by Jody Nagel
The Reasoning (or Lack Thereof) of My Music Students:
"Sometimes I listen to classical music, but sometimes I like pop music."
-- Sometimes I like to fathom the grandeur of a Beethoven symphony, perceive the subtlety of a Schubert song, or experience the sheer sonic exploration of the electronic avant garde. Sometimes I like to hear idiot music.
-- Sometimes I like to luxuriate in a perfumed bubble bath, and sleep between satin sheets. Sometimes I like to bathe in horse manure and cow dung.
-- Sometimes I like to contemplate the enormity of human civilization: its history, its science and art, its society and law. Sometimes I like to hit someone and get away with it, to assault people with my boom-BOOM music weapon and revel in my self-centeredness.
-- Sometimes I, when very ill, like to be treated by serious skilled medical professionals. Sometimes, I choose to be seen by witch doctors, voo-doo doctors and children playing doctor.
-- Sometimes I like to drive my car over sturdy bridges built by superb engineers, though sometimes I like to drive across a shoddy structure put up by amateurs.
-- Sometimes I gaze with aesthetic adoration at a museum collection of diamonds, sapphires, pearls and rubies. But other times it does not matter if the collection contains toy marbles and rocks, lumps of coal and broken cement. After all, pluralism is politically correct. Are we not now supposed to "throw pearls to the swine."
-- Sometimes I allow myself to be amazed by the genius of gifted, world-class musicians, but usually I would rather hear the dreck produced by arrogant, uninformed, untrained and mentally insulting garage bands.
-- Sometimes I like my clarity of mind, sharpness of reasoning, and depth of perception. Sometimes I like to use sonic drugs, and dull my brain with the amplified-metronome assaults the commercial world calls "hit" music.
-- Sometimes I marvel at the enormous range of great musical expression upon the planet: from Gregorian Chant to Indian Ragas, from Balinese Gamelans to Japanese Gagaku, from 16th-century polyphonic masterpieces to the classically refined string quartet, and from monumental dramatic operas to the most delicate solo piano preludes. And sometimes I am staggered by the modern availability of all of these, that libraries and public radio stations freely offer me access to the great musical wealth of the Earth. But most of the time I prefer to allow myself to be brainwashed by the elitist forces of the commercial music industry and listen over an over to the stylistic micro-speck of irrelevance that THEY TELL ME TO. Most of the time I sell my free will to them, and join the masses of lemmings as they throw themselves into the sea of marketing control and consumer manipulation. And please understand, I LIKE IT THIS WAY!
-- Sometimes I am impressed with how smart I really am. But sometimes I like acting dumb, and doing stupid things.
But let's be honest. . .What I like most is acting dumb, and doing stupid things, just like everybody else. Well, luckily, being in college is only a temporary state of affairs. For now, I'll turn up the knob on my stereo, and "veg out" until it's time for music theory class.
. . .Well, maybe I'll just skip class altogether.
Dr. Jody Nagel
May 6-11, 1996