Aversion to Classical Music

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
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ems
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Aversion to Classical Music

Postby ems » Tue Apr 04, 2006 7:32 pm

It's a terrible thing to have to confess but I have a very low threshold for classical music which I think is a result of my St J/SES upbringing. Does anyone else get this?
I can hear that it's beautiful music and, believe me, music has a profound effect on me, but I don't own a single classical CD (well, apart from a children's Bach CD complete with soothing water and bird sounds for lulling an infant to sleep - bought from Mothercare. Oh, and a Jacques Loussier plays Bach cd - but that's jazz really).
It's even medically proven now that classical music (I think Mozart in particular) is known to have mind expanding powers on child listeners - improving their powers of concentration etc....... BUT, I just can't listen to it for very long. It has such strong associations for me. Even though I didn't have a particularly harrowing experience at St J (compared to a number of people on this board of course) I still associate classical music with a pretentious need to be seen as upper class/ better than thou/ more refined... it's hard for me to describe... because it's more than just that.
St J didn't allow any children to listen to 'pop' music outside of school and even banned TVs in SES members households. It wasn't until I was about 11 or 12 that I started to listen to the radio or other peoples records that I developed a passion for 'pop' or jazz or anything else, as long as it wasn't classical.
Does anyone else notice this tendency or even an aversion to classical music?
I feel quite sad about it because I know the benefits of listening to classical music and I can appreciate it's beauty if only for a very limited period.
Ems

Alban
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Postby Alban » Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:26 pm

Yep, still can't listen to it...in fact I have a rant about the SES attitude towards music here: http://www.whyaretheydead.net:/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=119

...But I don't feel particularly sad about it as you say ems, mainly because there's always loads of new things to listen to out there. I don't know about Mozart being good for your brain or something, but there's a load of non-classical out there that's good for the emotions, or social comment, or physical exercise, or dancing to, or even making love to...in fact when people were asked for their prefered musical accompaniment to the latter they chose Steve Miller's Abracadabra - not The Sugar Plum Fairy!

I really did try to like it - I was in the St Vedast orchestra and was first violin for their string quartet...even tried a spell in the choir. All to no avail! I guess that having it shoved down my throat at every possible oportunity just made me appreciate the alternatives even more.

Alban

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:34 pm

Yes, I can see that might be difficult. But what a pity - as you clearly recognise. I wonder how best to separate the association? I've found that it's easier to listen to music when in company - such as at a concert or opera. Some enjoyable occasion - going with a friend and having dinner afterwards or going to an open-air concert in the summer with picnic - and then you might well be able to enjoy the occasion as a whole. The music would just be part of it. Easter is coming up with lots of singing and concerts in churches. Museums and art galleries often offer lunchtime or early evening concerts where you wouldn't have to stay too long. Good luck with it!

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ems
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Postby ems » Tue Apr 04, 2006 10:54 pm

Thanks, Alban & Stanton
I'm def somewhere in the middle - I don't hate classical music, I do even enjoy it out for an evening with some dinner afterwards etc. (although I do think I'd always prefer a Rolling Stones (or indeed many other band/artist's) concert instead. But I still wouldn't want to buy the CD afterwards and actually listen to the whole thing and feel elated.
Alban, I agree about the accompaniment to certain activities - sugar plum fairy makes me laugh.
Classical music is easier as 'background' music for me. But so many other types of music can get my full, undivided attention over and over again and have me awash with emotion every time...... all kinds of emotion.
Classical still leaves me feeling impatient...... why?
Ems

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ems
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Postby ems » Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:05 pm

Oh, ps. I was in the St J choir for a while and actually enjoyed it. I had thought that if you were classically trained as a musician or vocalist you'd have a natural appreciation for classical music. I never had lessons with a musical instrument so i thought this was another reason I didn't feel an affinity with classical music. But, Alban, you've kinda proved my theory wrong, as a violinist yourself and member of St V choir.
Ah well.
I'm definitely not indifferent to classical music as, without a doubt, it has associations and I get so itchy with it. Perhaps it is psychosymatic (sp?). Bludgeon a) as the best and the child will always go for b).

Alban
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Postby Alban » Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:08 pm

know what you mean about impatient...it's like a stranger talking to you in a completely different language. Some may get frustrated at themselves for not understanding, others, impatient that the stranger can't converse in familiar tones. I just get bored and walk away.

Alban

chittani
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Postby chittani » Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:15 pm

Ems

I'm liking your Hobbes avie, by the way. So many favourites ... Calvin hammering nails into the coffee table ... Mum: "CALVIN! What are you doing?" Calvin (looking blank): "Is that a trick question?"

I have to report being a sad case in that although I was musically inept as a child I did love trying to play Mozart's Clarinet Concerto ... oh, and the Entertainer as well. But then, I didn't go to St James.

Personally speaking I've never quite got on with any music all that well, but I can't listen to pop for long. All that unexamined emotion, it seems so indulgent ... even the Beatles give me the creeps. I'm probably just uptight.

I thought the best thing on TV this year was the Scorsese Bob Dylan documentary.

leon
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Postby leon » Tue Apr 04, 2006 11:17 pm

Despite being fed loads of crap about Mozart by SES as a kid it's not a problem for me. I remember asking a tutor if Mozart was so devine why did he swear so much in his letters or remark that shitting and listening to Clementi were one and the same to hm? Tutor had no answer, he of course knew nothing just blindly read the "material".
I love Mozart, followed closely by Bach then Charlie Parker. But then I don't own a TV, and find eastern mysticism fascinating, maybe SES got to me! Stanton gets it right, so much of our appreciation and understanding of music is bound with social occasions. As Alban says there is plenty of other music around, but you are missing out if you don't like classical. I was hit quite often for playing Jazz at St James, no doubt it was considered inferior to classical due to it's afro origins. It's interesting how classical visual arts are more popular with the general public than classical music, Hurst v Stockhausen for example

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Wed Apr 05, 2006 12:39 am

One thing I do think is worth mentioning is that - at least in my experience - one hears classical music in a different centre from experiencing pop or rock. Not quite sure how to explain this - but it seems to be the case. Hence, perhaps, the impatience - it doesn't work if you turn on the internal dial marked pop/rock when really you should be tuned into classical. And as to foreign languages - yes, it helps to know the 'language' but ultimately it's a matter of listening. Even a foreign language has meaning and beauty given enough space.

Matthew
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Re: Aversion to Classical Music

Postby Matthew » Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:58 am

ems wrote:It's a terrible thing to have to confess but I have a very low threshold for classical music which I think is a result of my St J/SES upbringing. Does anyone else get this?

Yes, very much so!!

I had to rediscover it for myself about 20 years after being force-fed it throughout my childhood. I now love a great deal of it. Before that it was impossible to not associate classical music with stuffy people in suits and long dresses sitting bolt upright (unless of course they were nodding as a result of SES induced sleep deprivation) and wearing piously superior expressions on their faces.

Just goes to prove that forcing something down someones throat invariably makes them turn and run in the exact opposite direction and as fast as possible. Interestingly enough I'm told that I used to run around my back garden at the age of 3 blissfully singing complex Mozart melodies, note perfect and at the top of my voice. But that was before they started on me.

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Free Thinker
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Re: Aversion to Classical Music

Postby Free Thinker » Wed Apr 05, 2006 3:14 am

ems wrote: It wasn't until I was about 11 or 12 that I started to listen to the radio or other peoples records that I developed a passion for 'pop' or jazz or anything else, as long as it wasn't classical.


This happened to me, too, but luckily I've managed to develop a taste for a zillion genres of music and still retain my enjoyment of classical. Especially once I discovered all the different types of classical music out there besides Mozart.

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bonsai
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Postby bonsai » Wed Apr 05, 2006 8:34 am

One must recognise that the scope of classical music taught, performed and promoted by St James (SES) was very limited too and does not reflect the breadth and wealth of music out there.

Classical music does not mean Mozart. St James and the SES seemed to have a block on any music post Mozart and in a single stroke 200 years of music is simply ignored.

Much of this seems to be because of Leon MacLaren's own personal dislikes of Beethoven.

I like music, and there are not many genre's that I don't get on with. During my teens I was very into classical music but much of this was discovering the wealth of music composed in this 200 year gap. Mahler, Stravisnksy, Janacek, Wagner, Prokofiev, Dvorak, and others now have places amongst my favourites.

Since going to Uni I have also caught up on my pop culture too and I know have a very wide range of musical tastes.

Jazz still however alludes me.

I believe music is a very personal thing. Different people find resonances in different genres, periods, composers and artists. I can believe that St James and the SES have destroyed music or aspects of music for many people with their bizarre ideas

Bonsai

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Ben W
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Very long post - sorry!

Postby Ben W » Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:17 pm

Ems,

What a great thread. I couldn?t resist adding something. A bit rambly but who cares?

I think I went the other way. I am one of those who is in love with Mozart ? though this love did seem to peak shortly after the 200th anniversary of his birth in 1997 ? following which I seriously overdosed on his music. Bach too is one of my favourites ? although it took me a very long time to understand that he was actually a great composer rather than a nobody who flukily wrote good music.

Somehow I left SES with one word put downs of most composers that I subsequently learnt to love ? Bach (father of 20 ? ?nuff said), Beethoven (uncouth), Handel (businessman), The romantics (demonic), Debussy (who?).

Mozart on the other hand I learnt was self realised. (Contrast this with the currently in vogue theory that he had Tourette?s syndrome. Weird sanscara or what??) I seem to remember Haydn was also tolerated.

My residual problem is different. I have this groundhog day experience of being in the middle of a drunken quiz night and the music questions coming up. Suddenly I am catapulted from suave sophisticated irritating know-all to a worthless nobody staring shiftily at his shoes whilst those around me break into a series of 70?s and 80?s pop songs that I have no recollection of (except vaguely at some previous quiz night). They stare with wild abandon into each other?s eyes, singing raucously at the tops of their voices whilst simultaneously digging into the depths of their souls to drag out the name of the artist / song / year / whatever, excitedly and furtively writing it down and clapping each other on the back. Meanwhile I?m desperately trying to avoid eye contact and the inevitable ?Don?t you know THAT?! What were you DOING in 1971??? (?Errr? I was involved with this slightly strange organisation which ? errr? discouraged pop music.?) I think of slipping off to the toilet but there is a kind of morbid fascination in it for me ? I might know one of them (yeah right!) so I stick around? And then the next round is geography so I?m on again.

Was anyone else subjected to Leon McLaren?s music? Now THAT was a treat. The SES orchestra ? a hotch potch of musicians of all ages, abilities, and rank ? thrown together and conducted by a pianist. I remember hundreds of concerts (well probably three ? Hey Mr Townend ? that?s called exaggeration ? but it doesn?t mean you have to ignore everything I say OK?) sitting through something akin to a funeral march slowly building to ?that, That, THAT, That was the TRUUUUE Light, that was the TRUUUUUEE Light???. Now THERE?s a song of the 70?s if ever I heard one. Why don?t they play THAT at the quiz nights?? ?What Gospel are those words taken from?? ?Yep ? I know, let me write it down ? St John.? ?What version of the bible are the words from?? ?Duh! King James of course ? every idiot knows that!?

I once made the mistake of mentioning to someone influential that I was interested in being a musician and suddenly found myself in the dining room at Sarum Chase talking one on one with Mr McLaren. I remember being rather tongue tied. One thing he said did stick with me - ?All music comes from words. First the words, then the music.? I remember at the time thinking. ?Errr? I don?t think so.?

The value of classical music was so imbedded within me that I allowed it to ruin my first ever date. There was a girl at my local church who went to our sister school and whose father was headmaster of another local and well respected private school. They lived in an imposing house in a quiet street on ?The Hill?. We had been in the habit of walking down The Hill after Sunday evening church when I took my life into my hands and asked her out. (Those walks down the hill ? I have blanked out the conversations, but the very little I remember is so cringeworthy I can?t bring myself to write it down here.) Anyway ? she said yes! For some reason I allowed my mum to help to pick out my clothes ? which were a regulation SES bottle green corduroy sports jacket and tie ? and I took her on the train to the Festival Hall to see ? wait for it ? Demonic Dvorak?s Violin Concerto in A minor. (What was I thinking??) I even got the score out of the library and followed it during the concert. It was my thirteenth birthday ? the auspiciousness of which (entry into teen years) had given me the courage to ask her in the first place. There was no second date. We met again at some function or other, thankfully not a quiz night, some years down the track and neither of us could keep a straight face as we said hello.

A final story. One Christmas at Stanhill some bright spark had the idea of asking the children to entertain the adults with music. An afternoon was spent asking us what we knew. (I think there was a Leopold Mozart piano piece I knew which made the cut ? he was Mozart?s dad after all.)

So there we were all waiting in the Withdrawing room (door half ajar, waiting our turn) with the entire cogniscenti of the SES collected in the great hall in their evening wear. Fire crackling. Leaders and hangers on seated on the couches, others draped up the stairs, or milling around the gong. Glasses filled with wine and the air filled with high fallutin? merriment and the expectation of being entertained that only Christmas can bring?

One poor girl had foolishly let slip that she could play the first movement of Mozart?s sonata in C. I?m sure you know it:

Daaaaaaaaah dum dum daaaaaaaaa diddle um
Daaaaaaaaah dum dum daaaa drrrrrrrrrrrr um
Dum didle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle
Dum didle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle
Dum didle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle
Dum didle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle iddle
...

As she started I thought ? wow, that?s impressive. Lots of kids can play the first few bars, but there?s a whole piece there. I personally could limp through the first two pages but had no clue about the rest (after all it was over the page). Anyway she did a good job of the first page and (sure enough) limped through the second page and came to the double bar at the end of the ?exposition?. There was a pregnant pause during which I thought ? thank heavens she doesn?t know any more and has stopped? I was however wrong; she was simply turning the page, and before I knew it was ploughing on into the ?development?. It was here, predictably, that the plot began to unravel. It fast became clear that, like me, she had hardly looked at the second half. She stuttered to a halt. Said ?Gosh!? Started again, stuttered, and finally stopped ? no where. There was an even more pregnant pause before someone had the good sense to start clapping.

I can imagine the conversation that led to this. ?Does anyone know any Mozart?? ?Well I know a bit but?? ?Good ? you?ll go first, now who else??

(I was very happy when I heard this girl, who was a lovely open person, later became an opera singer.)

After all this it seemed inevitable that I would study music at university where I learnt about a whole other set of composers ? all conveniently tagged the SES way ? Bartok (folky), Stravinsky (pompous ass), Schumann (twit), Berg (hypochondriac), Delius (unplayable), Satie (banal), Mahler (social climber) and so it goes on.

Ben

PS If anyone wants to try some Mozart I recommend the Divertimento in D - K136, and the Divertimento in D K344. These pieces were written as background music and are great for dipping in and out of.
Child member of SES from around 1967 to around 1977; Strongly involved in Sunday Schools ; Five brothers and sisters went to ST V and St J in the worst years

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ems
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Postby ems » Wed Apr 05, 2006 4:28 pm

Wow! Great post, Ben.
How could I forget the great and ultimate composer, McClaren. 'That was the truuuuuuuuue light'.
How modern.
he he
Ems

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Stanton
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Postby Stanton » Wed Apr 05, 2006 5:41 pm

Keep 'em coming, Ben, keep on painting the pictures.


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