Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lessons from the Project pt. 1

Over the last two years, three months, and seven days since I started the Great Listening Project I've learned a few things. Some of them are completely inconsequential, others have had profound philosophical impact. This new, semi-regular series will highlight those insights.

Tastes change. And of course I mean the obvious "I used to like Anthrax, now I like Radiohead," but I also mean that how we react to and interact with music changes. The criteria by which we deem something "bad" or "good" evolves as well. One inevitable result of listening to music all the time is an increased knowledge of at least the basics of theory and how music works in general, which leads to an appreciation of more technically sophisticated musics. But mood plays a part as well. Think of the way a specific song, album, etc.. can attach itself to a specific life event, be it "good" or "bad." And that opinion can change as one's feelings towards said life event change. Sometimes too it's just a general feeling. As I mentioned here, I've been feelin' the rock on vinyl vibe which means I'm more receptive to the Clash and Olivia Newton-John than I am to the William Parker disc I'm listening to right now. Another factor is surroundings, what you're being exposed to, voluntary or otherwise. Also, the process of discovery adds to a personal database of information, including who got what ideas from whom. "I used to think So & So was great till I heard Such & Such." And sometimes you just wonder "What the fuck was I thinking?"

Tastes remain the same. Some opinions really are forever. There are songs, albums, artists, etc.. that I will just plain dis/like for the rest of my life. Some of them because of their association with less than pleasant life events. For example. And all of the above factors (knowledge, surroundings, life events, etc..) can also influence the permanence of an opinion. Knowledge can reenforce an initial feeling. "See, I was right. This is good/bad." Same goes for being surrounded by people who share similar tastes. "We both, all, etc.. dis/like this. See, we're right."

Personally, my opinion seems to change from "bad" to "good" more than the other way around, and once something is considered "good" it tends to remain that way. Which could mean that I have no taste and think everything is ok, or that I seek the good in what I'm listening to.

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