Drawing done by a 3 year old girl (from Wikipedia).

Drawing done by a 3 year old girl (from Wikipedia).

How often did you have to convince people around you of your musical choices? Probably all the more because you are an experimental music fan? … Well, I usually follow a pacifist life philosophy and would tell you not to try to convert someone who is on a mission on this earth 🙂 But you should probably still have a few secret weapons handy in case there is no escape. LOL 😉

Here is a quick guide on how to handle some of the most common argumentations:

1) “Contemporary music is too confusing for our brain, because our brain searches for predictable patterns.” Yeah, that the brain searches for patterns to anticipate the future is scientifically true. But it is also true that people who are willing to work hard for the reward release more dopamine 🙂 Which means that it is OK to challenge the brain while listening to music, and the pleasure of achievement might be even bigger. Come on guys, the brain is made for these sorts of challenges!

2)“I listen to music to relax.” There is nothing wrong with that, right? But the problem begins when the entire being of music is reduced to that … Think about how Beethoven or Handel would have felt if they knew that the works for which they sweated blood are being played in shopping mall food courts for a more relaxed eating experience or in railway stations to calm passengers 🙂 Psst, btw; there is plenty of well-made “relaxing music” by living composers (check out for example the new crossover label of the Deutsche Grammophone, also some early minimalism might be just right for you).

3)“These modern sounds are simply not enjoyable. This strange urge to create something ‘original’ is killing the music and the connection between music and the audience.” There is no way that this clash between the audience and music will be solved anytime soon. Both sides did in the past, and will make compromises in the future. Since over 600 years of music criticism, promoters, audiences and critics complained about how the music was “difficult to listen to” and how dissonances, innovation and technology were “killing the music”*. Obviously, we managed to morph altogether successfully, huh?

4) “Even infants and small children prefer tonality and consonances to dissonances.” Wrong! Because, firstly; studies cannot 100% eliminate the beginning fact that the parents were possibly already singing or playing -tonal- music to the child. And secondly; children seem to be extremely open-minded when it comes to accepting strange sounds or forms.
Wait! This brings a question into my mind, which would also explain why much less people have problems with abstract painting than with abstract music 🙂 : Why do we never try to correct a picture done by our little children which shows a sun with a face, a blue forest with strange little creatures that have feet in the place where they should actually have their ears? But, when that same child wants to learn an instrument, the very first thing they will do is to play some song in C-Major? …

Since we talked so much about science, maybe you would find it interesting to hear that the processing of classical music in the brain has many similarities to processing language … So it wouldn’t lie far if we said to those who challenge our love for unusual sounds:

“Psst, do not disturb! I am learning a new language 😉 “


*Check out the diagram published by the New Yorker on “What is Killing the Music”.