Music for the masses

Thoughts about harmonizing to hymns have led me to look at iPods with sadness. Yes, proponents will argue that they have democritized music. Now everyone can have access to a vast musical library, and obscure bands who recorded in their basements can collect fans from around the world.

But isn't something lost when music is something we experience passively as individuals? Sure, listening to performances has always been one way music is experienced. However, there's a dynamic to listening to live musicians play in the company of many listeners which differs greatly from having perfectly tuned, flawlessly played, interference-free music piped directly into one's ears.

What is music? What is its purpose? Isn't a vital component of music its production with, by, and for people? A solo voice or instrument can be hauntingly beautiful, but does it not take a group of musicians, vocalists, and/or listeners to evoke joyful abandon?

This is not to argue against practice and excellence in performance, nor is it a Luddite rant against iPods and such technology. Instead, it's a plea to remember, next time you tuck in your earbuds and prepare to get in the zone, that appreciation is participation.


"appreciation is participation". I like it. You make a good point. I hadn't thought of that before.

Anonymous said…
ah yes there is something still spine tingling when without electified music the voices from the masses come together in exquisite harmony, each person contibuting, feeling energized by personally being part of the collective experience - not merely being a passive individual being musically stimulated in isolation

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