Writer Goes On ‘Listening Diet’ To Learn To Love Some Music

For most of us, our musical tastes begin quite simply.  Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, B-I-N-G-O, Farmer in the Dell.  Naturally, as we get older, our tastes change and mature.

Just like our taste in foods evolve, who remembers sitting before a plate of cooked spinach knowing that it stood between you and dessert?, so, too, does our musical palate.

Since Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring is celebrating it’s 100th anniversary, I will use that as an example.  I’ll wager that if I asked for a show of hands from those for whom Rite of Spring or something similar was the starting point of your classical music listening, I would see very few.  I don’t need to remind you of the “Rite riots.”)

More than likely, it was Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Pachelbel’s Canon, or maybe Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.  Possibly it was Saturday morning cartoons which, in this day of YouTube, no one under 30 will remember when Rossini, Grieg, Liszt, and Wagner accompanied our favorite ‘toons.

Writing recently in the LA Times, a self-professed music buff Adam Baer writes that, as the “socially lucky offspring of professional pianists,” he has, “survived music school, performed songs for actual money and worked in radio as well as been a critic passionate about today’s composers.”

He says that his deep, dark secret is that there is quite a bit of music he “cannot stand.”

He goes on to cite a study out of Australia which states that we can learn to appreciate music which is sometimes described as “crunchy.”  He decided to accept the challenge and “quickly put (himself) on a possibly horrific listening diet.”

I have listened to quite a large number of recordings during my time in Classical radio.  Like any other style of music, there is good and bad, amazing and amazingly horrible, background music and way-in-the-background music.

However, some of what I found compelling 20 years ago now makes me say, “what was I thinking?”  Other pieces which seemed unlistenable at the time is now familiar and enjoyable.  What changed?  Same music — different ears.

I would be interested in hearing your experiences.  Would you ever try this?  Have you?

Check out Mr. Baer’s article, then let me know whether you have some new favorites, or a migraine.

Read More

  • Can you learn to love music you hate? (LA Times)
  • Changing your tune on music you hateClassical 101

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