Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Physiology of Music

Recently, I noticed that it had been a long time since I had seriously listened to music—or listened to serious music, if you will. When I do put something on, it's as background for cooking or cleaning, for which I normally use jazz and pop respectively.

This week, I've been putting classical music on in the mornings after the family leaves for work and school. Yesterday it was Shostakovich, today it's Bach. Tomorrow it'll be Haydn. By 9:00 I'm ready to work. Frankly, it's been a long time since I've been truly ready for work. This is helping. It's an aspect of living that I have been neglecting.

Music may be lower on Maslow's hierarchy of needs than we sometimes assume. Perhaps it is true that, for a musician, playing is work done towards self-actualization, just as a writer must write to be himmerherself. But to not even listen to serious music for extended periods of time is like not drinking water, or being exposed to sunlight, or having sex. It's a physiological need.

* * *

Let me take this opportunity to lament the fact that we are at present squandering the youth of our young people in poorly structured undergraduate programs situated on more or less debauched campuses. If these same young people spent an hour every morning listening to serious music, then an hour or two writing intelligent prose, then two or three hours in class or, better, in seminars, then a few hours in the evening reading serious literature, punctuated of course by the charms and furies of social life (while eating, while playing, and yes before sleeping) their minds would become something to behold. Something altogether more useful to the species than what we are bilding these days.

1 comment:

Andrew Shields said...

Ah, the undergraduate years. Jazz DJ at dawn, classes, writing, reading, lots of coffee and guitar playing, some coffee sales (to Jonathan, among others, though we didn't know each other except as customer and barista then, and the word barista was not common yet), varying quantities of other drugs from year to year, and lots of ... well, lots of wishing for lots of sex ... :-)