about charlemagne palestine and types of listening and all:

until the advent of recording in the 20th century, after all, classical music was expected to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for most people. so was any type of music that required a special performer. the only music you heard over and over was that which you or a family member (or maybe a close friend) could make yourself. (a beethoven symphony wasn’t considered inferior to “happy birthday” because it was heard less often). all the forms and conventions of classical music were established with this in mind. a case could be made that the symphony was designed to be a special event, like a theatre performance, not as something to be experienced regularly. modernist composition is still widely seen as continuation of the “classical” (an unfortunate term in this case but preferable to the even more unfortunate “serious” or “art”) music tradition.

the effect of the new medium of recording on musical content is an interesting question. it is believed by some that concert piees have become less repetitive and more complex. (this does not, of course, apply in the case of minimalism). but though we can take more time to absorb a piece over repeated listenings, are we less accustomed to paying close attention — to listening — on a given listening? when satie composed his “furniture music,” to be treated as background music during intermissions at a concert, people stopped and listened anyway. he ran through the room shouting “parlez!” now we are bombarded with background music. how has this changed the ways we perceive, value, and appreciate music?

and different types of music do of course generate meaning and value in different ways. and the one-time experience — be it one of deep listening or throwaway surface-level indulgence or nostalgic reverie — can of course be as or more meaningful as the familiar habit. (i, for example, have no intention of making “peace of mind” or “crucify” part of my regular listening). and where i might find led zeppelin or a sonic youth spoken-word track absurdly cheesy most times, the times when i do buy into the cheese give them value. i think there’s been at least one time when any given piece of music in my collection has seemed lame.

(you opened this up, tom, with your non-single, non-link post).