28 December 2012

On Having To Really Want It

For the longest time, I didn't read anything I wasn't assigned to read and often skirted the requirements on top of it. It's becoming one of my bigger regrets as I slowly find myself drawn into it after all. I'm not sure what to conclude from the fact that the things I once rejected (textbooks and novels) I still reject, and if anything more strongly, much like I still reject classical opera, which was more or less synonymous with "classical music" in my mother's household during the years I expressed the least interest in it.

Sitting on my "current" shelf at the moment is a smugly eclectic group of tomes: Arthur Danto's "The Transfiguration of the Commonplace" for the philosopher in me, Harry Partch's "Genesis of a Music" for the theorist (a prof advised starting with the final section, on tuning systems; a very good idea, I think), Paul Berliner's towering "Thinking in Jazz," which I've just, somehow, finished, Edward Cone's annotated edition of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, and Nicholas Cook's "Music, Imagination, and Culture." It's the last of these that I'm undertaking most out of obligation, and not to the blog, though I'll never forget thinking upon getting my first peeks at the classical music blogosphere that there must have been some secret pact among the highest profile bloggers to refer to this book, "Musicking," and "This Is Your Brain On Music" as frequently and gratuitously as possible (along with including a link to Alex Ross' blog at the very top of their blogroll; as if no one could have found it otherwise). The present endeavor will thus take me two-thirds of the way toward earning my stripes, though I have to add here, just in case you hadn't heard, that "This Is Your Brain On Music" is an utterly worthless piece of soccer mom pabulum.

The Symphonie Fantastique score is the outlier in this group because it's a score, but of course, that's not why I checked it out; rather, it's the accompanying essays and commentary which interest me for reasons which will become clear soon enough. It gives me pause, though, that even as I've found edification in curling up with a nice treatise from time to time, my relationship with scores remains as strained as my relationship with reading once was. I've surely created dozens if not hundreds of times more score than I've studied, which is something that was never true of my reading and writing. Just recently, I've been struck by the feeling that perhaps that particular change of course just needs time and patience to be allowed to take root, just as I, apparently, needed to reach my mid-twenties and a safe distance from Mr. Shakespeare in order to find pleasure in educating myself about the context for my musical work. Unfortunately, I fear more seeds of regret are planted as time passes.

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