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WRONG NOTES: a blog of ear reverence

Wrong Notes collects posts on music, art, culture and fun stuff. Also included: news about the Ear Reverends.

On music appreciation

If you love music, you play music.

The more you love music, the more you want to actively make it heard—heard by yourself and by potentially others and everyone.

A quick aside: let us briefly note that this is the essence of any "music business"—give people a way to participate in making music they love, that is so great / convenient / novel / special / sharable / fun / etc., that they will pay for the opportunity. . .

So, we push the play button or hire a musician to play a party or are musicians ourselves. Even most passively (we enter a room where someone else has put on music, or we walk past a musician on the street, etc.), when we notice and respond to the sound, we become co-creators of the music. If we like it, our ears perk up, and we may clap along, nod our heads to the rhythm, dance, sing our favorite phrase, or get others to hear it as well—we are playing a part in the music too.

As a musician, when I hear music I love, I not only want to play it on the stereo or join with it in concert, but I also want to play music on musical instruments. Sometimes that means playing the same music I've heard—for example, hearing a song and then learning to play it on guitar. But, more typically, I want to create new music, influenced by what I've heard.

So, given all of this, I always have a question about how much to talk or write about the music I love. I always want other people to know that music too, but talking and writing about music, in words, feels so inadequate compared with what I want to say in music. I generally find it pretty frustrating to talk or write about music.

But, I think I am going to write about the music I love a bit more here on Wrong Notes, because I see a need to get the word out. I wish I were productive musically in a way that I could quickly and fully say what I want about other's music through my own music. My ideal would be to be like Jimi Hendrix performing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" on June 4th, 1967—only three days after the Beatles' album came out.

(Here's a video of Hendrix playing the song a bit later that year, in December '67:)

Some more thoughts on writing about music

What I hope to write will not be music criticism, but will be music appreciation.

I sometimes enjoy music criticism, but I basically find its goals to be, very frequently, largely un-musical! In the larger scheme of things, that's OK in that music criticism can be great writing and one can enjoy it as such. But, at its musical-worst, music criticism is writing that convinces you to not play music. At its worst, it suggests that thinking and talking and writing about music are more important and/or better than playing music.

And, I don't have any interest in producing music criticism in that sense.

As an example of writing about music I find encouraging, I can point to Tom Moon's 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. You can enjoy his writing as writing, but Tom's writing constantly makes me want to stop reading and start playing!

So, as I write more about music, I'll point back to here as my footnote about why I'm not reviewing or critiquing the music I am writing about. For me, the goal of the writing is music appreciation—play music now!


I enjoy how much music is part of our lives now; and definitely looking forward to hearing more new music from you in 2010!

Here’s one vote for more musical appreciation on Wrong Notes.  I am always looking for new music and love it when someone I know well gets excited about a band or piece of music. Even though it may not be for me, I still want to know what they appreciate. In your case Jay, we share some tastes and I respect your insight when it comes to music. It pushes me into new music that may not have discovered or appreciated otherwise.

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