Monthly Archives: October 2010

Music Lit Classes Don’t Always Kill My Love of Music

So one of my oldest and favourite blog posts expresses my deep dislike of music lit classes. Today I admit that this has not lasted. See, I’m taking the class Music of the Romantic Era right now, and it is fantastic. It is probably my favourite class right now. I don’t think this is just to do with my teacher, though he is awesome. Even though at times it feels like he knows everything, and he is very funny, my first Music Lit teacher was amazing too. Not to say that having a good teacher doesn’t help, it just doesn’t always make the class.

The time period the class is focusing on(19th century) is definitely appealing to me, as I am partial to the experimentation that really became the norm during that time. I love dissonance, and pieces that aren’t written to any particular form, but are just meant to evoke emotions and sound amazing. I admit that the rules followed in earlier eras of music don’t usually result in pieces that take my breath away.

In addition to the 19th century in particular, I like that we are focusing on a time period at all. My first Music Lit class was more of a Greatest Hits class and did not go into depth very much. We rapidly went from the 13th century to the 20th, with most of the class being memorising the birth and death dates of composers and learning to recognise their best-known works. My second Music Lit class did focus on the Medieval Era, but the teacher was dreadful. I think her best moment was when she asked us to name which medieval instrument was which, on a recording with them all playing at once, before we had heard or even seen pictures of any of them. All we had was a list of names. (Then there was the time when she insisted on continuing to mispronounce “violoncello” after I pointed out she was saying it wrong because changing her pronunciation would “confuse the other students.”) So yes, the focus and the teacher are much improved.

The other major difference I have noticed is my fellow classmates. Whereas before Music Lit was a required class for all music majors, this class is optional, so the people taking it have chosen to, and approach the work differently. Discussions are more interesting, and people don’t goof off during class.

All of this being said, there are some parts of the class that fit into my previous blog entry. For instance, whilst listening to Schumann’s Carnavale, we had an article written about his use of masculinity and femininity in the piece. And maybe it’s just me, but nothing really jumped out at me as overly feminine or masculine. Also, taking this class has made me realise that I don’t like Mendelssohn anywhere near as much as I thought I did, which has made me very sad. I suspect there will be a few more cases like both of these, but for the most part, I am happy with this class. My personal interests play a big part in how I perceive these classes, and I know I only truly feel comfortable discussing music in terms of how I perceive it and relate it to my own life, rather than to try to speak for both the composer and everyone else. I am fortunate in that my teacher is good about supplying letters by the composers and reviews written by their fellow composers of the time, both of which relieve my discomfort a bit.

0 minutes left – the 5 minutes that I worked on this on Monday = -5 minutes left.


Home?

So, as probably a lot of you know, I am back at college. For those of you who I am woefully out of touch with, those who have randomly stumbled across this blog, and those who just like to be reminded of things, I left this school a little over a year ago, not only not intending to return to the school in particular, but not intending to return to any school ever again. I got a job in a bagel shop and took my GED(I had never graduated high school). And I thought that was it until I got the urge to reapply to my old school.

Now that I’m here, I’m not quite sure what to think. Wednesdays are overfilled with classes and meetings and the dodgeball I wish I didn’t have to go to, but have to because of physical education requirements. (My dorm is up a very steep hill which I climb multiple times every day. In dodgeball, I mostly stand in a corner trying not to be noticed. One time, I got hit in the face twice. Why do I need this again?) Weekends spent on campus seem to be filled with bad luck. But Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays are usually pretty good, so I guess that’s a bit more than half my time spent being okay. I genuinely like all of my classes, and, while I am generally bad at people, I have a smallish sort of social life, which is kind of cool, except on weekends.

What surprises me most though is the realisation that I am living. By that, I do not mean that the zombie punk dress was a subtle hint and that I ran into a necromancer last month. It just struck me this evening that I’m used to the hill, I have my schedule memorised, I have all relevant numbers for living here memorised, and I recognise most of the people on campus by face at the least. But more than that, my brain is not thinking of this campus as a strange place where I’m staying until I go home. I have accepted being here as my life, which is a lot more than I had back in Baltimore.

Despite not seeing my dorm room as just a place to sleep until classes are done, I don’t think I can really call where I am home. In addition to classes, I have noticed that the band Placebo has secured a spot in my favourite bands/musicians of all time alongside the likes of Emilie Autumn, Garbage, and Patrick Wolf(that is not the full list). The first song on their first album(also titled Placebo) is called Come Home and I have become addicted to it. Although I can(and have) give a line-by-line breakdown about why I connect to this song so much, I will limit myself to just mentioning the phrase “come home” which in the song is repeated as a chorus, as it relates to me, and probably only me. I don’t hear this line as talking to another person. I hear it as talking to myself. Because despite the fact that this school has been the closest I have ever felt to having a home, it still isn’t. I’m still looking for my home, and in the back of my mind, I still see being here as temporary.

-2 minutes.