Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On Nostalgia and Repetition

Chuck Klosterman's article Nostalgia on Repeat at Grantland struck a chord with me.

Like Klosterman, I had a limited set of albums and cassettes when I was a kid. When I lived in Sierra Leone between the ages of 4 and 6, we had no television, and radio was pretty useless. All I did was listen to a short list of albums:
  • Easy Rider (motion picture soundtrack)
  • Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by The Beatles
  • ABC, by The Jackson 5
  • The Sound of Music (motion picture soundtrack)
  • 1812 Overture, by Tchaikovsky
  • Carnival of the Animals, by Saint Saens
That's it. I listened to those albums pretty much every day for easily a year and a half. I put a lot of time in listening to these albums, and thus listening to anything from them brings back feelings that are out of proportion to the quality of the music (though you gotta admit that it isn't a bad list of albums. It could have been a whole lot worse, right?).

The great mathematician John von Neumann said "Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them." As a math educator, I interpret this as a call to practice, practice, practice. I wonder if this idea can apply to music as well? Perhaps the key to really appreciating music is to listen, listen, listen.

I still sometimes get into a mood where I listen to the same album (or short list of albums) pretty often in a short time. The good new is that I'm pretty sure that Boy Kid does the repetition thing, too. The bad news is that his list of albums isn't nearly as good as mine was. One step at a time.

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