We’ve been having a lot of rain in Kansas City, lately. I like the rain. Sometimes, the pitter-patter of the drops on the roof or the windshield of a car reminds me of the sound of a snare drum. There’s no groove but all the individual hits blend into this soft blanket of sound. Depending on how loud or what surface the rain is hitting it can feel very noisy and aggressive. But, eventually, I find it comforting.
This reminds me of a story about John Cage, the famous avant-garde composer. Some of Cage’s pieces can be very abrasive and loud by regular standards. They can also feel quite random or go on for a very long time. A music history teacher I had in college told me of an account of a live performance of one of Cage’s longer pieces. The story goes that within the first five minutes most of the audience got up and left. But after that initial five minutes, everyone else remained, enraptured, for the entire length of the piece. The point is if you can stick it out long enough, what might initially sound like a bunch of noise could transform into something more musical. Of course, it wasn’t the music that changed. It was the perspective of the listeners. Sometimes, it takes our ears a little time to get acclimated to certain sounds or patterns, like jumping into a swimming pool that feels cold at first. Pretty soon we adjust to the temperature. Before we know it our perspective is completely flipped and everything outside of the pool feels cold.
I try to remember this story about Cage when I’m confronted with a piece of music or even a piece of information that I find challenging. There’s a famous Zen Buddhist saying: “If you don’t like something just wait for two minutes… and if you still don’t like it after that, then wait for four minutes… and if you don’t like it after that, then wait for eight minutes… etc.” It doesn’t always work right away but if I can put myself in the right headspace, baring anything causing me physical pain, I can often grow tolerant if not appreciate a great deal of stuff I initially find troublesome.
I hope this playlist serves you in your quest for more music in your life. – Thanks for listening, MMM
This month’s playlist includes songs by The Rolling Stones, Klaus Nomi, PJ Harvey, Muzz, H.E.R., D.J. Scratch, Bill Callahan, River Whyless, Vishawa Mohan Bhatt, Christian Lee Hutson, Open Mike Eagle, Metz, Courtney Marie Andrews, Brian Eno, David Byrne, Young Jesus, Lily Hayes
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