Thursday, 14 January 2010

Number 2

About music, a constant source of solace.

Music is astounding. There are very few people who have no appreciation of it. I've been interested as far as I can remember, since there was a piano in my New York apartment when I was five years old. I'm nothing special, but music has made me cry and laugh as much as any great drama, even when it is wordless. Everyone must be interested in this experience, or at least I've never met anyone who never listened to music for pleasure (although of course, animals being variable, there will be some of us with amusia). Actually amusia sounds quite fun...

So why do we like it? No-one really knows quite why certain sequences of sounds can effect us so profoundly (see this post), but we should all agree that it's marvellous.
And I think engaging in producing music, from singing along to conducting an orchestra, is even more satisfying. Again, I've no real good idea why. It's a neuropsychological question that I could only partially explain; it has a foundation in the idea of flow: being totally consumed in a concentrated activity (more about this later in a post on sport). But if you've never really experienced true involvement, I couldn't reccomend it enough. The sense of release can be ecstatic. I think dance can come close to this feeling, but I've only rarely been there (mostly with the help of actual ecstacy), and it's much more tiring.
You don't have to be trained to play music, you can start with clicking fingers and humming a melody and go from there, more rhythms and fresh sounds will come to you in time, and you'll fall deeper in love. Well, I can't promise you will, but it's pretty much proven that it'll be good for you *.
With a computer you can do even more: the program that's freely available to download below lets you do pretty much anything with sound. It's fairly confusing at first, but the tutorials are good and you'll soon get used to it:
Neurotopia post on music

Of course a post on music wouldn't be complete without linking to some of my favourite songs:

P.S. You can listen to my humble attempts here:  Simile musical myspaz

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