Picture if you will; you’re walking along, minding your own business and listening to your favorite new song when suddenly THAT guy walks up. We’ve all experienced THAT guy; The guy who catches ear of that post-2010 pop song and proceeds to tear into it with ruthless criticism of its simple chord structure and predictable melodies, leaving you feeling both frustrated and insulted at the same time.
But I am here to say, on behalf of all those guys, do not be angry with them... Pity them.
Yes, pity, for these poor souls cannot enjoy music like the average person gets to. Through years of schooling, analyzing, performing and composing, these select few can no longer simply listen to music. They critique it, ruthlessly, often subconsciously, to the point where music rarely brings them pure joy like it does for others.
I know, because I AM that guy. Please allow me to shed some light on this slow dissent out of musical bliss.
It all began my freshman year of high school when I picked up my first guitar and began practicing. As my skill slowly improved, I noticed myself paying more and more attention to the guitar in my favorite classic rock songs. The more my skill progressed the more my ear developed. This continued throughout my freshman year, and when I picked up the bass my sophomore year my ear only developed further.
At this point, my ear is still rather innocent, the extent of my critique being “wow that’s a cool guitar riff in that song”. Things didn’t take a turn for the worst until my junior year when I discovered my schools choir program and fell completely in love.
I accumulated nine semesters of three different choirs in two years, which is a long winded way of saying I sang a LOT in high school. We sang at multiple events in the community every year. We won competitions. We were good, and my ear grew an ego because of it.
It was at this time that I found modern music un-enjoyable. I could hear Adele’s vocal surgeries; I could hear the nasal annoyance that is Iggy Azalea, and the “Hits1” station on SiriusXM Radio became quarantined. It was a sad affair, for I had previously enjoyed those songs, but found them unbearable now. My phone became predominantly choral anthems and song cycles.
But even my love of choral music became tainted with time. Soon, I was able to distinguish certain tones and jaw positions I favored, harmonies I preferred, and styles I would rather veer away from. My musical bliss was slowly slipping away, and a real feeling of claustrophobia set in.
Soon, college was upon me and my crisis was only getting worse as I had chosen to pursue a music education degree, and with level college music classes came a college level of analysis. It became my grade to be analytical. My ear was forced to become more and more acute to the “correct” way that music was supposed to be. Even instrumental music, which was once my safe haven of pure joy, became tainted as I took method classes to hone my ear even further. My phone was rid of any music not of classical nature…
So you see… we never wanted to be this way. Us music educated folk LOVE music; that’s why we do what we do. But our analytical ear infection is inevitable. The truth of the matter is that we secretly long for the days where we could listen to any type of music without our minds dissecting every aspect of it. But those days are gone. We’re bitter. So the next time one of us rips your music a new one... don’t take it personally.