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studio music, cable, and operaphobes

updated mon 24 sep 01


elizabeth priddy on sun 23 sep 01

I tend to listen to the same album all day on repeat.

The one that I have found the most creative is an
album by Micheal hedges called "Aerial Boundaries".
It is beautiful and energetic guitar music. It might
be jazz or it might be fusion. I don't know what you
would classify it as, but is is energetic without
chaos, and some songs are slow tempo and others are
fast. The whole thing is great. He died last year,
but there are two albums out there that I knwo of, one
is Aerial Boundaries, and the other is Taproot. Both
are great.

Whenever I have played this in classes, it has been
extremely well received. I usually leave it in the cd
player and invite the students to bring their own
cd's, which I insist on only allowing to be played
through once per class, as I think people ought to be
able to listen to Anything at least once. After that,
it is on to something else. "Rythm of the Saints" was
also very popular with my students. And frequently,
they would just hit play as they knew what was in

Personally, I like to listen to talk radio when I am
doing production. The less I think about applying
handles, the less i screw it up...I have a large tv
with cable in the studio. The full cable package has
about 25 specific music channels, like the Tehano
music channel, and the soft rock of the 80's channel,
and the county hits channel....very specific musical
genre's that allow me to pick a theme for the day and
yet have a jukebox type of variety within a theme.
With the tv as jukebox, I can also get a basic array
of "talk" stations in the form of the news channels
that basicly just have a talking head. The music
channels I described are better than radio because
they are commercial free and better than MTV with no
videos to distract visually, just a glowing light
randomly moving to prevent screen burn in.

I was in a mural painting competition. The first day
we all listened to an assortment of cd's, heavy on the
Taj Mahal, a blues musician whom everyone seemed to
like, including the lady who had brought her cd
player. Everyone worked enrgetically and some danced a
little as they painted. Then the second day, the
woman with the cd player came in and said that she
needed to listen to Her Music that day. It was hard
core opera. Piercing and distracting for many of the
painters. Too emotioanally overwrought for me.

I immediately just put a chick cd in my player and put
on the headphones. I don't care what people listen
to, but I can't paint to opera. I find it too
interesting. I like to actually listen to it, and as
background music, it won't stay in the background well
enough for me. Also, if I don't know the story or the
language, I get very distracted, wondering what they
are talking about. And that is distracting from the
actual sounds I am listening to. Better to leave
opera for a specific activity, especially better in
person. I feel much the same about symphonic
classical music, good to listen to, bad as background
music ( the rhythms and patterns are too complex to
relegate to secondary sensory information for me ) I
think I am the strange one with respect to this, I
actually appreciate the stuff die to a class on music
theory in college. I think that to the average modern
listener it is elevator music, which is unfortunate
but true in my experience with students.

If she had been playing classical music like one piano
playing specific pieces, she could have listened all
day and no one would have complained, but she had to
get all opera-y about her classical....and so
eventually the moderator of the contest had her turn
it off because some of the artists complained that it
was like a Psyche-Out to have to listen to that. What
does she do? She puts in an "Enya" cd and has about
as much luck with that. "enya" makes me want float
etherially, not paint fire, which was the theme of the

I was still happily listening to headphones and had
moved on the the soundtrack of "Magnolia" and then to
some upbeat U2 and Creedence.

It just goes to show you that no matter what you play,
no matter how universal the music, each person will
have to choose for themself. And when they are not
students subject to the authority of the teacher's
whim, when it is ten adult artists, there is no
pleasing everone, but opera is as unlikely to please
as hard core rap, in my opinion. The opera lover is a
school teacher and I can only hope that she does not
inflict this on her high school students day after

I didn't like the headphones the second day. It
interfered with the comraderie and chatter. But so
did the opera. So much so that the headphones were a
better choice.

The first day, when we listened to Taj, I invited the
artists to come select a cd to listen to from my box,
which is very diverse, from Brubeck to Beck. The
opera lady would have gladly been able to find
classical in there. The other artists picked wildly
different stuff, but I can listen to Anything for
about 45 minutes. She played the opera for three
hours straight before she was asked to turn it off.
That was just plain rude.

Elizabeth Priddy
PO Box 2342
Beaufort, NC 28516

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