6 Mar 2014, 11:09am

A Little Personal History, part 8, amusical

People say that the particulars make stories the most universal. Not just a girl in a street but Mindy who is 12 on a bicycle on cul-de-sac on a day that just might rain but it hasn’t although it seems to have tried twice.

Twice I’ve been in workshops when we were to put our greatest fear in a hat. In one circle, 3 of us said fear of enclosed spaces, 2 even describing a similar space.

People often feel strange and unique rather than strange and beautiful. What does that? 5 months of winter so the number of unique snowflakes just add up to a logistical nightmare in concrete terms and sullies the metaphor?

Is it possible to hate music? I’ve declared it. I have a thing against music. It’s not as simple as an aversion. People sometimes exclaim that it’s not human. Music defines humans. Except other animals play with song and rhythm and voice as well. But never mind that.

I also have an aversion to meat. I’ve been questioned about meat over the years and on admitting I’ve tasted beef, pork, turkey and chicken, been told I’m not vegan and on admitting I probably have had meat a dozen times in 15 years, so am told I am vegetarian. What to do with other people’s definitions. I’m functionally amusical.

I once took a test to measure how well I distinguish tones being the same. You know that typical bell curve graph? I was way on the low side far left.

I’m remarkably unknowledgeable of instruments, bands, musicians, songs. Or so people remark. At parties conversations have broken out, do you remember where you were when this was a hit and people share stories. And I’ve never heard the song before in my life.

In a way its self-perpetuating. I am shut out because I shut myself out. You can’t make an old friend instantly. Reading about it later isn’t the same as experiencing it in the real time with others en masse. People list their favorite albums and I can’t tell which name is album and artists. Hundreds of names and I haven’t the foggiest. Or I collocated as far as I should know that is a musician. Some names come often enough that I feel I should look them up. Like Tom Waits. I don’t get the appeal but I could see how in a world where voices are supposed to be clear and peppy, croaky might be a nice flavour.

I generally value knowledge but this ignorance was intentional for various reasons. Maybe it was what I needed to do at the time. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe it was a mistake that I needed to do.

Partly, originally, it was religious and suspicion of anything distracting from God. Music is a drug and I didn’t want a part. Partly I hated being manipulated. I’d be in a fine mood and be knocked out of orbit by a song and spiral down and not be able to get back up. I resented that, especially when it was muzak that no one was hearing anyway. I don’t see the appeal in the same da-DUM da-Dum and repeating chorus that repeats the same half dozen lines. I like high density content.

If there are going to be words, I like to hear them. Any lyrics impede my ability to think, or compose or read. I find that frustrating. If I do hear the words and “baby” referring to a woman is it in it, I see red and it impedes the rest of my life while I try not to seethe and rant.

Lyrics knocks the verbal out of me and I value my verbal as my primary identity. Which makes me fear a stroke in Broca’s area. A fret since I was a child. 80 years anticipating something that may never happen. What a waste of energy.

I spent years deliberately walking out of step to the ambient music just because resistance isn’t futile. It was something I could do. It was a bit of power and control I could exert.

Why should it land as it does? I like unique things, not repetition. I can’t watch a movie or tv show or have the same conversation again with grace. It follows that hearing the same song the same way would be similarly unnatural. Nature is flux, variation not injection moulded, timeless identical replays.

Live non-electrical music I understand. It’s communication. It’s quiet. If the audience is small I am part of the music. If it is canned music, my presence doesn’t affect anything. If many people are paying attention to a genre of music, for cultural survival, that’s covered. I’m not needed. I’d rather look after other knowledge.

I think I get what others get from music from language itself.

For music I can used to be able get my back up pretty fast with pop or rock. Much of classical grated on my nerves. Country takes a particular rare fleeting mood. Maybe I didn’t find the right music. To my surprise I like Stoner Rock, Doom, Sludge and whatever that is. I probably wouldn’t like it in concert since concerts are too loud. I get all wobbly nauseas in loud noise.

I love silence or the silence of a forest where there’s only leaves and small sounds of other species living. Why should that comfort be blotted out by recorded heartache. Maybe I’m too sensitive. Maybe I am where I am until the whole bloody aggregate shifts for its own sluggish reasons and time.

Examining is itself change.

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