Sunday, May 22, 2011

The ear of the beholder, part 2

"I found out why that woman walked out on us at the Folk Festival," said Ron the Drummer at yesterday's rehearsal.

My ears perked up. The woman in question suffered from ME/CFS, and the song that drove her away was our ME/CFS advocacy song. I'd been curious as to why ever since I'd heard about it.

"She thought all of our songs were downers," Ron continued, "and 'Everybody Knows About Me' pushed her right over the edge."


OK, "Everybody Knows About Me" is not a cheerful song. In fact, it's pretty over-the-top depressing. On the other hand, Ron and I tried to compensate by making sure every other song we played was energetic and upbeat. The first songs in the set list might have been a little angry in places, but not sad.

After about four seconds of mulling this over, I realized that arguing with the woman in my head was stupid. It's not like she can be wrong about her own emotional response. If the first two songs brought her down, they brought her down.

* * *

I thought about the fleeing woman today when our neighbors started playing mariachi music at top volume. I hate mariachi music. The accordion and bouncy brass and lack of a groove set my teeth on edge. And I can't grasp why anybody else likes it.

Kind of fascinating, really. I accept that musical tastes are subjective. I accept that I'm not right. I accept that the woman at the Folk Festival and my neighbors aren't wrong. I just wish I could figure out what it is that draws other people to things I find so annoying, and what turns them off of things I like.

I wish there were a way for me to hear what they hear.

Of course, if our species had developed that degree of empathy at any point in its evolution, we probably would have achieved world peace by now.

* * *

More on this topic: The ear of the beholder

1 comment:

DeppityBob said...

Like everyone else, I'm sure, I know what you mean. I've tried appreciating music outside my normal boundaries. For instance, rap. I hated rap from the very first rap song I ever heard, "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang. HATED. But I've given it several chances, and there are some I actually like. More than that, though, I can appreciate why people like it. I still wouldn't choose to listen to most of it, but the best rap artists are poets who work beats into their poetry to complete the emotional illustration.

On the other hand, mariachi music... I can listen to that for a few minutes. Then it must go away.