Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Music in the popular consciousness

Yesterday, a coworker was listening to some interesting music in her phone, and I asked her what it was.

"It's Florence + The Machine!" she answered. "This music always makes me want to cry, it's so good."

"I think I've heard of that," I said, surprised. I joked about my woeful lack of knowledge about popular music (a trend that began well before I started to pursue classical music, somehow even when popular music was all I listened to).

"But I like some classical music, too," said my coworker. "I love, what's it called... 'Lacrimosa"."

"That's actually part of a requiem mass," I answered. "Do you mean Mozart's setting?" I hummed it.

"Yes!" she said. "Ugh, it's so beautiful. I'd love to hear more stuff like that."

I love conversations like these because, 1) they make me feel a little smarter (ha, ha); 2) it's interesting to see which classical pieces are in the popular consciousness (Pagliacci is another one people just seem to know); and 3) it proves to me that people do have a liking for, and reaction to, this music even if they haven't been taught about it.

It brings me back, in a way, to a conversation we had last class--are program notes and in-depth information about these pieces always necessary? I think they certainly enhance the musical experience, and the academic high-brow person in me does, admittedly, cringe a little at the thought of certain pieces of information going unknown by the listener--but my coworker had a reaction to a movement of Mozart's Requiem Mass without even knowing what it was. She loved it!

I do think continued education on classical music is vitally important, but to draw in new enthusiasts, it might be better at first not to scare them away by telling them how to listen.

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