Music you personally dislike, but still respect

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    Because of the personal nature of the arts, it is easy to confuse an estimation of quality of a work with a personal affinity for it. One of the challenges that a lifetime of musical training has provided me is being confronted with a vast array of musical styles and learning to appreciate these whether or not I personally enjoy them. Music is a representation of the human experience, extending far beyond our own. What types of music simply do not speak to you, and yet you understand and respect why other people find meaning and enjoyment in them? It can be a fun mind game to go outside our personal preferences in this way. It’s key to thinking outside the little box of our minds and assumptions.

    For me Strauss waltzes, various marches, and certain strongly tonal orchestral music wears on my ears. Also solo piano and harp music that drills in dominant seventh chords and triads in relentless virtuosic passages. Possibly in part because I earned by bread and butter in grad school listening to ear training students sing their I IV V7 I passages tens of thousands of times. If I can predict the sound and it is given to me at forte, my ears crumple like a blade of grass in the relentless rays of the August noon sun. (/melodrama off)


    Also, I have a mixed response to Asian classical music. There is some I take to immediately and some that really challenges my ears. With that I have been making a conscious effort to comprehend some of the more challenging examples like certain examples of Korean music. Japanese shakuhachi and koto music I take to instantly. Asian classical can serve as a primary example of what I am talking about here because it is quite challenging to many Western ears, and yet it is rather difficult to dispute the sophistication and meaning in this music.

    I will also add that I have sometimes played a game with myself pretending I have never heard a dominant seventh chord resolving to a triad and listen to the music described in the opening post with “fresh ears”. I notice the absolute joy of the performers on PBS playing the Strauss waltzes with the helium balloons ascending at the end of the program and it makes me feel really good just seeing the joy it brings. I also pay attention to the phrasing and can appreciate the skill and nuance that some performers execute.


    One more for now: I also always struggled with Karlheinz Stockhausen, although his lectures on music inspired me and challenged my thinking like few have. He conceived the continuity from tone to form. The natural waves pulses in a tone when slowed down become rhythm, which when expanded is form. I doubt I could have ever conceived of that on my own. He also noted that tonal music with regular periodicity (regular, periodic phrase lengths) like a Beethoven or Mozart symphony when sped up to a single second, produce a vowel sound. Whereas a piece that is dissonant with irregular phrasing produces a consonant when sped up. Understanding such fundamental relationships in the physics of sound opens up so many doors to comprehesion.

    I know Stockhausen is brilliantly intelligent. I also know his music is aesthetically challenging to a point that bewilders me. There are examples I “dislike”. It is abrasive, irregular, erratic. Which do you think is more likely that I am so intelligent as to be able to see through him as an expressive idiot? Or is his work something I am not fully comprehending? Is it my lack or his? As far as society goes, he has achieved a much higher level of respect professionally than I ever will. Is that relevant? Is this all completely subjective? Or is there a way to investigate and form some type of estimation on his work that falls outside my opinion of it?


    Interesting topic. I tend to gravitate more toward “progressive” styles, be they rock, jazz, contemporary… I like unpredictable music that catches me off guard. I tend to dislike traditional “chamber” music for this reason, and most pieces by Mozart. Granted the guy was talented, but I find his stuff rather boring. What really excites me musically are composers like Alan Sylvestri (soundtrack from the movie The Abyss) and rock/metal bands like Rush and Dream Theater. I do like Celtic music on occasion but can only take it in small doses. If I can predict the rest of the song after hearing the first 3 chords, I tune it out.

    Fairy Reel

    I have to say I tend to find most ‘Classical’ music boring unless I’m playing it; for instance, I tend to flip past it on the radio. I do however really enjoy classical music when I really sit down and listen to it, like at a symphony, recital, ballet, etc.

    For the most part, though, I like


    This topic is a little hard for us Kodaly fans to appreciate, especially when sweeping generalitites are being made. It might spice things up a bit, and still be within my comfort level, if we were to be specific as to pieces- saying “I really can’t stand any of the music of the western hemisphere”.

    I had a ghastly “Form and Analysis” class in college, and the teacher, who was the reason the class was so bad, made us listen to the same Mozart symphony (I happily have forgotten which one), six times/week for a whole semester. While I have matured to the point at which I heartily respect the work, I intensely disliked it for years and years.


    I find many of Bartok’s works to be harsh and grating, but I grudgingly respect them as I deeply love his other works, the same for Janacek. I do not respect the minimalist composers. I grudgingly respect Robert Moran, the most musical of them, for his music has quality and he writes for the harp.

    I do respect Paul Turok, whose harp concerto left me wanting to hear it again, a very rare occurence with contemporary music. I think more people should play it, definitely.

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