Ears Deafened by Musical Prejudice

I was travelling on an intercity bus one time. A young woman sitting across from me noticed I had a few CDs with me and, tired of her own, asked if she could borrow one. I handed one to her which I especially liked. She looked at it and commented that she had never heard of the artist. “It’s really good,” I reassured her. She refused to listen to it because the artist had never been played on mainstream radio and asked for something “normal”. I complied and handed her some.

A couple years later, in a similar situation, I handed the stranger a CD from a popular singer. He became somewhat hostile. “When I ask for music, I want real music, not that popular Top 40 crap!” I handed the rebel the most obscure stuff I had on me.

Both instances mentioned above reveal that there are folks out there who are so weak that they allow their musical tastes to be dictated by prejudice. They are not judging the music for itself but deem all music good or bad based on whether it is popular or indie. Notice that there are a number of blogs out there listing the “best” Canadian albums of the year, and what they call “best” are actually albums from the most obscure artists in the country. (Some of them may throw in one or two more well-known artists to give their lists some credibility.) This is among the stuff white people like.

Prejudice can take on other dimensions as well. Some will refuse to listen to anything featuring instruments that need to be plugged in, preferring squeaky acoustic guitars with perhaps a squeaky violin thrown in for a squeaky clean sound. Of course, ignorance prevents them from realizing that they are listening to these unplugged instruments on a plugged radio / turntable / MP3 device / CD player, the speakers of which are synthetically reproducing the sound made previously in the recording studio. The opposite prejudice exists as well, though seemingly not as common.

Another form of prejudice revolves around the recording artists themselves. Some will resist liking the music of a particular artist because of his age—whether he is under 21 or over 51. Others will listen only to male singers or to female singers.

It must be a sorry state of being when one doesn’t allow himself the freedom to listen to anything, oppressing his tympanic membranes with so many restrictive regulations.

Ladies and gentlemen, let us call ourselves on these, let go of them, and judge the music for itself rather than kowtowing to these narrow, shallow, and deafened proclivities. What makes a piece of music enjoyable has nothing to do with how popular or obscure it is, how the different musical sounds are made, or the age or gender of the performer(s). When we look at a beautiful painting, do we care about the age and gender of the painter, what type of instruments he used, or how many other people are familiar with or like it? Certainly not.


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