I used to dislike western classical music (aside from two exceptions). Those two exceptions and a Broke violin changed my mine. Before that, “Classical music” to me meant, Indian ragas, Amaradeva, and Sinhabahu type stuff which I enjoy very much. These along with, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, electronica, old Kandian songs and other varieties of music effortlessly paint pictures in my head. Western classical music just didn’t.
In western classical music what I heard was sleepy dehydrated wailing violins sloshed together into an orchestral bore. Obviously such comments paint me correctly as an ignorant philistine. The type that grunts happily at sugary troughs like YMF (yumm). However my aversion to western classical music has changed without the abandonment of old favourites.
The two western classical pieces that changed my change of perception are
- the sound track of the helicopter attack scene in Apocalypse Now.
- “Carmeena Booreena” — the only piece I knew by name and initially thought had something to do with a European car.
However the catalyst for the change was a CD of solos played on a 1700s violin. The instrument had a powerful profound meaningful sound. It rose through my ancient speakers and chilled the back of my neck. The tone was serious. Yet it simultaneously gave the feeling of soaring among mountains peaks sharply lit by orange sunlight. Just like some non vegetarian bird of prey in a national geographic documentary.
After that I wasn’t in a hurry to change the channel when encountering something classical (specially if there wasn’t anything interesting on). While living in exile a bunch of us got a deal on season tickets to the symphony on Friday nights. Some of us were too tired after the week’s toil and passed out halfway through something called the second motion (or was it movement)? I readily admit to nodding off myself but I always woke up to a swell of uplifting sound.
I came away from the experience with 3 realisations that felt profound to my bovine mind.
- No speaker or recording can reproduce the power of live performance.
- Western classical music is clearly worth the listen without shedding of your pre-existing musical tastes.
- As with any genre of music, it is best enjoyed when you actively listen to it. Not just hearing it as background audio as people to in hotel lobbies when they want to feel sophisticated.
My recent listens are of pieces written by dead central Europeans who wore powdered wigs. Essentially the classical phase of classical western music and a bit afterwards. Almost entirely Modsart (Modie), Beythoven, and Bark. Very unsophisticatedly mainstream no?
I certainly can’t identify pieces or the composers without looking at the CD case. I’m clueless about the terminology and won’t be able to differentiate between a capachino and a sontata. I’m also ignorant about the distinctions between Overchers, majors, and minors (irrespective of the letters that are flattened or sharpened). I don’t understand the significance of music played in a chamber. Lastly I’ve yet to hear a single splash in Modie’s water music.
I have no problem with my ignorance of such things. I’m sure I’ll pick up the lingo without wikipeida as I listen along over the years. These days it is fashionable to flaunt one’s ignorance of such things. Particularly in the puddle of the Sri Lankan blogosphere. To state the obvious, all mispellings and mangling of names and references are intentional. I never was am or will be anything close to being fashionable.