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Davis, California

Monday, May 27, 2024

Tunespoon: Me against the music

I appreciate my time writing these little columns, and I’m happy to say that Tunespoon is finished. I just have some things left to address.

You like what you like. No one can change that. Be proud of it. Own it. Music is meant to be yours to love. Sing it in the shower, hum it on the bus. Tap the rhythm on your lap like it is meant for all of us. Learn what you can about music, maybe even study it night and day as if it were a science. But never forget that music is made to be listened to and loved. If you don’t love it, you’re doing it wrong.

Respect the music. If there’s something that you do not like, then change it to something else. Don’t be fallacious, either. It’s obvious that Nicki Minaj isn’t Bach, or that One Direction isn’t The Beach Boys; those are facts. But to place value for one over another is absurd. The social contexts are different, the genres are different, the intended audiences are different, but most importantly, and most basically: the artists are different. To say that one genre of music should be eradicated from the aural universe (I’ve heard that terrible saying, “Music is like candy, just throw away the wrappers”) would invalidate the experiences of people who voice themselves through music. Not all music is for everyone. Acknowledge that, and shake it off.

Don’t be afraid of the music. Tackle it head-on. Sometimes it’s a thrill to be confused (where else is that applicable?). Elliott Carter’s Cello Concerto is an abstract atonal whirlwind — it’s absolutely overwhelming, and a little frightening to listen to. Grouper’s mournful piano pop sometimes makes me want to scream, and it’s not always a welcome feeling. Jenny Hval’s explicit art-rock is bracing and uncomfortable. Seek out new musical experiences. Trust and embrace your every reaction because your emotions validate you as a human being.

Let the music move you. Dance. Like no one is watching. Dance like someone is watching. Just do it. It feels good. Don’t be afraid — people will be jealous of your lack of inhibition. Music can also move you emotionally. It’s magical, it’s unbelievable. Sometimes it’s uncalled for. That’s the beauty of artful sound. It can change you. It can motivate you. It can keep you going, or help you stop and think about the world.

Let music be your voice. Like Perfume Genius denouncing gay panic, strutting the ever-thinning line of gender-binary. Like Miley Cyrus, announcing to the world that, hey, I’m a different person, and forget what you know about me. Like Lauryn Hill writing “Black Rage” in solidarity with Ferguson, or Martin Luther King, Jr. composing “We Will Overcome” for the ’60s civil rights storm. Write, sing, hum, play. It’s all music, it’s all yours.

When I close my eyes everything stops existing. Except the sound. Of the marching band warming up. Of my roommate singing Sam Smith to himself. Of co-ed a cappella harmonizing off in the distance. Of a lone trumpet repeating a single passage to perfection. Of someone whistling a song they don’t know the name of. Of someone rehearsing a piece of repertoire they can’t ever forget.

Music is my heartbeat. It’s in my walk. It’s in the words I speak.

I am music, and so are you.

Please don’t stop the music with STEVEN ILAGAN (smilagan@ucdavis.edu).

Graphic by Andrew Li



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