Wow. I found a draft of a post from 2008, and much of it is still relevant, so I’m updating and sharing it.
I’ve been listening to more music lately, which is good. I love music, and honestly, I hear it in my head all the time anyway, but listening to it on the outside gives me more new stuff for my brain to replay later. I’ve had a little MP3 player for several years, but never did much with it because I found the prospect of deciding which songs to choose for the 512MB to be overwhelming. Now I have an iPod that can actually hold *all* of the music on the family media server, with room left over for podcasts! We haven’t totally finished digitizing our music collection yet, but still, that’s a bunch of music.1I’m afraid the collection has long since grown to overwhelm that iPod. Thank goodness for streaming services and our Plex server!
The iPod triggered a major “organize the MP3s” project. They aren’t all tagged properly, which offends my OCD traits. I didn’t have any idea when I started that project just how much time it would take. I’m stepping back now and trying to figure out how to parcel out the work in a saner manner.2Rick will tell you that I still fall into “organizing the MP3s” very easily. They’re never quite perfect!
Anyway, as you might have guessed from my previous post about looking for the music from Defying Gravity.3No, I never did find anything about the music for that show. Apparently, there weren’t enough people watching to care about the music.4Hey, look what I found, lo, these many years later! I pay attention to the music when I’m watching TV shows or movies. I can’t avoid noticing the music. I love the fact that I can watch something on one monitor and use another to hit sites like TV.com to find out the name and artist of a song I’m hearing on Criminal Minds or Numb3rs. That site does frequently have the information, but it’s crowd-sourced, of course, so it isn’t always there. There are other sites, but I can’t remember them at the moment.
Anyway, this article provoked this post: The Song Decoders at Pandora. I found it fascinating. I love listening to my Last.FM mash-up).5I wonder, if I had paid accounts on both services, how they would work together?
Pandora does a great job of suggesting new artists I will like. Early on, I did a lot of “thumbing” to give it a good idea of my tastes, so now it knows me quite well. I’ve never been very susceptible to social influence in my musical tastes. Let’s face it: I’m not all that susceptible to outside influence in most of my tastes! But I was very much a loner in my most musically formative years, in terms of peer associations. There was my family, the church, and the extended family to influence me, and that was about it.
My musical tastes are happily eclectic. Mom’s family makes music the way other people breathe, and I inherited a lifelong love for gospel music from them which survived my departure from Christianity. My parents listened to “classic country” more than anything else (hello, Hank Williams Sr. and Johnny Cash!), but they also had some albums by Herb Albert and the Tiajuana Brass, which may have started my love of instrumental music.6It definitely wasn’t their copy of The Percy Faith Strings Play the Beatles! They didn’t return a Columbia Music Club postcard fast enough and ended up with a copy of The Association’s Greatest Hits, which encouraged my inordinate fondness for the soft rock of the ’60s. Someone at work gave Daddy Michael Frank’s Sleeping Gypsy, which he immediately passed on to me, giving me a taste for vocal jazz. Thanks to playing in the school band from sixth through tenth grades, I was exposed to Claude Bolling and Jean-Pierre Rampal’s Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio. I immediately acquired a cassette of it and wore it slap out.
I am privileged in that I grew up making music. In Southern Baptist churches, children are put in the choir as soon as they’re out of diapers. Then my second-grade class learned to play the ukulele. I loved that thing! (I wish I’d kept playing, but instead, I’m trying to re-learn it now.) I got to take piano lessons in the fifth grade. That’s one of the few absolute requirements my mother insisted on—each of her children had to take at least one year of piano lessons. I’m the only one of us three who went past the one year,7My siblings were too antsy to sit at the piano long to practice but I didn’t get to get much farther. First, we moved from Gadsden, Alabama to Tucker, Georgia, leaving my first teacher (Marjorie Hall, who had also been Mom’s teacher when Mom was a child) inaccessible. Then, my second teacher, Mrs. Morris decided to quit teaching. She referred her former students to Tracy Roberts, one of her advanced students. After about six months, Tracy said she couldn’t teach me anymore and recommended that my parents take me to a more experienced teacher. Unfortunately, my parents’ main criteria for piano teachers seems to have been whether I could walk to their homes, and that exhausted the neighborhood supply of teachers, so that was the end of my piano instruction.
By the sixth grade, though, I was in band class at school. Girls played either the flute or the clarinet in Mr. Marty’s band, and I managed to get sounds out of a flute the first time one was handed to me so that’s what I played. I tried the school choir, too, but the teacher was quite the bitch, so I dropped it ’til high school. I did, however, begin performing as a vocal soloist at church. Our youth director, Lawrence Wilson (who was also the music director), forced me to sing a solo in some youth choir production. I was terrified, and I really hated being the center of anyone’s attention for any reason. I did gain confidence with time, happily. I was a regular soloist until I left the Christian church altogether, and picked it up again later when I was part of a Unitarian Universalist congregation.
I stuck with the band until the tenth grade or so when I tried out for and got into the mixed performing chorus, The Singing Patriots. I had to pick one or the other and choir was more enjoyable. I’m happy that I was still in the band while J.D. Mardis was our director (that was my freshman year) because he was incredible. I took two music theory classes in addition to the regular band classes and I’m forever grateful to him for those, which included my first introduction to ear training. Because of him, too, I learned to play the bassoon, oboe, and piccolo. I was the accompanist for the children’s and senior citizens’ choirs at church during high school, too, volunteered by my mother.
The only thing I’ve ever truly missed about the Southern Baptist church was the music, and Mom keeps trying to use it to get me involved again. “Just come sing in the choir for this production. We need sopranos!” (It isn’t working.)