Christmas music

December 28, 2010

In the morning I often remember the dreams that I had just before I woke up. The dreams are most times surreal and illogical and combine notions and pictures that I never would combine and bring into context and make a story out of it while I’m awake. My sleeping brain is very creative!

Sometimes I wake up and then I decide to sleep a little bit longer and I drift into a state between sleep and waking and my dreams go on and advance from the dreams that I had before with the main difference that they are now not as surreal as my usual dreams and I can to some extend control the direction in which they meliorate.

This morning I had a nightmare about military brass bands marching around the house and playing constantly awful stupid music. This was a nightmare for me because first I don’t like anything connected to military culture and to weapons and violence and second I don’t like stupid music.

I never listen to radio and I don’t look TV and avoid shopping malls and stores or restaurants and coffee shops and other locations where background music is blaring from loudspeakers. My music school pupils occasionally ask me to listen to the latest pop hits on their iPods and to teach them the chords on the guitar or on the keyboard. Normally I can figure out they harmonies after listening to the tune one or two times. The chord progressions are most times very simple and therefore useful exercises for beginners.

Usually I forget this pop tunes immediately and as the lessons go on and I work with the pupils on other music the memories are wiped out completely. None of this pop hits has the chance to stick and become an ear worm. If I ever would suffer from something like an ear worm or a cognitive itch I would listen to Bach’s “Dorian Toccata and Fugue” or to his Cello Suites or to Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” or to piano music of Randy Weston and Abdullah Ibrahim until the ear worm is eradicated from my mind.

I don’t deem all pop music as stupid and some of the tunes that my pupils bring me have an interesting twist and other tunes are an authentic and informative reflection of the “zeitgeist”. But the music that I heard in my dreams this morning had no interesting twist and was not informative, it was plain and ugly and annoyingly stupid.

When I finally woke up I realized, that the music had not been constructed in my mind and the dream was not caused by some long forgotten traumatic experience concealed in my subconsciousness but that the music was actually happening right in front of the house. It was not played by a military brass band but by a few renegade members of the local brass band who every year between Christmas and New Year’s Eve go from house to house and play short tunes expecting the inhabitants to come out and give them tips. Most people indeed come out and give some donations hoping that the buskers then will go away and bother the next family along the street.

Nobody came out from our house and the buskers realized, that their efforts were in vain and went on after playing one last tune.

The music pieces that they played were all in three quarter time with the snare drum playing accents on the second and third beat (um – ta – ta), and the tuba playing an alternating bass using only fundamental and quint. The chord progression was one bar tonic two bars dominant one bar tonic and the whole thing repeated.

These vagabonding buskers are tolerated because their venture is deemed to be a tradition, while gipsies who are begging door to door are reviled. I prefer the gipsies, they are at least quiet.

The Christmas season always reminds me of the inconsistencies and contradictions of our modern life. Christmas is a weird mix of pagan rituals (Saturnalia, Yule), the nativity myth and consumerism. I don’t give presents anymore and I don’t like to get presents, I told everybody to spare the money, presents are not appreciated. Christmas could be at least a time of peace and quiet reflection, a retreat from this hectic life and a period of silence. But that is not happening, people seem not be able to live without noise. The shops are full of firecrackers and fireworks and the first explosions are already heard. They will get louder and more frequent by the hour and culminate at New Year’s Eve, when this normally quiet and sleepy place will erupt into violence and the world outside my four walls will change into a war zone.

Hopefully only in the acoustic sphere…

All my cats will gather in my bed room and I will try to calm them down and I will assure them, that the house still will exist tomorrow and not be a burned down ruin and that there is enough food for them and we probably will survive the carnage unharmed or at least without serious injuries.

I wonder, why people do this. What is going on in the brains of this folks to make them like the sound of explosions? Why do they like to annoy other people with their noise? If they like explosions why don’t they all gather at a firing range far away from populated areas where they can do whatever they want to do? If they like explosions why don’t they buy a ticket and make a holiday vacation to a real war zone like Afghanistan with firefights and bombs falling and missiles and mortars going off all the time. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate fun?

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.
Albert Einstein

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