Folk vs pop vs classical etc

Started by SueC, April 04, 2021, 09:50:06

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SueC

I thought I'd float this here.  We've currently got someone with us for over a week who's about the same age as us and a recently begun acoustic guitar student (having obtained that, a saxophone and a keyboard and finding he gelled best with the acoustic guitar).  So he's set himself the goal to be able to play three simple songs around the campfire by the end of the year.  I'm a basic fiddle player who got out of practice in five years of owner-building a house and am perpetually trying to get back into it properly, and Brett and I both love music, so we're having great conversations with this guest.  (And he asked me last night, "When you two got home after your hike, you played a couple of songs on the stereo - did that happen to be The Cure?"  ...and we weren't playing their radio songs!)

He was saying to me he'd read about the effect of music on the brain and that pop music was essentially like junk food for the brain.  He said that the patterns commonly played in pop were simplistic and had addictive qualities, and went into - I don't know if it was keys or something else, and he's not entirely sure about the way to put it yet either as none of us here are really au fait with the vocabulary around this level of discussion - anyway, that it's based around this handful of very basic patterns which are kind of prefabricated, unlike folk music which has far more patterns and complexity (classical is a bit less diverse than folk like that, it seems that when a type of music makes "rules" it limits what is done and in turn, that explains why I've frequently liked contemporary bands who've had self-taught members who weren't railroaded into the usual patterns).

♦ ♥ ♦

I'm going to just meander all around the shop for a bit but will get back around to the thing I'm trying to express.  My first instrument was recorder because that's what was taught at our primary school.  It's a bit of a sad instrument when beginners play it, and a bit limited in general, but it's really good for children to start making the neural pathways in the brain around notes and music.  So because of that, I pretty early on learnt to pick up tunes by ear.  We also had excellent singing tuition in primary school, and the person I had for my class teacher in Year 1 and 2 in primary school was a 7+ instrument multi-instrumentalist - that was her hobby, and she was actually a fantastic teacher of grammar, spelling, mathematics and art as well, and made pretty much everything she taught us interesting - fantastic teaching techniques and sense of humour, and a really warm human being.  She played accordion, acoustic guitar, piano, harmonica, recorder and various related instruments, xylophone and various types of percussion - and all of them very competently, and she incorporated that into the classroom in various ways.  She also taught us to sing, basic choir plus folk polyphony etc - even after we left her class to go to Year 3 etc, we could go back to her for group music lessons.  And it was so lucky to have ended up in her class, for all sorts of reasons, not just because of the music.

The Year 3/4 teacher whose class I was in was decidedly unmusical and a huge step backwards with what she was trying to do with us.  One of the first things she got us to sing was a German nursery song for toddlers similar to "Baa Baa Black Sheep" - just inane if you're now 8, 9 years old and you had the teacher we had for our two foundation years.  "Baa Baa Black Sheep" is very like jingles and pop songs that way - it's just boring and brain-dead, to me.  This teacher was also a sociopath - I recognise that in hindsight - she was obsessed with domination and control, and derived pleasure from humiliating her students, e.g. I vividly remember her handing out the dictation exercise books and stopping to smirk at Jacob, a shy blonde boy in our class who I now realise was dyslexic - he simply couldn't come to grips with spelling and got poor grades at it - and as she handed Jacob his book she said, with that evil smirk of hers and a trilling, mocking voice, "So, Jacob, are you going to fail again today?"

OMG, I remember exactly where I was sitting and he was sitting when she said it and the geography of the room, it's all just scorched itself into my memory - I remember the little black cartoon cloud that I perceived forming over my head, and the realisation that this woman was evil and not to be trusted, like a wicked witch in a fairy tale.  I remember the class going really quiet and Jacob starting to cry, and her evident satisfaction at this, and my wish that a thunderbolt would strike her on the spot.  Jacob didn't even attempt to do the dictation that week, he was hunched over his desk crying while the rest of us completed the task in silence.

And I don't have a poker face, and my sense of right and wrong was never for sale, so needless to say, this teacher didn't like me (which was fine by me), and she attempted to needle me in many different ways as well.  So when she forced us to sing "Baa Baa Black Sheep" my distaste at the task must have shown on my face, because she said to me immediately after, with a fake sugary voice, "Didn't you like that song, Sue?"  ...and you're told that you should be honest, so I said, "That's right, I didn't."  Which is when she started to mock me.  "Oh, you're too good for the song, are you?  Know better things, do you?"  And remembering what she'd done to Jacob, I said, "Well, our Year 1/2 teacher had us singing harmonies and polyphonies, and that's so much more interesting than a really basic toddler song."  This was towards the end of the school day, and she then punished me by getting me up in front of everyone and telling me, mockingly, "So sing!  Sing something really interesting for us - YOU teach us, since you're such an expert."

And because I actually never did enjoy being in the spotlight, and especially since the bell had just gone and this was holding everyone up, and I was still so little, and the teacher was willing me to fail, and it was just another exercise in public humiliation, I couldn't do it.  I was so upset I was unable to get my notes right (with our other, lovely, teacher, this had not been a problem), and she laughed disparagingly, and that particular incident made me dread singing in public, particularly solo, for a long, long time after, and is why I ended up going to choirs whenever I had an opportunity, as an adult, to consciously try to undo this damage - because singing with others is fun and deeply human and nobody should take that away from you.

My brain probably spat out these memories when I started writing this because they are topical to all this, especially the grounding in folk and more complex things than basic nursery songs, and not realising that not everyone gets this as a kid, it's sort of the luck of the draw.  But for various reasons including the exposure to complex and very social forms of making music, and music with stories to tell, and music that connects you back to your culture, and I'd say probably my own brain idiosyncrasies, I was never, ever drawn to pop music, not even as a pre-teen (and the teacher herself was neutral on it - obviously not drawn to it herself, but not disparaging either).

My own family wasn't particularly musical - nobody sang or danced, and spontaneous attempts by pre-school me to move to music were shamed and suppressed.  So of course I loved school music lessons, when I got to school-age, especially with the lovely teacher we started out with - and I'm very grateful to her for so many reasons besides music.  ♥

At high school in Australia there were no instrumental or singing lessons for me when I went through, and music classes ended at Year 8 level (the last thing I remember is being tortured with recordings of Holst's The Planets).  Parents of high schoolers at the time had to arrange music lessons and pay for them, and certainly pay for the instruments, as there was no pool like there is in some schools now.  Back in Europe I'd actually been given a pretty large (size of a piano) learner's synthetic organ type keyboard by an older cousin I only met once, on her wedding day of all days - we talked, I age 10, she age 20, the weekend of her wedding, about all sorts of things including a shared love of music we discovered in conversation, and she sprung her learner's instrument on me at the wedding reception (she'd recently upgraded), and my parents grudgingly dis-assembled it and put it in the boot - not that I was ever going to get lessons on it.  But at least I had it for a while, and a friend who was learning piano would come and muck around with me on it, and we'd compose impromptu funeral songs for the butterflies who happened to be dying that time of year (that's as close as I've ever come to Gothic  :winking_tongue) - the instrument actually really lent itself to that.  We'd collect the dead butterflies and put them in matchboxes lined with nice fabric scraps and give them little funerals; my bedroom served as the chapel before we all went out to find a good spot in a garden or field for the burial.  I had this keyboard for about a year; then my parents made excuses why it couldn't come to Australia with us, which I believed at the time but don't anymore - after all, they took everything that meant anything to them, including their (adjective) racing yacht, into whose cabin the keyboard would easily have fitted.

Anyway, so to make up for this neglect, when I was in my first job out of university, I took piano lessons for a while, but found in the first year that the precompartmentalisation of the notes and the way it operated didn't actually suit me, plus I had to practice on a community instrument because I was never going to be able to buy and lug around my own - and I didn't want a synthetic version. A few years later I tried a fiddle, and really took to it.

♦ ♥ ♦

One of the things I like about a violin as opposed to any form of keyboard is the lack of compartmentalisation of the notes.  You have to find everything on it yourself by ear, and assimilate it into muscle memory - there are no frets etc, and when you play a fiddle you can not just accidentally play the wrong note, you can also get the note itself wrong (like in singing).  This is why beginning violinists sound so delightful.   :-D   But the flip side of this and the incredible freedom of it is that you can slide from anywhere to anywhere and potentially do absolutely everything that's contained in the two octaves that are spanned by your four strings in first position (which is where I still play; I had two years' worth of lessons before I started travelling in my 30s, and then sporadic ones for trouble-shooting after that).

I was drawn to violin not through classical music, but through folk - it was after I went to see Riverdance in the mid-90s, and heard this piece:


In classical music, I'd mostly heard violins going "eeeek-eeeek-eeeek" at the back of an orchestra, and didn't care for the sound, and to this day I don't particularly like playing the E-string on a violin except for effective counterpoint (or to torture people I don't like with a particularly piercing impression of an ambulance siren  :evil: - or to hack away at one like in the shower scene of Psycho).  It wasn't till I lived in the same house as some classical buffs for a while when I was 27 that I started discovering many hidden gems in the classical genre that I'd never heard on any form of public broadcast before (and then that same year, actually enjoying some of the classical practice pieces once you get beyond the woeful first third of Suzuki Volume I).  But that's actually pretty much the way it is for me with all the genres - I at best like bits of it very much and most of the rest of it hardly at all - whether folk, classical or contemporary music.

This brings us back to the difference between violins/violas etc, and guitars (which I've never attempted to play):  Lack of frets, lack of pre-compartmentalisation, entirely acoustic so no effects boxes etc; it's all just the pressures you apply or don't apply.  But for a long time I was vaguely baffled by the concepts of chords and chord progressions in guitars, because you don't learn about those as a violin player.  The closest we get to chords is when we're double-stopping/triple-stopping - bowing two or three strings at the same time (not jumping from one to the other).  It seems to me that acoustic guitar players often set a finger pattern and then leave their fingers there and just play the strings for a bit, and then make a different set pattern with their fingers and stay on those for a bit while they play on the strings - which as a violinist I've never done - my fingers are always moving around - occasionally in a folk piece you'll stay put for a little bit because you're repeating notes on different strings, but then you'll move on and generally move your string fingers each time you move the bow.  Anyway, this is something I plan on grilling our guest about.

If it's how I suspect it is, then it's easier to get stuck in set patterns playing an acoustic guitar than a violin, and not just because the notes are pre-compartmentalised.  And I'd guess this has something to do with the pop music patterns he was talking about, which he likened to fast food for the brain.  And with why I quite like a lot of classical acoustic guitar pieces, but dislike a lot of acoustic and otherwise guitars when and as used in pop.

Which brings me to food analogies!


FOOD-MUSIC ANALOGIES

I've always compared pop music to cheeseburgers, pavlovas, white spongy pre-cut sandwich loaf in plastic bags ("constipation loaf"), tinned soup, boiled lollies, imitation raspberry cordial and other modern nutritional nightmares, because to me the two feel the same.  It's cheap and fake and I want to throw up when I have too much of it (and my tolerance to either is low).

Much of classical music (but not the pieces I like) makes me think of Duck à l'orange, Pâté de foie gras, and roast boar stuffed with roast turkey stuffed with roast rabbit stuffed with roast quail stuffed with roast chestnuts.  It's artery-clogging and pretentious and lame, and more about making yourself feel like you're better than the rest of humanity than actually enjoying what you're eating, or feeding your body properly.

Good folk music is like good peasant food - which is also generally my preferred food.  It's a salad thrown together from what's in your garden, it's smoky eggplant layered with fresh tomatoes and zucchini and stretchy mozzarella, with herbs sprikled in and potatoes and cheese on top.  It's apples fresh from the tree, and eggy pancakes in the morning filled with berries and stone fruit, with fresh cream on top.  It's stuff you've grown in the earth and watered and brought home in your basket, or brought home from others who grow food.  There's stories in the food and the music, and terroir - a strong sense of place, and of the soil, and the weather, and the landscape.  There's a lot of covert complexity hidden in the apparent simplicity.

And isn't it funny when you think about it that in each of these cases, the food I'm comparing the music to is also more likely to be consumed by the people who consume the music I've compared it to.

Which is where I will pick this up next time.

(And the contemporary bands I was drawn to the most as a teenager later described themselves as amped-up folk bands, which I thought was interesting then, and now I'm thinking that again!)

Thoughts from readers always welcome!   :)
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on April 04, 2021, 09:50:06He was saying to me he'd read about the effect of music on the brain and that pop music was essentially like junk food for the brain.  He said that the patterns commonly played in pop were simplistic and had addictive qualities...

Uh-oh, where did he read that? Would be my first question...

I never liked this "elitist" thing (like the "classical" fans would say "pop is too simple" etc.), now this is one step further, claiming it was addictive & bad for the brain. First of all: any proof for this is needed.

Quote from: SueC on April 04, 2021, 09:50:06...that it's based around this handful of very basic patterns which are kind of prefabricated, unlike folk music which has far more patterns and complexity (classical is a bit less diverse than folk like that...)

Uh-oh, more proof and explanation needed!! What patterns exactly? How exactly is classical "less diverse"?  :?

It has been known to me that folk musicians made "new" songs out of old songs, by just writing a new lyric for an old tune. That's not very "diverse", eh?

Quote from: SueC on April 04, 2021, 09:50:06Which brings me to food analogies!

Not for me, can't follow your analogies here.

A snippet from an interview with musician/producer/arranger Tim Cross (who worked in all fields from classical to Mike Oldfield a.o.):

QuoteI grew up with classical music. My mother played the piano, my
father had a good baritone voice, and both were very keen on classical
music. From a very early age I loved Mozart, and he is still my
favourite composer, by far. Bach has been a great influence, too; and
until I was 14 I didn't take notice particularly of pop music, because
it seemed pathetically simple in comparison to the achievements of the
baroque, classical and romantic ages of music
. "Honeypie" by the
Beatles was the gateway for me, as it pastiched the 20's dance music
which I quite liked. Then I got into loads of pop bands, and rocky stuff
like Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes, and I really liked a lot of Frank
Zappa. However, I never thought of myself as a jazz musician, as that
was an area of music which I didn't want to investigate. It's very
clever, but I get a bit bored of it after a quarter of an hour. I
started my musical career (after studying composition and harpsichord
at Dartington college of Arts) in the advertising world (as tea-boy,
mood music librarian, editor, and finally composer of "jingles") for a
studio in the west end of London. After 2 years, I went freelance, and
continued to write and record industry music. I met Mike Oldfield early
in 1979, and after auditioning , went on 7 tours with him for the next
four years. I admired his work as it was more experimental and
groundbreaking than what was around at the time; it was musical
journeys, rather than the banality of 3 minute pop songs, which I
admire, but feel I have little talent for.
It's never enough...

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on April 05, 2021, 16:17:29
Quote from: SueC on April 04, 2021, 09:50:06He was saying to me he'd read about the effect of music on the brain and that pop music was essentially like junk food for the brain.  He said that the patterns commonly played in pop were simplistic and had addictive qualities...

Uh-oh, where did he read that? Would be my first question...

(Caution:  Nerd alert! :cool)

It's great that one of the first things you're always trying to do with topics like this is to ask for references - and he didn't read it in a rubbish publication, by the way, or on some random web page - because neither of us actively read that kind of stuff or would think that's worth discussing.  Generally our guest, just like Brett and myself, reads mostly from reputable sources, and has a healthy cynicism.  And when we talk about things like this, we don't try to present them as "fact" - just as stuff worth discussing more widely, and thinking about further.

When you are asking for "proof" (later on in your post), first of all I would use the term "evidence" - since you need to have lots of this before you have a "proof" - the word "proof" applies more to mathematics than to science, since mathematics is an internally consistent self-referenced system where you actually can make proofs (by definition) - whereas the natural world is a complex, open-ended system which you have to approach with observations and inferences before you can even make a decent hypothesis about the particular and fairly narrow thing you want to study - and then you're going to need lots of (good-quality, unbiased - good luck!) studies and peer review, and studies of alternative hypotheses, until you work out which alternative hypothesis has the most evidence behind it (and even at that stage, it's very much possible that nobody has even considered the right hypothesis, or indeed hypotheses, yet).  Eventually down this track you can start making wider theories, and all of this takes years and years.

So that's a little bit about how things are done with the scientific method.  If, as scientists or citizens, we only talked about things which were already proven, we wouldn't be talking about very much at all - since even our best theories have not objectively been "proven" - they're just what the current set of scientists have the most evidence for.

As a person who's spent most of their life in science and science education, I enjoy speculating about all sorts of things and I also have a pretty good nose for what is shonky / pseudoscience / urban myth etc, what is well-thought-out and what isn't, and what is actually worthy of further thought and investigation.

So I don't bring things to any table that I think are complete rubbish, but only things for which there is at least anecdotal evidence, and as in this case, some actual work being done on a subject.  Do I necessarily go back and quote individual studies when I write for a general audience?  Sometimes yes, sometimes no - depends on why I'm writing.  The fully referenced list belongs more to the scientific paper than the think-out-loud free-form piece I might write for my own entertainment, and to throw the cat among the pigeons, and to elicit some thoughts and experiences from other people.  For this piece, I'm just thinking and looking to "collect" ideas - whether from people on this forum, or from real-world discussions with other people.  I'm not presenting a literature review either, just some impressions that came out of a conversation by people who read widely (and can smell shonk), love music and are dabbling in music participation.

And that's how any subject gets fleshed out better in our scientific understanding - by people being curious, and thinking about patterns, and then talking to other people, and perhaps doing some experiments, and thinking some more, etc etc - and eventually, feeding back into formal studies on things.  But even if you're not going to do formal studies, it's always interesting to engage in speculation based on your own experiences, and the experiences of others, and the thoughts and writing already out there.  If you've got that kind of mind, you're always going to do this, and it's a good thing.  :)

If you're looking for studies, look for studies on the effect of music on brain chemistry.  Music engages similar systems to food, love etc, all of which can also get addictive.  ;)



QuoteI never liked this "elitist" thing (like the "classical" fans would say "pop is too simple" etc.), now this is one step further, claiming it was addictive & bad for the brain. First of all: any proof for this is needed.

Proof, already discussed before.  Studies exist - you can look for them if the subject interests you - see above.  (Just like studies exist on the addictive effects of junk foods, or codependency.)

You may not like these ideas, but that in itself doesn't make them wrong - the last thing that people who like McDonald's cheeseburgers want to hear is that they're bad for you (as a standard diet - but by all means eat one in an emergency, or as an occasional treat, if you consider it a treat).  There's lots of already well-established scientific ideas on all sorts of subjects that offend a lot of people - for instance, religious fundamentalists fight tooth and nail against the teaching of Darwinism - for which there is a lot of evidence (but as to whether it is "proven" - that depends on your philosophy - I would say no, but I would say it's our best possible explanation given our current understanding of the world).

By the way:  One famous set of studies (reported in New Scientist etc) looked at the effect of music on the milk production of dairy cows:  Playing classical music to cattle coming in for milking resulted in a measurable increase in milk production compared to other types studied (I can't recall which genres they looked at) or no music at all.  The mechanism that was floated for this effect was that the cows were more relaxed and less stressed with this kind of music; and decreased stress is generally associated with better health and more energy etc (in all sorts of species including ours).  People handling the cattle could see that they were more chilled-out when they were playing classical music in the milking barn, too (and perhaps it even chilled out the handlers and this had a flow-on effect on the cattle).

I've played music to cattle, horses and donkeys myself just for fun (not a formal study, just anecdotal stuff, preliminaries if you like).  They're all curious about music and all of them seem to like the classical and folk from my collection - they go close to the speakers and you can see similar body language to when they're enjoying other stuff (food, back scratches etc).  They don't have the same kind of positive body language when you play them Tool or anything with a loud, insistent beat - that tends to make them nervous - and they have similar body language around that as around scary, unpleasant things like flying plastic bags, falling objects, or me turning up with a worming syringe.

I've taken a violin out amongst various animals to practice to see how they'd respond - and most of them get curious.  There was one mare on someone else's property who had a pretty sad life, and when I stood in the courtyard playing tunes to the nearly 20 horses in their various yards in earshot, she was particularly interested - came as close as she could to the sound, made big eyes, sighed etc.  So I took the violin to her, and got into her yard.  I ended up with the violin on the left shoulder, and the horse's head on my right shoulder, making long sighs and crinkling her eyes with pleasure (eye crinkle = horse smile).  Her breathing slowed right down and she became floppy and relaxed.  She didn't want me to leave - more so than when I just used to go in her yard violinless to say hello.  She liked long, even, open-string notes on GDA but not E (too screechy - and I share that with her).  She also rather liked jigs.  She did not like ambulance siren impersonations or imitations of the Psycho shower scene (even though I think that's fun - but our opinions diverged for those).

Is any of this "proof" of anything? It's not, but there's some interesting observations and patterns there, which are worth thinking about, discussing and investigating further.  :)


Quote from: Ulrich on April 05, 2021, 16:17:29
Quote from: SueC on April 04, 2021, 09:50:06...that it's based around this handful of very basic patterns which are kind of prefabricated, unlike folk music which has far more patterns and complexity (classical is a bit less diverse than folk like that...)

Uh-oh, more proof and explanation needed!! What patterns exactly?

Re patterns, I'm not a guitar student but hear that popular music is based on a very limited number of chords.  That's what I meant by prefabricated components.  Here's a fun demo by people who know more about this than me:


Re your other point:  There always is more proof and explanation needed for all but the simplest phenomena - that's the nature of science - and it's the process that's important, and this kind of stuff is part of the process, whether or not it ends up "proven" or just as something for which there is increasingly good evidence (for which you can do statistical analyses, down the track) - unless it's dismissed entirely (which for the stuff in this topic is unlikely - aspects of it maybe, but not all of it).

Please note that there is way more evidence out there in the world and in the current literature than I'm able to float in one post.  Which is why I say, if the subject interests you, read up about it (reputable sources).  The purpose of this post isn't to present a literature review of current studies, but to look at anecdotal evidence and ideas from various people I'm bumping into, and perhaps even various people from the forum who dabble in music/music participation and perhaps have observations they could share on the effect of various different types of music on their mood, or things they've observed with their pets, etc etc.


Quote from: Ulrich on April 05, 2021, 16:17:29How exactly is classical "less diverse"?  :?

Western classical music is a bit more codified and gentrified in general than the many different types of indigenous (=folk) music from around the globe are collectively - and classical music is generally more preoccupied with rules and doing things "correctly" - and is more "taught" rather than people improvising and anything-goes (as I've noticed hanging with both classical and folk people, including teachers in both who've given me violin lessons) - although of course, you also get improvisers and rule-breakers in the classical genre (and people going on about doing XYZ "correctly" in folk).  Folk music is less of a silo than classical music - it's evolved independently for a long time in hundreds of places around the world, and developed many, many different instruments, styles and traditions.  Australian Aboriginal people were using clap sticks and didgeridoos tens of thousands of years before Western classical music was even a thing.  The total number even of instruments used in folk music around the world exceeds the number of instruments used in classical by orders of magnitude.


Quote from: Ulrich on April 05, 2021, 16:17:29It has been known to me that folk musicians made "new" songs out of old songs, by just writing a new lyric for an old tune. That's not very "diverse", eh?

That's been known to happen in most genres, so it's not really a good argument.  And also in cookery, and knitting, and architecture, and lots of other things, by the way!  :)



Quote from: Ulrich on April 05, 2021, 16:17:29
Quote from: SueC on April 04, 2021, 09:50:06Which brings me to food analogies!

Not for me, can't follow your analogies here.

Well, you are a different person, but I've met a number of people who associate various foods with various types of music.  The next logical step was also to ask, "Do any of these go together in the real world?"


Quote from: Ulrich on April 05, 2021, 16:17:29A snippet from an interview with musician/producer/arranger Tim Cross (who worked in all fields from classical to Mike Oldfield a.o.):

QuoteI grew up with classical music. My mother played the piano, my
father had a good baritone voice, and both were very keen on classical
music. From a very early age I loved Mozart, and he is still my
favourite composer, by far. Bach has been a great influence, too; and
until I was 14 I didn't take notice particularly of pop music, because
it seemed pathetically simple in comparison to the achievements of the
baroque, classical and romantic ages of music
. "Honeypie" by the
Beatles was the gateway for me, as it pastiched the 20's dance music
which I quite liked. Then I got into loads of pop bands, and rocky stuff
like Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes, and I really liked a lot of Frank
Zappa. However, I never thought of myself as a jazz musician, as that
was an area of music which I didn't want to investigate. It's very
clever, but I get a bit bored of it after a quarter of an hour. I
started my musical career (after studying composition and harpsichord
at Dartington college of Arts) in the advertising world (as tea-boy,
mood music librarian, editor, and finally composer of "jingles") for a
studio in the west end of London. After 2 years, I went freelance, and
continued to write and record industry music. I met Mike Oldfield early
in 1979, and after auditioning , went on 7 tours with him for the next
four years. I admired his work as it was more experimental and
groundbreaking than what was around at the time; it was musical
journeys, rather than the banality of 3 minute pop songs, which I
admire, but feel I have little talent for.

So that's someone who grew up in the silo of classical, doing things "correctly" - and then discovered that there is good contemporary music, with complexity and nuance, outside his home genre.  And he's not listening to solely "typical pop" here (typical - look at Top 40).  Pink Floyd (and Mike Oldfield) don't play "pop" music - and don't usually chart in the Top 40 "pop" songs or get played on "pop" stations.  And if anything, Pink Floyd are "elitist" in a similar way to classical - in that people who are serious and don't like things that look, taste or sound like bubble gum are drawn to their music.  Generally, if I'm with real music buffs and say I like Pink Floyd, I get kudos for it, but is that really deserved?  And how is that different from getting kudos for liking Bach?

You see how discussions like this end up examining the assumptions of everyone participating?

Thank you for pushing back.  It's exactly what's needed in a process like this.  :)
SueC is time travelling

SueC

I've asked some friends with animals to report back with any observations on the topic of animals and music / different types of music, and had something lovely come in just then:

QuoteGrowing up, there was a lot of piano playing which the animals seemed indifferent to.
The parakeets and finches I've owned always loved music on the radio and would freak out if I played a song often and it came on. So they definitely recognized certain songs.

The dogs always seemed to love the violins, even when my brother and I were first learning to play. We had three dogs at the time, and they would come from wherever they were and lie down at our feet while we played. My Papillon also curls up and sleeps next to me whenever I play.

The cats hate the violin. Kikko gets up and leaves if he is anywhere in the vicinity, and he will sometimes meow and complain loudly as he walks off to find somewhere to sleep far away. The cats love the cello, and will sleep very close by when DH is playing. Apparently the difference in pitch is a big thing for them.
The parakeet and finch like both the violin and cello. I've never tried playing for horses.

I'm sure you've seen the videos on Youtube about how much elephants enjoy listening to piano playing.
 

SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Well, I don't care if it's called "proof" or "evidence", but unless there is something "solid", words like "addictive" or "bad for brain" are just another "theory".

In my experience, people often use such "theories" to tell us how "good" the music they happen to like is (or in fact, so much "better" than what others listen to!), i.e. the "elitist" part (again).

Honestly, it is well possible that (in music science) folk music has more diverse "patterns" than other music. However I still won't listen to it, unless I do like it.

I've met a few music scientists in my life, however none of them has ever tried to tell me which music is "better" than other music. And I'm glad about that!

I admit I used to be "snobbish" about other music, but with time I realised that if somebody truly loves something I don't like, so what? As long as they're happy with this music, why should I care?
(It might be different if bands I like, as The Cure for example, had no fans at all and I would have to worry about them having to stop making music...)

What I still don't like, is when I get the feeling that I've been "cheated" (e.g. "boy-groups" or "girl groups" being put together by producers and record companies to make big money).

Other than that, I really don't care what people listen to. I'm just happy if I can find some "like-minded" people who like "similar" stuff I listen to (hence this forum, for example).

On a side-note, Mike Oldfield has had lots of Top 40 hits (e.g. "Moonlight Shadow" 1983, "Innocent" 1989), of course the stuff T. Cross refers to are his more "complex" compositions.
It's never enough...

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46Well, I don't care if it's called "proof" or "evidence", but unless there is something "solid", words like "addictive" or "bad for brain" are just another "theory".

Here's what I actually said in my initial post:  He was saying to me he'd read about the effect of music on the brain and that pop music was essentially like junk food for the brain.  He said that the patterns commonly played in pop were simplistic and had addictive qualities...


"Bad for brain" was not explicitly mentioned - just "junk food" because there are actual similarities - but since you bring it up, I am wondering whether some types of music are better for the brain than others, in general - we already know that some types of music are better for relaxation, others for getting energised, yet others to promote concentration - and most of us would know that from personal experience, without having to read any studies which were done on the subject.  Of course, you could expect a lot of variation between different people, it's very complex; and also it's best to specify what exactly something is better for, instead of just "in general"...

"Addictive" is an easier one.  You and I know coffee is potentially addictive, and chocolate, and television, but we don't swear off all of them entirely.  Still, it's helpful to know that the potential exists, and to put limits around these things so they don't backfire on us - like often choosing healthier choices, such as a glass of water, an apple, and a hike in the hills. :)

I thought it was fascinating when I learnt as a young person that it wasn't just substances that can be addictive, because our brain chemistry itself can make all sorts of things addictive, and give you similar results to substance intoxication or substance dependency without the use of actual substances.  And on the flip side, various activities promote wellbeing by promoting good patterns in the brain. :cool

And I enjoy test driving various theories... :yum:


Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46In my experience, people often use such "theories" to tell us how "good" the music they happen to like is (or in fact, so much "better" than what others listen to!), i.e. the "elitist" part (again).

Yes, that's human nature, and it's a problem.  We humans have got this thing called a confirmation bias, which makes us subconsciously look for data that confirms our pet opinions and theories, and push away data that would make us reconsider.  You have to be trained out of it, or train yourself out of it, and it's not a perfect process.  We can improve and use metacognition to look at what we're doing from a sort of "helicopter view" - but we never become immune to these biases.


Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46Honestly, it is well possible that (in music science) folk music has more diverse "patterns" than other music. However I still won't listen to it, unless I do like it.

Well, you and me both.  With any music!  Although I do make a point of getting people to explain to me why they listen to things that I personally dislike, so I can see what they see in it and perhaps appreciate it from a theoretical perspective, and become less of a snob!  ;)

I even went to an opera once although I actually don't like opera in general.  It was just to give it a go, and anyway, this was a free performance in Sydney's Botanical Gardens.  It didn't improve on me, but occasionally it's good to dip your toes in different water.


Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46I've met a few music scientists in my life, however none of them has ever tried to tell me which music is "better" than other music. And I'm glad about that!

Well, scientists won't usually try to make such generalisations - and what my guest read didn't, it was just commenting on addictive qualities, and particular simple patterns, and making a junk food comparison - the guest tells me, for the reason that they found similar brain chemistry was triggered by "poppy" pop music as is triggered by junk food!

And from there on, it becomes fascinating to think about the possible implications. :cool

But scientists do have some ideas on specific things like what music tends to be better for promoting relaxation, versus what music tends to promote activity.  We say "tends" because the lab rats (the humans) aren't all identical and don't all respond in the same way.


Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46I admit I used to be "snobbish" about other music, but with time I realised that if somebody truly loves something I don't like, so what? As long as they're happy with this music, why should I care?

This is exactly right, and yes, as a younger person I was also snobbish about that, but then turned around and worked on it (still working on it ;)).

The "why should I care" becomes a bit different if I'm being forced to listen to it though...  :1f635:


Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46What I still don't like, is when I get the feeling that I've been "cheated" (e.g. "boy-groups" or "girl groups" being put together by producers and record companies to make big money).

Sort of like the McDonald's business model!  :winking_tongue


Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 10:05:46On a side-note, Mike Oldfield has had lots of Top 40 hits (e.g. "Moonlight Shadow" 1983, "Innocent" 1989), of course the stuff T. Cross refers to are his more "complex" compositions.

Yeah, I forgot about everything but Tubular Bells.  That one was so much "stickier" for me than the more shiny stuff I forgot about...
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on April 06, 2021, 16:05:33I even went to an opera once although I actually don't like opera in general.  It was just to give it a go, and anyway, this was a free performance in Sydney's Botanical Gardens.  It didn't improve on me, but occasionally it's good to dip your toes in different water.

Same here, I went to an opera (several times). Not easy sitting through 4 hours of something you don't really understand, but goes much better when you got someone to explain it to you.  :cool

I went to lots of classical concerts (and sometimes jazz, folk etc. too); the fact that I'm not expecting note-perfect renditions, sometimes made it easier for me to enjoy it than for some of the "experts". :beaming-face

On a side-note: sometimes it bugged me that lots of people complained about rock bands playing nothing but "old stuff". No one ever complained to an orchestra "you only play that old stuff by Mozart etc."!

Quote from: SueC on April 06, 2021, 16:05:33it was just commenting on addictive qualities, and particular simple patterns, and making a junk food comparison

That sounds less negative and "elitist" than when you posted first "He was saying he'd read..."! (To me at least, so that is very subjective.)

Quote from: SueC on April 06, 2021, 16:05:33And from there on, it becomes fascinating to think about the possible implications.

Not to me, no.  :1f636:

Btw, what I really wanted to say: "Country & Western" is all utter shite. :winking_tongue
It's never enough...

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on April 06, 2021, 17:23:17Same here, I went to an opera (several times). Not easy sitting through 4 hours of something you don't really understand, but goes much better when you got someone to explain it to you.  :cool

Yeah, which is why things also go much better when people explain them to me here - e.g. I naturally really don't take to Siouxsie & The Banshees, it's just not got any of the qualities I really love about music personally, but Brett likes them, and you and @piggymirror like them, and you even managed to find tracks I halfway liked - could actually enjoy a bit in that situation with you guys in the virtual room.  But do I put it on my playlist ever after?  No, not in this case, but sometimes yes, you can be "converted" to a song or a sound, or you can start to really like something you used to hate (e.g. Why Can't I Be You :lol:).

Getting students to explain why they like what they like to you when you're doing a class music project has also been really educational.  I still remember the earnestness with which a 15yo explained Metallica to me, and trying to look through the eyes of some of the girls who liked very poppy pop, their choices of which actually had a really positive message in the lyrics.  :)

PS:  Brett thinks opera would go better with alcohol.  :lol:  Actually, I once went to a pub with a friend as a young person and the music was so bad I suddenly understood why people drink in pubs... :winking_tongue


Quote from: undefinedI went to lots of classical concerts (and sometimes jazz, folk etc. too); the fact that I'm not expecting note-perfect renditions, sometimes made it easier for me to enjoy it than for some of the "experts". :beaming-face

Yeah well:



Something they say here as a joke:  An "expert" is a drip under pressure.  (Wordplay on "spurt")

I suppose experts are often looking for things to criticise, instead of things to appreciate, things to enjoy.


Quote from: undefinedOn a side-note: sometimes it bugged me that lots of people complained about rock bands playing nothing but "old stuff". No one ever complained to an orchestra "you only play that old stuff by Mozart etc."!

ROFL :lol:


Quote from: undefinedBtw, what I really wanted to say: "Country & Western" is all utter shite. :winking_tongue

Bwahahaha!  Yeah, that's a hard one to like, but I have friends who live in places where that's their culture, and they've found me things that even I could halfway like after the cultural induction I got with it.  Sort of like Siouxsie & The Banshees!  ;)
SueC is time travelling

Ulrich

Quote from: SueC on April 07, 2021, 01:07:17PS:  Brett thinks opera would go better with alcohol. :lol:

Not really. (Might make me fall asleep faster.)
But one time I had a coffee in the break, which really helped to stay awake during the next part. (It was a hot day and you're crammed into these seats/rows...)

Quote from: SueC on April 07, 2021, 01:07:17Yeah, that's a hard one to like, but I have friends who live in places where that's their culture, and they've found me things that even I could halfway like

Of course my comment was "over the top", there is some "likeable" stuff out there even in C&W or heavy metal!  :P
It's never enough...

SueC

Quote from: Ulrich on April 07, 2021, 16:36:48
Quote from: SueC on April 07, 2021, 01:07:17PS:  Brett thinks opera would go better with alcohol. :lol:

Not really. (Might make me fall asleep faster.)

Well, this may have been his point!  :evil:


Quote from: undefinedBut one time I had a coffee in the break, which really helped to stay awake during the next part.

ROFL  :lol:


Quote from: undefined(It was a hot day and you're crammed into these seats/rows...)

Sounds like flying economy class!  I wonder how much deep vein thrombosis is caused by opera?   :yum:
SueC is time travelling

SueC

...and here's some more feedback from people with animals whom I asked about how their animals responded to music.

QuoteI first played music to Mama Pepper (...this is her milking cow) when I milked, and it did settle her a bit, but oddly it was when I started listening to sermons and podcasts that she really settled down. She does like something to be playing though, and is a bit more antsy if it is completely quiet or I am on the phone. It does not make her up production though.

Cashman (...big chestnut working ranch horse and quite a character) really likes music, and I ride to it part of the time. He is less spooky and more agreeable with music, but he does complain at certain songs. He lets me know if he doesn't like it, and harder rock and that type of thing does not appeal to him.

Queen (...rather regal yearling filly) likes music that goes with her attitude best. I think she's a rap fan, and I laugh listening to Lizzo with her ("I just took a DNA test), because that's definitely her song. Another rap song, "she's my best friend" makes me laugh with Queen, because it very much explains her.

I don't like rap though, so it's rare she gets the treat. The only reason I know their choices of music I don't prefer is because I will let pandora pick music for me, and often I am too busy to skip.

Bones (...a circus horse pretending to be a ranch horse) is give or take. He settles a bit with music, but I don't think he actually enjoys it. An old horse I had called General actively disliked music (his condescending nature of course looked down on things of joy lol).
SueC is time travelling