"So did you listen to it? What did you think?", I asked as the girl from marketing returned my Slow Riot for New Zero Canada CD. A couple days earlier she asked what sort of music I was into and I lazily decided to just hand her the CD I was currently listening to instead of attempting to explain.

"Yeah... you know, I think it makes great background music. I listened to it last night while I did the dishes," she said as I cringed at her words.

Background music? To say Godspeed's music would be great background music is like saying you think a fine painting is pretty neat and all, but instead of being displayed in a gallery it would be better as wallpaper. How insulting to the artist is that?

Music doesn't exists to fill the silence in your vapid suburban paradise while you wash your dishes. It's art. People pour their hearts and souls into creating music. Take a minute to sit and appreciate it.

"And there's some weird talking on track 2," she added. "What is that all about?"

Maybe you should try listening.

"I sneer at... people who sneer at entertainment for entertainment's sake. It must be uncomfortable riding that high horse, especially with that stick up your butt."

Stephen King

Music is for listening, but not in the ostentatious sense Lost and Found means it.

"Music doesn't exists to fill the silence in your vapid suburban paradise while you wash your dishes," he says, in a diatribe typical of musical snobbery.

Well why the hell not?

Sure, some music has a message the artist feels is important. Sure, some people feel the need to interpret the message, and there's no problem with that.

On the other hand, there are many who aren't interested in the message behind the music. To someone else, maybe it's something to dance to, maybe it's just a catchy rhythm, maybe it's (God forbid!) background music at a party or during chores.

There's no "right" way to enjoy a song. Each way is equally legitimate. Who are you—who am I, who is anyone— to say how to listen to music? If music isn't enjoyable, why even listen?

Further, plenty of music doesn't have anything important to say. Eurobeat songs generally follow a basic plot, but don't have any important commentary. Do "Be My Lover" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart" really have anything important to say? No, they just have a pleasing melody. Similarly, though I can understand very few words in Japanese songs, I enjoy the singing and the instruments—the talent. Any idiot can espouse a message, but that's not what makes music so special.

Music means something different to everyone, and ultimately I'm going to have to reject the serious "it has to have a message to be valid" philosophy. Message or not, whenever I hear a good synthesizer beat a big, stupid grin crosses my face.

I think that different music can be appreciated in different ways. Some music is most definitely artistic. You don't have to sit down and listen to it, and it's not a crime to listen to it while working or doing something else, but if you do take the time to sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and contemplate nothing but your audio stimuli, then it will be time very well spent. A few examples of music that I think fits into this category:

Each of these is arguably a complex masterpiece deserving of your full attention at least once in your life.

Conversely, there are also valid pieces of music that are designed to be a part of the room rather than compete for your full attention. They used to be called furniture music but are now more commonly known as ambient music. They are perfect for adding mood to a scene rather than trying to take center stage. Such music includes:

While you may or may not glean anything from sitting down and listening to such music, it can really add to the atmosphere of a bath or massage, for instance.

These are just two extremes of music, and of course you can listen to either type of music while doing something else or while giving it your full, undivided attention. My point is that different music is designed to be listened to in different ways. There's no right or wrong way to listen to a piece of music, and especially to listen to music in general.

The previous writeups here discuss the difference between ambient music and complex works necessitating full attention. In that respect, I'm going to be going off on a little tangent here.

There's a lot of fun to be had in listening to music. I don't disagree. It's art, and I've had great emotions pricked in me often by what's stimulating my stirrups.

That said, there's a lot of enjoyment and fun in music beyond sitting in front of the stereo and letting it bowl you over. It's part of our shared culture, and in addition to the hours racked up listening, there's those times where you play it as a sonic backdrop while you work or to lure others into social interactions, lend it out, spread it around, pick up on references, try to figure out interconnections ("hey, skip back a few seconds...I'd swear I just heard Emerson play something like the Star Wars theme...no, really..."), categorise people to put them in boxes, and best of all, argue about it.

I think that's the greatest thing about music. Like literature or film, it's not just about how it affects you, but others. You can use it as a handy Rorscach test to look into others. And you can spend days informally discussing it with friends, or anyone who'll listen. It's handy like that. A lot of people invest their egos in the music they listen to, making it all the more fun to discuss it and get heated up. There's no better feeling than justifying the music you listen to. On the flip side, it's wonderful to be able to hold your music out as a fuck off signal.

I think music is for sharing.

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