Warning: I didn’t proofread or edit this before I uploaded it.
I had these thoughts long ago when I was discussing my musical tastes with my friends. I was telling them about how I disliked the usual genres of music but I couldn’t really come up with a reason why.
The other day, while I was washing my sheets, I was listening to Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto when I realized something. I don’t listen to music from a listener’s perspective–I listen to music from the viewpoint of a performer. I was listening to the concerto and imagining myself playing it in front of a large crowd of people, backed by a professional orchestra.
In some ways this perspective strengthens your appreciation for the music, but what usually follows imagining performing a piece is imagining practicing it. And if you’ve heard Tchaikovsky’s first piano concerto, you’ll understand why I couldn’t enjoy listening to its recording that night. It’s technical. Dauntingly difficult.
Yet I went to the Seattle symphony last night and I watched it performed live. The performance was magnificent but I still found myself having trouble enjoying it. Watching a performance live is much different from listening to a recording. Sure, it’s much more glorious, but it’s also much more showing. Instead of listening to the music, I was watching his hands. Instead of being in awe of his skill, I was seething in jealousy and disappointment in myself that it wasn’t me that was up there. The performer is only a year older than me. Will I be up there in a year? Why can’t I be?
It took me a pretty long time to figure out why I think this way. It’s because I trained myself to do it. Even when I listen to rock and other genres, I’ll imagine myself playing the instruments I hear and I’ll imagine myself playing a solo in front of a million fans. This is probably why I don’t like electronic music or contemporary pop music. Each generation we move further and further away from performable instrumentation in music.
I look back with a tinge of regret. I wish I hadn’t trained myself only to appreciate music that can be performed. It makes it really difficult to relate to people who listen to pop music.
But now I’m just rambling. More on this …. some other day.