Friday, June 17, 2011

First Discussion for my Online Summer Jazz Appreciation Class

So, with a summer session class on the books I'll be working this summer. Since I'm pretty bad at keeping up with the blogging I'm going to cross post the discussions from that class here for all to see.

Here is the first......

Hi folks -

One of the great things about a music class is that we all walk into that class with an idea about the topic. We ALL listen to music regularly - while we clean the house, cook dinner, drive to work or school or hang out with friends. This isn't like astro-physics where we walk into the class complete blank slates with regard to the topic.

We know something about music - we know what we like. But do we know why we like it?

That's what this discussion is about. What do you listen to and why? Don't default to, "because it has a good beat" or "because it sounds good". Try to dig deeper.

To that end, I'll go first...

What do I listen to? Well that is a loaded question. I listen to Eminem, Duncan Sheik, Ben Folds, Van Halen (early stuff!), Bjork, Imogen Heap and countless other things. And that isn't counting jazz and classical music which I love and adore as much as my children...

OK - that was over the top, but you get the point.

I listen to a lot of jazz artists, the usual suspects, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus to start with. But I also listen to a lot of guitarists - like Pat Metheny, Wes Montgomery, Jonathan Kreisberg (who I brought to CSUB last year for a killin' show) and Lage Lund.

While what I listen to is very diverse, I have learned that I like smart music. Now, don't think that I mean I like music for and by smart people - that's not what I mean. I mean I like music that is smart, well crafted, well put together, unexpected, emotionally powerful, strong and undeniable. Music that doesn't let you sit there listlessly and have it wash over you. You need to meet it half way because it is challenging you in some way. Lyrically, harmonically, melodically, rhythmically, sonically. SOMETHING has to be pushing me musically - and then I respond. Usually very strongly.

So, I want to see/hear that the artist has poured himself/herself into the music in such a way that it is genuine and personal and forces itself upon you in a way that makes it impossible to ignore.

Some current(ish) songs that do that for me?

Earthbound Starlight by Duncan Sheik

Weightless by Becca Stevens Band

On the Radio by Regina Spektor

Claire's Ninth by Ben Folds

21 by Jonathan Kreisberg

That's just a few of thousands. Hopefully this will inspire you to dig deep and tell me something I don't know about the music that you love and cherish...