Music is such a simple pleasure isn’t it? We just select something on our electronic music box, or tune in to our favorite music station… listen… relax.
But what makes us choose our audio delight at any given moment? Our mood can certainly dictate a preference at any given time. Are you in a happy mood or a thought provoking mood? Do you want to dream of things that might be, or dwell on the past? Perhaps you want to be totally absorbed by overpowering sounds, or perhaps you want to escape to serenity for a while? Perhaps you just want a background?
What makes us choose an instrumental rather then a song. An instrumental can certainly answer the needs in the prior paragraph… but lyrics? Perhaps you are in a social conscience state of mind and need to hear it vocalized, or perhaps you are in between relationships and are feeling nostalgic? You may not really need the lyrics, but a particular band gives you an uplift by virtue of the musical arrangements “behind ” the song. Perhaps you simply want a happy song, or a spiritual song but then, perhaps you are not going to listen to the lyrics at all but do want the comfort of vocal tones?
Some of us may be selecting music based on the instruments involved! Would you prefer to listen to Angela Hewitt on Harpsichord… or David Gilmour on electric guitar? Perhaps piano, or classical guitar is more to your current taste… or clarinet… or electronic keyboards? Of course you will have to decide how prominent you wish your instrument of choice to be, so do you select a solo artist, or a presentation where that artist is accompanied by various other instruments?
As for the vocal presentation, is this the time for a loud demonstrative voice, or one with softer tones? Male or female voice? Multiple voices? Perhaps a close harmony duet is perfect right now, or perhaps a large choral presentation would be better? Does it matter with where you are in your musical needs of the moment?
So if I wanted to lose myself in music at this moment, what are my immediate and impulsive ten choices? In no particular order:
1. “Cumberland Gap” Lonnie Donegan. (Takes me back a long way. I would have been 10 years old, and I loved the rhythm of skiffle)
2. “Brahm’s Violin Concerto” – last Movement (my introduction to both classical music and the violin)
3. “Stranger on the Shore” Acker Bilk (nostalgia again, and beautiful clarinet playing)
4. “Bright Eyes” Art Garfunkel (get the kleenex)
5. “A Piece of Sky” Barbara Streisand (incredibly uplifting)
6. “The Pilgrim’s Chorus” Mormon Tabernacle Choir (be prepared to collapse in a heap when the last note fades out)
7. “Comfortably Numb” Pink Floyd (classic Gilmour guitar solo)
8. “Fotheringay” Sandy Denny (sad lyrics with historical basis)
9. “Telegraph Road” Dire Straits (classic Knopfler guitar solos)
10. “Enigma Variations (#10) Elgar (totally overwhelming as the sound slowly picks you up and carries you to great heights, and eventually gently returns you to the ground.
To put those choices into perspective, my music is all stored in iTunes and currently totals 5433 tracks. I rate all my music and if I limit my choice to 4 and 5 star ratings, then I choose from 2466 tracks. Just five star tracks brings my selection choice down to 577 tracks.
Music – a simple pleasure? We can treat it simplistically because, after all, we don’t have to analyze it to death but… a simple pleasure? Perhaps it’s really not that simple!