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7 November, 2008

You're just supposed to sit and listen

In today's Guardian, Alexis Petridis writes about an intensive 'crash course' he took into the appreciation of jazz.  I don't often agree with Petridis, (his name on an article is usually reason enough for me to skip it), but the subject interests me, particularly the need to acquire an appreciation of jazz, or indeed any other variety of truly progressive music.

One quote that particularly grabbed me was from saxophonist Nathaniel Facey:

"These days, music is like fast food, but sound. It's over and it's on to the next thing, they take your money and they're on to something else. The danger is, it takes away from your actual listening skills. You just hear, you don't listen. Hearing a noise, it becomes a peripheral thing."
Exactly; a better expression of my own, rather loaded, statement that I don't want 'just a bit of fun', mere transitory entertainment. I want to be moved which, though primarily emotional, requires a certain intellectual engagement.
That's also an internalised process, not really compatible with the showmanship and shared experience of a pop/rock concert. When I attend a Porcupine Tree show it's just me, standing motionless for two hours, and the live music – the surrounding audience and the backing videos are less than irrelevant to me, being mere annoyances. I don't want to be part of a communal 'party' – the fireworks are going off inside my own head.

I know nothing about jazz, but maybe I ought to give it a try.

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