berlin after being successful for a lot of years, but he said he’s leaving it now because the current jazz/pop music doesn’t swing. And it doesn’t: quantized rhythm is rigid and mechanical. We’ve become robots, and it’s tragic.” -Wendy Carlos

This woman is fascinating. You can read the whole interview here.

For now I am going to lean in to my new found love of 70’s rock. Life is too short for me to force myself to listen to things that don’t inspire me. Is it because I am too old to hear new music? Maybe. Is it because my ears are tired of the fascist beat? Maybe. Does it really matter which? Probably not. I needed to shed more of my ego anyway. I’ll just look at this as a step on the path.

One thought on “More On Music

  1. I love this. And I love Wendy Carlos. The soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange is still one of my favorite things, 20+ years after first hearing it. I also strongly dislike most (but not all) drum machines. And I love live music, with live timekeeping. I think it really is a thing.

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