Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mixtape of my soul

Before i start writing about what this post is actually about, a small foreword. This is my first post of the year, and also the first post in a year that i aim to publish. Its not that i have lost my zest to write or think about what to write, on the contrary, i have a lot of posts, random and of different subjects, that i have written and saved as drafts, some fully fleshed out, others still just the seeds to greater works. This is more to do with the change in my approach to living, though minute, that has lead me to embrace more brief yet fleetingly passionate avenues of expressing myself.

So finally, to shake off all the dust, i kept wondering what i wanted to first write about. Would it be all the (mostly) negatively tinged material i have built up over the last year or would it be more a random, aimless post to get my writing synapses firing?
Well, i guess what they say is true : When in doubt, stick to what you know. Or rather stick to what drives you as a base emotion. And obviously for me, that is music.

*Foreword done*

Ah Music. I've waxed poetic and eloquently about its aphrodisiac effects as well as spewed forth fire and vitriol defending its addictive quality. Of all the passions in my life, music has to be the one most naturally connected to the center of my being. Everyone has varying interest in music, not to mention the various kinds and types of music. Ranging from the soft to the hard, the simple to the complex, the fluid to the jarring, there is a type of music for nearly every niche of society. In fact, i believe music is as much a watermark for a timeperiod as are science and literature. This post though, is not about music as a whole, or an exploration of its limitless variety and appeal, but rather a much more personal take on music.

Basically, this post answers the question, what type of music do i listen to, how and why. Not as definitive questions, but rather a more retrospective, psychological insight.

As is the case with most unorphaned, unfostered children, my parents were the genesis of my musical foundation. My father was a Beatles fan, with the odd passion for a bit of Queen and a few other golden oldies. My mother was a true late 80's, early 90's pop-rock enthusiast, her favorite band being Guns N Roses and her musical taste ranging from the shared love of Abba with my father to the more voyeuristic tendencies of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper et al.
[Note : I never truly fell in love with the Beatles.
Yup. I said that out loud.
But before you get your mop-top loving, pop-rock quartet worshipping sentiments in a rage, let me explain that.
I do not LOVE the Beatles in the vein of all the zealousness and deification that is given to them by those fans of theirs that claim to truly love them. I actually like them a lot, not to mention i completely respect and honour their place at the pantheon of contemporary music. In fact, i even admit that as a single group, they have been the most influential in the history of popular music. Not only in terms of the actual number of people, because that's just a pop figure, but in terms of the different genres and avenues that they have influenced, in every medium not just the aural.
When i say i do not love the Beatles, i mean that apart from a few songs, i will probably never think to switch to a Beatles song in my playlist manually to listen to it.]

Now, to the reason for the title of this post.

Growing up in the environ i did, the everchanging, non-stable life i had as a kid, the way i listened to music was an amalgamation of my mother's tapes and cds and my dad's old records with the combination of a lot of improvisation. Basically, between my dad, my mom and all the random music that came up on the radio/television/local tamil hits on the megaphones, i never approached music in a traditional albumwise format. Not until i was old enough to understand the phenomenon that was boy-band music (ANY guy who claims not to have been in that phase and grew up in the same period i did is either lying or was never exposed to popular culture) did i buy a tape dedicated to a whole, single musical outfit.

Instead, we had the MIXTAPE.

What is the mixtape, you ask? Well it was the portable, magnetic disk version of a winamp/itunes playlist, only with no automatic song select, much much MUCH smaller song selections and definitely no shuffling. Each tape fit around 7-10 songs per side (depending on the length of the songs) and you had to listen to each song before going to the next. Sure, you could fast forward, but it was irritating and it wasn't exact so you couldn't know whether you forwarded too far or too less. Since we couldn't get professional cassette tapes in the rural areas we initially lived in, my mom had to either make or get made mixtapes which were basically collections of various artists' songs crammed into the tapes. It sounds tedious now, in our fast service centred world, but there was a certain magic to listening to music that way. You learnt to appreciate the chemistry of the songs, the way each song individually affected your mood and how the ordering of the songs wrote your emotions like a writer on an emotional soul searching journey.

I have a Mixtape mentality to listening to music.

As a result of these factors, i learnt to listen to various kinds of music and appreciate their own unique appeal. I learnt that music works in different ways for different people and that even if you think a song isn't that good, whoever made the mixtape valued the songs that you didn't appreciate as much as the ones you did. I learnt to be able to focus my interests in the songs that really captured me, cos only the songs that truly moved me and got my attention were the ones i would actively search out a tape for.

Even now, this still persists. This mentality is why i so know my identity when it comes to me and my music. I use the phrase 'I listen to everything' and i realise everyone else uses it too (except genre nazis and experts of their tastes in music), but i truly mean it when i do, and i don't use it as an excuse or a cop out to not know what my preferred tastes are. For example, i know i like a particular band a lot when i actually take the time to listen to every song of their album. And maybe if that works out well enough, even more of their albums. Just because i like a particular song of a musician doesn't mean i actively seek out the rest of their stuff because i know that musicians have their flavours and one song might have a completely different mood than the others. So i knew i really liked a musician if i had the urge to go through the gruelling and often unrewarding risk of listening to a whole tape of theirs.

People often mistake my broad range of music as either a lackadaisical approach to music or a very widespread net of knowledge. It is neither. It is a mixtape of all my journeys in music, most of which i never really stopped and entered into the cities along the way, but the ones that i did, the ones that i fell in love with, are forever a piece of my soul.

And the one most defining factor of having this mentality i guess is this : I loved the music i did due to my innate love of the music, and not because of the hate of another form of music. So my like or dislike of a song is a completely instinctual thing rather than one defined by a mindset or a genre-specific mentality.

P.s., This is how i know i'm a rocker, a metalhead to a certain degree. Because of all the different genres of music, its these forms that have more often than not, piqued my interest in discovering the discographies of the artists. 

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