Of  late I’ve been listening to a lot of music, different variations and genres. All over the map really in terms of syle. But I thought it might be a good time to reflect on the subjective experience of music. I’m sure that if I had a very long discussion with someone who is an expert on the subject they would discover the underlying qualities about certain types of music that make me consider them pleasurable, but as I am not well-versed in music theory I couldn’t really tell you why I like one song and not another. It is possible for me to learn to like a song or musician, but primarily (as I think with most people) When I like a song it just occurs on a gut level and there’s no real way  can explain why I like it. The test of a truly great song I have to get lost in it. Where you have that perfect melody and rhythm.

Lose yourself is such a perfect term for that. When I hear a song I really like I just close my eyes and open my ears. In a sense one prepares oneself for the experience.  When its good, its as if there is nothing else in the whole world. There is only the song. For me though saying  “there is only the song” doesn’t even feel quite accurate, because that implies you are paying attention to the song, analyzing it, thinking about it in some way. But this is not truly accurate. Certainly I am focused in some sort of way, but its a focus that is entirely without content. When I have opened my ears to the perfect song its as if my mid were entirely absent, I’m not thinking at all. The power of the song leads to a complete nihilism of mind. I’m not thinking, I’m awash in the music. The music is the entirety of my being. I have been as much annoyed as others by deafeningly loud speakers, but the impulse to blast the music up clearly comes from the desire to increase this effect. To make the music even more powerful, its intensity the absoluteness of the environment.  People in these situations say “The music is so loud I can’t even hear myself think.” But thats EXACTLY the point. You aren’t supposed to be thinking if you want to truly enjoy music. If you’re enjoying the music you aren’t thinking at all. This is not to say that concers should always be played at eardrum shattering decibels but there is certainly a reason to do so.

I have never actually tried drugs, recreationally that it, the most I attest to is two-three drinks in a sitting. So I cannot say I have ever gotten to the point of being “hammered” and honestly I really don’t have any desire to. As for other drugs, those I haven’t tried in even small quatities. But I’ve always imagined that if I had the experience would be somewhat like that which I have described above, perhaps especially with something like heroin or cocaine. I mean that in the sense of having that complete sense nothingness and lostness. Being completely bound to the moment. I’m sure that these drugs would of course also significantly more intense and markedly different in how they effected my perceptions, but  something like that would be present. Music after all creates a sense of escape and pleasure, mixed with emotion that goes with the style of the piece. If people use drug as a kind of escape (as is frequently said on EVERY show I have ever seen on drugs and addiction) then I suppose I’d have to say that music is my drug because a truly amazing song or rock concert does the same thing while you are in it. I should also say that I have never been the kind of person to “bored” with a song easily. I’ve heard others say that they like to change up a song because it gets boring after they listen to it too many time. I personally can listen to a song over and over again if I really like it, even back to back. I won’t say I absolutely never get bored with a song or that if I have listened to it very frequently it doesn’t lose some of its powers, but for the most part I change songs because socially I know its considered weird and obsessive to listen to the same song over and over again. I can easily listen to the same song ten times in a row without getting bored of it. Maybe this makes me a bit of an addict.

I certainly love music and that complete feeling of nihilism that comes with a truly powerful song. I can usually find several songs and artists of various genres that I like, and I have a fairly eclectic taste in music. I might be slightly partial to rock/alternative/classic rock, but thats mostly because that is the genre that I know the most arists from and as such have a wide selection of songs I like. Of course for every genre (though any “good” song can have this lostness effect) the experience of this feeling differ based on the tenor and style that come with the genre. The emotion of the piece flavors the way in which you enjoy it.  For the stereotypical rock piece there is a sort of powerful, rhythm driven fury that leads one to “bang” one’s head and jump up and down (as is found in a lot of rap music too I think). For a blues or jazz piece it tends to be more smooth and melancholy perhaps giving one the physical reaction of a slight sway. African and latin pieces have a strong pecussive element and are celebratory in mood. All this is of course a highly crude stereotype of all these genres as there are variations in all of them and of course major and minor chords are found in all of them. This, as any rudimentary music student will tell you, is what generally determines the mood of a piece. I will say that don’t really like country music. Its the one genre thats the exception. But I’m not saying it wouldn’t be possible for me to learn to like it. I like many folk songs after all and there have been one or two country songs I have like. Of course this is a subjective taste issue. My point is merely that there are distinct moods that different styles of music (which is of coure a truism, that what makes the different styles in the first place) I guess I’m just saying this as a point of analogy between music and different drugs. Just as different drugs effect people differently, so do different genres of music. And as people use certain drugs to induce a specific kind of experience, so too do people do that with songs. We can self medicate as much with music as with alcohol or pain killers. In conclusion, I guess all I have to say is that music is my drug of choice, and I’m totally ok with that.

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