Thursday, July 20, 2006

Wherein Love of Music?

My grandmother tells me that when I was barely a year old, to get me to settle down for a nap, she would play an LP of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Apparently I would lay there quietly with my eyes closed - asleep, by all appearances - but as soon as the record would end my eyes would open and I'd point at the record player and grunt until she would start it up again. Beethoven has always been my favorite composer - and the Ninth, to this day, remains awe-inspiring.

When I was eight I heard Pink Floyd's On The Run. From the instant I heard it I was fascinated. I've been a Floyd fan ever since, though I was disappointed to discover that not all of their stuff sounded like that. I was fated to wait several more years, yet, before the premier of Risky Business. I still vividly remember the moment when, during the opening credits of the film, the words "Music Composed and Performed By Tangerine Dream" appeared on the screen. I thought to myself, "That's an interesting name..." - and then the music started! At the time I was a big fan of Devo, Yaz, and Thomas Dolby, but I realized then and there that subconsciously I had been waiting for music like this all my life! I became obessessed with finding everything I could by Tangerine Dream. Thinking about it, now, it's kind of hard to imagine a time before Google, when looking up a band's discography was actually somewhat difficult and usually involved physically visiting a library and using a card catalog!

All of this, I think, gives strong evidence for a genetic origin to the enjoyment of music. This is no surprise, really, given recent research with twins (among other things, like the fact that my cats don't crowd around the speakers when a good song is on). On the other hand, I find it strange that both my father and my grandfather are profoundly unmoved by music. They could literally never listen to a strain of music again and feel none the worse for it. Such a sentiment is completely alien to me.

My mother enjoys music, but mainly as a performer, and she seems to have no quality control (sorry mom! :-) ). Maybe, like eye color or male pattern baldness, that's all that's required for a genetic origin, but I doubt we could call it definitive.

It would seem the nature/nurture debate must rage on.


steve said...

This is a good question and subject for debate indeed. I know people who are profoundly moved by art but have no true interest or taste in music for that matter. It has always baffled me how you could be one and not the other when both eyes and ears are working.

My mom said that when I was in the womb she did lots of typing as a medical transcriptionist and claims that my taste in more "noisy". beat-driven stuff is a result of all that typing while I was in the womb. We joke about it and it sounds kind of silly, but who knows?

Sally said...

Yes, I know, I am stuck in the 60's.

Your Mom!!!

steve said...

The sixties had some good stuff too!