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no wonder so few people listen to classical music.
June 27, 2001 9:44 AM   Subscribe

no wonder so few people listen to classical music. "Appreciation of classical music may require more brain power."
posted by drunkkeith (32 comments total)

 
Yes, you can generalize about the rest of the population based on the reactions of dementia patients. A case study of the oldest psychological study problem in the book. Goes all the way back to Freud, doesn't it? I'm presuming that the report is highly preliminary.
posted by raysmj at 10:04 AM on June 27, 2001


And not only generalizing people, but generalizing music under "classical" and "pop". There's vast difference between Baroque and Romantic music, and vast difference between Peter Gabriel's Solsbury Hill (in 7/4 time, or if you prefer to think about it, alternating 3/4 and 4/4 measures) and, uh, [insert fluffy 3 chord pop group here].
posted by girlhacker at 10:38 AM on June 27, 2001


Exactly. Most rock/pop now is based on a very romantic sensibility: "I like this music because I enjoy it, and it speaks to me emotionally on an immediate level." While it's true that appreciation of some "classical" music requires an intellectual bent, that's because it's designed to be analyzed. At the same time, other periods in "classical" music also were romantic, meaning that such analysis (and hence intellectualism) is far less useful. The fact that classical music is institutionalised in universities and other such organizations adds to the illusion that it's inherently more "intellectual" -- after all, jazz performance and appreciation is now taught in every college music department, but when it first arose I'm sure the same debate went on. Trust me, in fifty years you'll be able to take a course on "OK Computer" in school.
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:42 AM on June 27, 2001


And god forbid you should like both.
posted by witchstone at 10:43 AM on June 27, 2001


Trust me, in fifty years you'll be able to take a course on "OK Computer" in school.


Imagine a voice major singing Britney Spear's "song cycle" for her senior recital.
posted by gyc at 11:29 AM on June 27, 2001


GYC, surely you're not comparing Brittney to Radiohead...
posted by tweebiscuit at 11:31 AM on June 27, 2001


I had a discussion on a progressive rock newsgroup once and got smacked down for my thesis that people who like complicated music are obviously more intelligent than those who don't. I had long thought of intelligence as "the ability to cope with complexity" and so it seemed natural to me that music that was more complex than usual could only be appreciated by those with sufficient intelligence.

Apparently, however, there are a lot of musicians in the prog rock scene who can play the most amazingly complex music but who are pretty dumb otherwise. That was the counter to my argument. I would have thought that you'd have to think about what you were going to play, that you'd have to come up with it before you could play it, but I guess many musicians don't operate in quite so conscious a fashion.

Nice to see I might be right after all, sorta.
posted by kindall at 11:42 AM on June 27, 2001


I'm curious as to if there is a working definition of intelligence let alone a reliable way of measuring it. IQ tests do a good job at testing how well you can take a test compared to others taking the same test.

So they side-step this whole question and focus on mental illness which could have been interesting if you never heard that musicians of all sorts, even classical!, have been diagnosed with something or another.

I think the real question is how much brainpower do you need to see through specious research? Evidently not much.
posted by skallas at 11:51 AM on June 27, 2001


This sounds like an extention of the "Mozart Effect", in which early exposure to music improves spatial reasoning.
posted by skyline at 12:05 PM on June 27, 2001


Mozart Effect, that is.
posted by skyline at 12:06 PM on June 27, 2001


even if the study at the top of this thread is right, all it means is that people who like complicated music use more brainpower while listening than people who like standard pop. however, that doesn't mean that they're smarter. people listen to music for different reasons - some for a cerebral kick, some just to relax.
posted by lbergstr at 12:09 PM on June 27, 2001


wagner. people who say wagner...
posted by clavdivs at 12:21 PM on June 27, 2001


The Mozart Effect was shown to be horses*** a couple of years ago. Sold a lot of Mozart and kiddie toys which played Mozart, etc., though. Pretty harmless overall.
posted by raysmj at 12:22 PM on June 27, 2001


Mozart Effect? Catch up with the times, its now the REM Effect. I can't see how listening to anything melodic or harmonic can be anything but beneficial.
posted by skallas at 12:22 PM on June 27, 2001


Pfah. Did anyone else read this and think "confirmation bias?"
posted by Skot at 12:24 PM on June 27, 2001


Skot: Yes, pretty much what I was saying in the first post. I can't stand the Skeptic's Dictionary, by the way. Mr. Skeptic gets to sit there and flame everybody and pretend he's freakin' Socrates, while repeating "science" as often as the guy in that Thomas Dolby song. Just had to get that out. But thanks anyway!
posted by raysmj at 12:28 PM on June 27, 2001


Pretend he's Socrates? Sounds like someone's engaging in an ad hominem attack!

:::Duck::: Sorry, I couldn't resist. ;) Yeah, he can be pretty insufferable; it was just the first link I thought of off the top of my head.
posted by Skot at 12:37 PM on June 27, 2001


Skot: Actually, on second thought, think the more precise term is "selection bias." What sample you select can make for biased research, in other words. I remember what to look for. Just not much of a terminology person. Oh, and Skep just left me miffed a couple of days ago. Long story.
posted by raysmj at 12:50 PM on June 27, 2001


Almost every Mozart effect experiment has been conducted using Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major.

This fact should in no way impact this discussion.
posted by iceberg273 at 12:52 PM on June 27, 2001


iceberg: It's a neat fact, though. Experts use "neat" for precision in quantitative research all the time.
posted by raysmj at 1:10 PM on June 27, 2001


when I did a mozart experiment with rats in ninth grade I used eine kleine nachtmusik.

(also, the music rats did seem to be better at running a maze, but not enough to be statistically significant. plus it was a high school freshman's science fair project.)
posted by rabi at 1:11 PM on June 27, 2001


Well, there's a reason why Hoftstader wrote Gödel, Escher, Bach, and not Gödel, Escher, Bee Gees. In that there's a calculus-like complexity to a fugue that you don't get on MTV. But that's apples and oranges: there were plenty of Bach's contemporaries who put out crap, and there are plenty of jungle DJs putting together complex, challenging pieces.

Complex, substantial things are harder to understand than simplistic (though not necessarily simple) things. They also tend to be more rewarding. I don't have a problem with that.
posted by holgate at 1:16 PM on June 27, 2001


Holgate -- yep, that's a classic example of a classical appreciation of music. ("classical" not in sense of so-called "classical music," but in the immediate aesthetics vs. underlying form dichotomy. See Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
posted by tweebiscuit at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2001


<off-topic>I've more recently heard of the Vivaldi Effect, in which playing The Four Seasons will make an unborn child about six months along dance in the womb.</off-topic>
posted by daveadams at 1:29 PM on June 27, 2001


The way to tell a song is designed for simple tastes?

One minute before the end, the key goes up a semitone.
posted by wackybrit at 7:35 PM on June 27, 2001


I've more recently heard of the Vivaldi Effect, in which playing The Four Seasons will make an unborn child about six months along dance in the womb.

I'm told Herbie Mann's "Push Push" works for that too. A friend of mine and his wife used it for their firstborn's "theme song," playing it regularly when the kid was in utero. He danced along then, and he apparently still dances around now that he's like three.
posted by kindall at 7:47 PM on June 27, 2001


yes, well, i'm glad the dichotomy of the highly generalized classical and pop has been pointed out here. don't forget that 'classical' and 'pop' are both referring exclusively to types of western music, and, as pointed out, the term classical is highly generalized here.

i love it when assholes who don't understand music think everybody and their mom are listening to shit music, and hide behind 'classical'; more for me and you.
posted by elle at 12:18 AM on June 28, 2001


I'm afraid to imagine what we did to my daughter. When my wife was pregnant with Shelby, she (my daughter) used to rhythmically kick whenever White Zombie was playing. It was so funny that we bought the CD and played it all the time. The shame.
posted by CRS at 6:36 AM on June 28, 2001


i love it when assholes who don't understand music think everybody and their mom are listening to shit music, and hide behind 'classical'; more for me and you.

This doesn't even make sense to me. Is there something in this thread that made you say that?

There is a difference between "art music" and "popular music." But that's not to say there are works of popular music which are greater, both artistically and influentially, than certain works of art music. And of course there's overlap between the two categories. It's more of a continuum, like any other distinction.
posted by daveadams at 10:37 AM on June 28, 2001


aren't, not are. Whatever.
posted by daveadams at 10:38 AM on June 28, 2001


I'm told Herbie Mann's "Push Push" works for that too.

I'm sure that most music, if played loudly enough, works in the same fashion. My youngest was taken to a concert by an unnamed band ten days before his birth, and gets some serious dance on when he hears their music now, but I'm not sure if there's a correlation, or if he just likes to dance to good music. I'd vote for the latter.
posted by Dreama at 11:39 AM on June 28, 2001


daveadams-

the under described study suggests an intrinsic bias toward 'pop'. it reminds me of something i've heard about mice listening to classical music round the clock getting smarter and those listening to rock banging their heads against the wall or something like that. my point is, these guys are probably squares, and their study, and the subsequent story perpretrates this generealization which people who don't care to listen to music, art or commercial, resort to a cliche. the major difference between the classical piece and contemporary piece was clarity of rhythm. but even for classical music you have clarity of rhythm, the clear and simple 'ode to joy' to name one, or even the star wars theme; as opposed to say...ligeti's musica ricercata, ii (as heard in stanley kubric's eyes wide shut.) those mice were probably listening to poison or white snake or some other shit.

this post is so very untimely, now no one will ever read it and i'll just be the hater. damn.
posted by elle at 2:55 AM on June 30, 2001


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