To understand rather than love

I feel like the most heartfelt posts that I ever wrote about music and its nature to me were several years before now. At the time, i described in detail, the experience of being useless as a musician in a world that needs so much. The experience of fitting not really on stage and not really in a temple. Feeling like a quintessential home performer only. Now I am writing from a world that has changed mercurially in a matter of weeks like a bipolar goddess.

For a while now, a bulk of what I write about music goes into “science” instead, into my own PhD dissertation, and the quest of truly – trying to understand rather than love. The thing is – when you try to avoid being in love with music, listening itself becomes so much simpler. A dance party becomes a participatory theatre, a listen-along can become a social activity, and an antakshari trip is but pure nostalgia. None of these experiences are like trying to get inside a song, and internalizing it – an activity i spent most of my childhood on.

At the cost of not engaging, we can listen to a lot. Just trying to think of who made this music, under what conditions, and what was being appreciated. We can listen to our own nostalgia thinking about the time, and the nostalgia itself. We can think about the ideas of the music – as both getting older, as well as academic research – are often about. We can listen to societies, and music-cultures. We can listen to histories – and lives, without ever taking them in. We can listen to ‘authenticity’ of voice, and ‘irony’. We can listen to ‘production’.

To detach, compartmentalize, check-out, doesn’t really come at an immediate cost to the self. Instead, truly entering something with your heart does. And in so far as one never wants to, it is possible to live with a heartless, clumsy joy.

The few moments that are spent with music without cynicism – have to be the moments spent in the world and not about the world. The world is not intimately accessible to detached adults at all times, or at least not without making an effort to making it intimately accessible. And in so far as that is still possible, I am going to make an effort to not forget about this.

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