Well, here’s another subject that I think we can all relate to: music.
(I’m writing in English, but would love to hear your comments in Spanish too).
My idea here is not particularly to talk about what types of music we like, but how it affects us, where and when and how we listen to it.
Some people use music for fun, to relax, to console themselves, sometimes even to torture themselves – who hasn’t played «our song» over and over again after a split up? Then, there are others who’d rather play It’s raining Men at full blast after a romantic rift!
Do you like to always have music there, in the background, without paying too much attention to it? Or do you like it to be fed directly down your lugholes through the earphones? (I can’t stand earphones so I’ve never had an MP3, listened to music on my mobile or anything like that. If I’m in a public place, I just have to do without music).
Is it good enough for you if the sound is pleasing to your ear, or do you find yourself analysing the quality of the voice/instrumentals? I was recently asked if I really liked one of the most famous British groups from the 20th century. I (warily) admitted that I wasn’t that crazy about them. My interlocutor appeared to be delighted and looked at me as if I were an oracle of wisdom. He went on to explain how many other guitarists, keyboard players, and drummers were technically infinitely superior to the members of the renowned band. I had never given this any thought. I just don’t like their style very much.
And then there’s the lyrics. How important are they to you? When I first came to Spain and witnessed how popular English and American music was amongst people who had no idea of the language, I thought they were missing the best. However, I have to admit that there are many songs that I love and have never really paid attention to their lyrics or the message they were trying to transmit. Some can actually be a disappointment when you understand how shallow the words are.
So now, over to you…what does music do for you?
For me, it’s the thing that sets the mood. Often it’s just the sound and not the lyrics. I’m just thinking of the music I often listen to in languages I don’t have a mastery of. Most of the time I have no idea what is being said. And who cares?
And so often I sing along with songs that I know well and suddenly stop to analyze the lyrics and think: «That makes absolutely no sense!» And who cares?
But when the two come together — ah, that’s nice!
Ohh, la música. ¿Has dicho algo, Nibbles? Ese es un tema capital, para mí casi vital, porque no me imagino la vida sin ella. Fue mi primer amor cuando sólo era un niño… y a estas alturas, aún sigo enamorado. Hasta que nos separen 🙂 . Pero he de precisar, ya que no me parece oro todo lo que reluce.
Quiero decir que yo llamo música a esa melodía que al percibirla, sin saber por qué, me emociona, me hace vibrar y, en ocasiones, llega a erizarme la piel. Y esto me puede suceder, tanto con una sinfonía o un aria de una ópera clásica, como con determinadas canciones ligeras y populares, sin olvidar –tirando un poco para casa– algunos palos del flamenco. Si una composición no me produce esas sensaciones, posiblemente también será música, pero no mi música.
Por eso yo no podría tener de fondo una melodía que me agradase. Ahora mismo tendría que dejar de escribir si en algún medio apareciese Plácido Domingo interpretando Una furtiva lágrima, o Iva Zanicchi con esa composición de Theodorakis llamada Un fiume amaro, o la portuguesa Carminho, con esa voz que enamora, cantando Perdóname con Pablo Alborán, por poner ejemplos muy diversos.
Ea, pues yo ya me he confesado. Que pase el siguiente penitente. 🙂
P. D.: No sería correcto que citara su nombre sin su consentimiento, pero el caso es que entre los contertulios blasiteros tenenos a un virtuoso de la guitarra. Desde aquí le pido que pierda su timidez y nos deleite con alguna de las interpretaciones que tiene grabadas.
Y si hay otros artistas entre vosotros, lo mismo digo, que no lo piensen más y que den un paso al frente.
Añado ahora los enlaces, a ver si así el sistema no considera que este escrito es un spam (bueno, puede que lo sea, según se mire 🙂 )
Buenas tardes a todos:
Coincido en casi todo con lo que ha dicho Robin hace un ratito; solo tengo algo que añadir y estoy segura de que a él no le pasa: lo mío con la música es una batalla perdida porque, en lugar de oído, Dios me dio orejas.
Solo sé que hay ciertos momentos en que escuchar música me pone los pelos de punta, como siempre que tengo ocasión de encontrarme con Brigitte Engerer, especialmente ella, interpretando cualquiera de los nocturnos de Chopin. Y me los encuentro a menudo porque voy a buscarlos. El tiempo que duran son para mí momentos de plena felicidad, no hay nada más en mi pensamiento.
Pero también me emociona Jacques Brel cuando canta/recita Ne me quitte pas. Algo tiene esa canción que me emociona hasta el punto de que consigue arrancarme alguna lagrimilla que otra mientras la escucho. Ya sé que puede resultar insólito y hasta incomprensible, pero así es. Cuando pongo este vídeo cierro los ojos, pero no para concentrarme en la música, es para no ver a Brel… 🙁
Y María Callas, para mí la mejor en su género. Sin inmutarse, como en esta Casta diva que tengo casi rayada de tanto pasarla. No me canso, cuanto más la escucho más disfruto.
Pero no puedo dejar de lado a Joe Cocker, con esa voz bronca y a la vez dulce cantando Unchain my heart o You can leave your hat on.
Como apenas entendía lo que dice, busqué las letras y así está mejor, pero tampoco ha cambiado nada.
Me gusta escuchar música cuando estoy sola. Suelo hacerlo de noche, bendito insomnio. Con auriculares, por consideración a mis vecinos.
También me gustan las canciones de Rocío Jurado y las de Mecano, Tina Turner…
Hello Nibbles and everyone.
Thanks for writing in English, Nibbles (and Gerardo); it’s very good for many of us.
I couldn’t agree more with what Gerardo said: «often it’s just the sound and not the lyrics». This is what makes music timeless and without borders.
I use earphones; actually, have to do it a lot in summer to try, in vain, to block out or drown out the constant loud noise my next-door neighbours make, day and night.
Como Madri, no tengo buen oído para la música. Aunque me habría gustado mucho tocar un instrumento a la perfección o cantar bien, soy consciente de que no forman parte de mis habilidades. Yo también coincido con lo que dice Robin. La música me ha acompañado a lo largo de mi vida, aunque no toda me llega.
Just one further comment regarding the «it’s the sound and not the lyrics» comment. I’m thinking of the instrumental music now. I just love what I know as: modern jazz and guitar instrumentals (Govi [Guitar Passion], and Ottmar Liebert [Nouveau Flamenco]).
Thanks, everyone, for your comments and for taking the trouble to add those links. I had initially said that I wasn’t asking about the types of music you like, or specifically the singers or groups, but there’s some really nice stuff there.
Robin, I had never heard of Carminho and whilst I am familiar with the name of Paco Alborán, I’m not sure that I could have named a single song of his, so I enjoyed listening to something new as well as reminiscing about a great holiday with the video!
And that’s another point, music can transport us both in time and place. It brings back memories but it also lets our imagination fly. I’ve never (yet) been to Greece, but listening to Iva Zanicchi or Nana Mouskouri (or even some tracks/covers by Joan Baez, Moustaki or Leonard Cohen), I can easily picture myself there.
Those of you who have travelled far and wide, how did you feel about the traditional (and new) music of the countries you stayed in? (Blasita, I’m particularly curious about Russia).
Is music an important part of your agenda when you travel for pleasure? Would you give anything to hear jazz in New Orleans, samba in Río or a fado in Portugal?
Going back to how you listen to music, we’ve not yet mentioned live concerts. I’ve been to a few and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I’d only go to a concert of a musician/singer/group I already knew I liked. The idea of a music festival with dozens of artists doesn’t really grab me. Maybe I should open my horizons a bit more.
To finish, I hope that guitarist Robin mentioned soon steps forward and offers us some musical joy.
Hi Nibbles and everyone.
Russia is a huge country (some students of mine regarded Russia as a continent in itself) and so there’s a variety of music styles, ethnic groups have their own folk music, etc. I lived only five years in Moscow and almost always worked seven days a week, so actually I didn’t have the time to go to concerts or even listen to music for fun and I’m afraid I’m no expert at all. I was able to do it in other countries though; e.g. I listened to a lot of American and Australian country, pop and rock music. I really did enjoy beautifully played classic music in the passages of the Moscow metro every day on my way to work. At the time I was in Moscow rock bands were very popular, and some of them sang in English. There’s one I particularly like: Chaif, and old Russian rock band that is well known in Russia and surrounding countries.
Have a good day!
Hello, Nibbles and everyone,
Right at the start of a film in my collection, someone says «Western music doesn’t end in Greece and eastern music start in Turkey.» It does indeed appear to be much more complicated than that. Nevertheless, when I was in Turkey, I found it difficult to relate to traditional Turkish folk or classical music. Three factors got in the way, I think:
1) Traditional Turkish music is monophonic whereas I grew up with polyphonic music, music with chords. I love chords.
2) I don’t really want to use the word «wailing», but that’s what the singing on a lot of Turkish music often sounds like to me.
3) Traditional Turkish music uses a different system of tones from western music. I conclude that my ear is not adjusted to these.
Many people in ‘eastern’ countries enjoy western music, so I started wondering whether I shouldn’t be enjoying ‘eastern’ music. I wish I could, not least because I love looking at Turkish stringed instruments: the bağlama, the saz, (terms which for some Turks are synonyms) etc. Only in Istanbul have I seen ten musical instrument shops clustered together. Actually, there is an exception: some of the music of Orhan Gencebay, a saz player who has sold fifty million albums in Turkey. He gets it in the neck from both sides: From the traditionalists, because he introduced a few western innovations (which, ironically perhaps, arrived in Turkey via Egypt); and from the western-oriented Turks, because he draws out words in an ‘Arabic’ way and sings about the difficulties and disappointments of the poor who have recently arrived in the big cities. Some of his work has a psychedelic feel that appeals to me. Gencebay is an interesting character because, having been taught by a Crimean Tatar who had attended a conservatoire in the Ukraine, he has a foot in both musical camps. Not to mention that he also managed to fit in a career as a matinee idol who starred in popular films with simple themes such as the cunning of the city dwellers versus the purity of the recent arrival from the provinces (imagine Engelbert Humperdinck, for whom he was a dead ringer – or maybe you’re not old enough to remember him!)
I found your comments very interesting. I’m not familiar with Turkish music at all, but if I’d thought about it, I probably would have been able to imagine that the contrast between occidental and oriental styles would bring about a lot of nasty clashes and also a few fortunate fusions.
This is probably not the best place to make this confession, but some flamenco sounds like pitiless wailing to me too. I like some of the lighter stuff, but the deeper strains require an understanding that will always be beyond me. I think it needs to be in your blood or at least your cultural background. And, yet, I regret that. I feel I’m missing out on something that others feel so intensely. You can love pop, get excited by rock, feel inspired by classical, but it would seem that you should live and breathe flamenco.
And that brings me back to HOW, in what circumstances, we listen to music. At the age of 17, I went to a typical tourist-style «tablao flamenco» in Córdoba. Not awful, but not my cup of tea, really. Through a weird set of circumstances, about 20 years later and here, in La Rioja, I was invited to a gitano’s house and the after-dinner entertainment was dancing and singing. Watching those (amateur) people express their inner feelings was spine-chilling and highly enjoyable in every sense.
I’m sure you did the right thing by taking up that invitation, Nibbles. You got right to the source of the music. The next time I go to Istanbul (which may not be for a while, what with mounting authoritarianism and bombs going off in areas of the city that I have visited) I might visit a «türkü» bar. These are places that put on live saz music and dispense beer, so only half of the experience will seem strange and, Turks being Turks, someone’s bound to take me under their arm. As the tempo increases and the booze kicks in, people get to their feet to dance the halay, which involves the linking of fingers. Dancing, let alone eastern-Mediterranean-style dancing with the hands, is not really me («cold» northern European that I am) – but you never know.
Back on-topic now (I hope): I don’t like music as background noise. I listen to the whole piece: I can’t separate out the drumming or anything like that, so for me the good drummers are just the people who drum on the tunes I like. Most of the music I listen to is fairly raw, so quality of voice/instrument doesn’t really come into it for me. Earphones don’t appeal. I just bung a CD on the old player, often while I’m shaving. Lyrics are not important to me either. My spirits are lifted by tunes, not by lyrics. The wonder of music lies in the fact that we don’tunderstand why some of it moves us and some of it doesn’t.