land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The unintended consequence of recorded music

While sitting in church listening to the postlude, along with the others who also were sitting quietly listening, I was struck with an awareness of how unusual it is to simply sit and listen to a postlude. Most preludes and postludes are heard as background music while people are being seated or leaving. And often people are talking while this music is being played. We have become accustomed to background music. Supermarkets have mastered the art of background music to help speed up or slow down shoppers. We have music playing on the radio while we drive, we have music playing outside stores during the holidays. Recorded music being played in the background is in more places than we are even aware of it.  Movies have also mastered the use of music in the background of events, forewarning an event, or giving a general sense of mood.
With the advent of recorded music we have lost a level of appreciation of music. It simply has become something we expect, part of our atmosphere, like the air we breathe.
But is also has had the effect of diminishing our appreciation of it. When all music was played live, we heard it less and were more prone to stop and listen and appreciate the musician who was playing the music. It was something more savored and enjoyed more consciously. We tend to inhale our fast food as fuel as well as inhaling without thought our music.
We are learning to eat more mindfully, perhaps we should also adapt such attitudes towards our music. We should appreciate music more that is local and played live.
There is much more of a relationship between a musician and audience when it is live, than when recorded.
The gift of recorded music opens us to more varieties, and possibilities of music and can help expand our understanding of music. But there is this unintended consequence that diminishes to some degree the intentional appreciation of the great importance and value music plays in our life and our role in its making.

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