Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Music Generalist

I started musing about this courtesy of Jerrick, when he insisted that because I listen to opera and metal, sometimes concurrently, I am a music generalist.

I've always prided myself on not being like "the other shallower folks", whoever they may be, who make their musical choices based on what's in. As a result their library is a bloody mess of singles.

"Oh is this good? Do you like it? Well I'll buy it then. Is that good? Me? Why should I buy it when you don't like it? How silly my dear."


But after what Jerrick said I can't help but ponder if it was true. If you listen to more than one genre of music, you're a generalist? If so 95% of the world's population are music generalists. And 3.5 of the remaining 5% are tribal folks who've never heard any other notion of music than their own hooting and beating.

Going along with that then, let's make a distinction. Fine, we're mostly generalists. But there are two types - popularists and picturists.

Popularists, or what I'd like to more derogatorily call poppies, listen to music just to own an iPod. A pink one. And if they don't like the Shuffle, they will buy the model of their choice then varnish it pink.

Alright, no they don't do that, not all of them anyway. But poppies treat music like scented tissue paper. Because it's nice. Whatever their friends have, they also must have. Because otherwise they'd run out of topics to talk about. As mentioned earlier they hardly bother listening to the whole album, and only go for the songs that are MTV hits, that everyone is talking about. As a result they miss out on hidden gems in albums simply because it was never made into a soft porn music video.

Picturists, as you might have guessed by now (unless you're a poppy), also listen to music as entertainment, but they also treat music as a revered art. Picturists explore albums, discographies, other projects that members of their favourite bands engage in. In the music they listen to they look out for motifs or leitmotifs, and having identified them relish every single instant it is unleashed on their hungry appreciative ears. Their ears perk up at the sound of an unusual fill, or rhythm, or solo, either something simply unique or technical. Picturists live for the details. They live for the canvas painting. They live for the brilliant red tree amidst a lush emerald forest. Picturists listen to music because they love it, not because their friends do. And quite obviously, as author of this article and despiser of poppies, I count myself as a picturist.

What are you? Wait! Don't answer that. You'll probably disgust me. Pestilent poppies.

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