Sunday, November 7, 2010

Music is Music

I’ve been reading Listen to This, the new book by Alex Ross, classical music critic for The New Yorker.  He describes getting his first iPod and loading all of his CDs onto it and then putting it on shuffle. 

The little machine went crashing through barriers of style in ways that changed how I listened.  One day it jumped from the furious crescendo of “Dance of the Earth,” ending Part I of The Rite of Spring, into the hot jam of Louis Armstrong‘s “West End Blues".  The first became a gigantic upbeat to the second.  On the iPod, music is freed from all fatuous self-definitions and delusions of significance.  There are no record jackets depicting bombastic Alpine scenes or celebrity conductors with a  family resemblance to Rudolf Hess.  Instead, as Berg once remarked to Gershwin, music is music.

I resisted putting very much classical music on my iPod for a long time but I eventually did it and I also often let the iPod shuffle from Grieg to Beyonce to Bruce Springsteen to Benny Goodman.  Music is music.