The New and the Familiar

Lisa’s friend sent a link to an NPR “All Things Considered” episode entitled “Does Age Squash Our Spirt of Adventure?“. It was fascinating to listen to this show about how that there seems to be a correspondence between age and our willingness to try new things. The show also brought up some interesting things regarding radio stations and how they look at their audiences in regards to age and taste.

It makes me wonder about myself and how I am approaching new things. I’d like to believe that I’m rather open to new experiences and will to give something a try, whether it’s new music, food, or any experience really. I think it’s healthy to give things a try, even if there’s a chance of a bad experience or failure, and to really try to approach the new experience with an open mind.

I remember when I first started to explore the world of modern art music.  At the time I was very interested with the group of composers that were classified as Minimalists but was starting to get exposed to a lot of the modernists from the earlier to mid part of the 20th century.  When I first listened to composers like Stockhausen, Xenakis, Cage, and many others, I really didn’t know what to make of it.  I didn’t find I had any connection with the music I was listening to, nor any idea why would one create music like that.

When I came to first hear this music I told myself that I would spend time to find out more about it before dismissing it. Afterall, I was new to it and knew very little about that world of music. I wanted to know that my experience of the work wasn’t superficial and that whatever I came to would be based on the pieces merits.
I spent a month, almost every day, going to the library and checking out records and CD’s, listening to a new composer or piece every day, reading the liner notes to discover a mention of a new composer and then try listening to that composer’s work.  I also spent time finding books and interviews with the composer I was listening to, trying to understand what it was they were after in their music. Looking back, I remember many times leaving the library exhausted by what I had heard, not really excited, but still curious. I also think back to it as a very exciting time, to have such a vast musical world to explore.
After a month of doing this I found my taste changed quite a deal.  I found that the initial experiences of listening to modern music  was somewhat of a reaction to something very new to me, something novel to my previous world.  After getting past the novelty of the sounds and really getting into the essence of the music, I realized that I really did find a connection with this world of music.

I was a bit younger then.  These days I am finding myself less involved with seeing what new experiences are out there but more interested in seeing what new experiences are in what I already am familiar with.  It seems to go in cycles though, sometimes with longer periods than others, of exploring things new and then contemplating the familiar with the new familiar from the explorations.

Perhaps then later then the reasons for exploring new things diminishes is that we simply have so much to explore in what is already familiar…


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