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Music on Trial: A grand paradox of old and new music brings balance

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Iam lucky to have a handful of friends I can go to for new music suggestions and on whom I can count to make me feel too mainstream and under-informed when it comes to what “good” music is.

I am lucky to have friends who are orchestra nerds, who seem to know every movement of every symphony, string quartet and concerto ever written. I am lucky to have friends who make fun of me for how little I know about jazz, but will patiently help me learn. I am somewhere between these passionate sides, and my music taste has developed to be a little bit of each of my friends’ and peers’ tastes combined with mine to be a set of CDs and playlists I am incredibly enthusiastic about.

In middle school a.k.a. the glory days of rampant insecurity, I was intimidated during the school week that I did not know the pop music my peers did, and then I was intimidated on Saturdays when I did not know as much classical music as my youth orchestra peers did. I was caught in the middle and, honestly, just trying to figure out what music to put on my hot pink iPod Nano.

Once I got over the fact that I thought I “should” have a certain taste in music, the adventure of finding and listening to music became way less overwhelming and way more fun. To me, listening to all of the classical music I “should” know is incredibly daunting. When I have to choose which violin concerto to play next, I cannot spend more than two hours deciding because, woah, violin concertos can get pretty annoying after a while. This is the same with any music; Deadmau5’s “Ghosts and Stuff” will always hold a special place in my heart #highschool but I’m not the kind of person who can listen to only Deadmau5 endlessly.

I actually love the balance of classical and current music for the same reason I love working on science homework in the music library and music homework in Regents; I don’t want to fully commit to just one side and style, because I don’t want to have only one side to my interests and knowledge.

I care a lot less now about fitting into someone else’s taste in music; I might seem unenthusiastic and noncommittal to a type of music or style, but that doesn’t mean I have bad taste in music I might have bad taste by your standards. It just means I’m enthusiastic about my own weird mix.

So here is a list of my favorites that have very litte in common except for the fact that I like them.

  • Modest Mussorgsky: “A Night on Bald Mountain” [1867]
  • Bae Tigre: “Now or Never” [2014]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 [1824] Anyone who tells you should listen to the whole thing in one sitting while doing nothing else is right. I never believed people when they told me until I actually did it once and never turned back.
  • Aaron Copland: “Fanfare for the Common Man” [1942] Trying to pretend your life is a movie and looking for that epic soundtrack? Look no further.
  • Walter Mitty and His Makeshift Orchestra: “Punk With An ‘X'” [2009]
  • Walk the Moon: “Shut Up and Dance” [2014] Because I have no shame in liking mainstream popular music, and this is a catchy song perfect for a road trip playlist.
  • Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 2 [written between 1888-1894]
  • Culture Cry Wolf: “Come Come” [2010]
  • Foxy Shazam: “Oh Lord” [2010]

With that, I encourage you to listen to whatever music you like – because whether you think you have good or bad taste in music is irrelevant, as long as you like what you listen to and it’s not Nickelback. If you haven’t yet had a dance party with your roommate to Atmosphere’s Sunshine [2007] celebrating this beautiful spring weather yet, you’re doing spring wrong.

belislec@stolaf.edu