Sunday, November 21, 2010

Overdoing Music

In this post about John Cage, Kyle Gann says:

If I no longer listen to the 1950 String Quartet, it's because I listened to it so frequently in my younger years that I kind of overdid it - most Mahler falls in the same category.

It's obvious, once you think about it, that your experience of a particular piece of music can change over time as you listen to it more or less often than other pieces. I'm always bugged by critics talking about a piece of music as if their personal experience with the piece were the only possible history one might have with it. Some time back, Pliable, over at On An Overgrown Path, used Buddhist mind tools to talk about how our experience of music is not a static thing, but constantly evolving and changing.

For sure, one thing involved in all this is what the neuroscientists are telling us about our being attracted to a mix of the expected and the unexpected. The more you listen to a piece, the more difficult it is for it to surprise you. 

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