Music, Music, Music

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 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.)

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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