Back during the last century when my kids were growing up, we (me and my kids) had this conversation (actually an all-out verbal bru ha ha) regularly (meaning at least twice a week). Then we reached a practical compromise: earphones.
Finally, some hard-fought ever precious quiet and sweet verbal peace fell upon our humble hacienda, but it was only temporary.
The argument merely switched from MUSIC versus NOISE to some possible TEMPORARY hearing damage (in their collective opinion) versus some likely PERMANENT hearing damage (in my WORTHLESS parental opinion).
All ended well, however; they eventually came to their senses, but it wasn’t my great wisdom and constant badgering that caused this.
It was the patience and great communicative ability of their now deceased but well-love pediatrician that made them see the dangers and permanent nature of hearing damage due to constant exposure to excessively high decibel levels.
They’re long out of my hacienda and into their own haciendas and budding professional careers… AND minus any hearing damage.
In fact, THEY now REEL at the sight of teenagers totally immersed into what THEY call “MUSIC” that’s pumping directly into their ears through earphones and at decibel levels high enough for the sound to be heard by others from as far away as fifteen feet.
Life can be damn good, I tell you! And while I’m still not convinced that God exists, that they’re now sounding like their hopelessly stupid father sounded back in ancient times tends to lend a tad of credence to the possibility.
Now, with my having said all of this, I want to emphasize a few more things concerning the difference between MUSIC and NOISE. Let’s begin with the concept of PERFECT PITCH.
Perfect pitch does NOT refer to a musical note’s absoluteness. Instead, it refers to a human being’s ability to RECOGNIZE the EXACT pitch of ANY musical note and/or the ability to PRODUCE any given note PERFECTLY.
Now, I have no idea how many people CAN do this. I suspect that many professional musicians have this ability, but what I AM sure of is that I can’t do it.
Good music has always been RELATIVE. More specifically, it’s individually relative; listeners get to decide, for themselves, what’s “pleasing.” On the other hand, music is individually ABSOLUTE in its AUDIBLE definitions.
Think about it; put another way, it’s music that describes what various emotions SOUND like to those listening to it, especially when it comes to sorrow, joy, and trepidation.
Again, with my having said this, let me be very clear about specific alleged “musical” sounds relative to my OWN perspectives. For me, music either sounds pleasant, or it doesn’t.
Long-haired dudes bellowing muddled words into microphones as their bandmates blast forth with a plethora of house-vibrating decibel producing string instruments and drums is NOT music—at least not in MY mind.
And I’d feel the same even if I were a type who enjoys marinating, for several hours at a pop, in an atmosphere of (quoting Dave Barry) “1-part oxygen, 4-parts nitrogen, and 17-parts doobie vapor.”
Also, speaking ONLY for myself, I don’t think that two of the music world’s SO CALLED musical instruments produce any music at all. This applies to bagpipes—yep I’m going to hear from the cops and firefighters about this—and to the accordion.
I feel this way about bagpipes in absolute terms, no matter what “music” they’re screeching out, and I say it about accordions whenever they’re used to play polkas.
Concerning the bagpipes, one of the more alarming statistics that I’ve read over the past year is that, in this country, more people are playing them TODAY than at any other time in our history.
Again, quoting Dave Barry, an undisputed expert on the subject, “Bagpipes are NOT musical instruments; the Scots use them as a Breathalyzer™ test. Folks blow into one end, and if the sound that comes out of the other end fails to make them want to kill themselves, they’re NOT drunk enough.”
As for accordions, I think my dismay has more to do with polkas than the instrument itself. I HATE polkas. I’m convinced that there has been only ONE original polka ever written; all the others are that SAME one, only by different names. In my estimation, all polkas sound the same because one has to be stumbling drunk to get through one.
Perhaps if I were to let myself marinate a bit in the pot-induced environment that I described a few paragraphs above, I’d change my mind about the accordion. However, not even being stoned out of my mind could ever change my opinion of the BAGPIPES.
But you know, now that I think about it, I may have been premature in self-evaluating my inability to recognize perfect pitch.
Right now, with my eyes closed, I’m imagining the sound of an accordion landing on top of a set of bagpipes in the bottom of a garbage dumpster. YES, by God, I think I’ve got it.