Zia Hassan

The Only Time I Hate Music

+++ title = “04” date = 2019 +++

About a decade ago, I posed the question to my Facebook feed: do you know anyone who actively dislikes music?

No one responded. At least no one responded with evidence of someone that actively dislikes music. Sure, there were some who disliked some forms of music but no one seems to just dislike it altogether. Even religious sects that think music is evil seem to form their beliefs tribally, in the same way that eating pork is a sin to a Muslim but they don’t, as a culture, dislike its taste necessarily.

When I start to pontificate about why music is so universal, I always come back to how music as a communication tool is not much different from language. After all, speech has melody to it, and an improvised one at that. We speak in a variety of tones when we communicate, and we use those tones strategically to persuade. We speak in rhythm too, a lot of the time, and when we don’t it becomes hard to follow thoughts.

Those short clear sentences your English teacher talked about in Hemmingway embodied a natural rhythm. I only wish my literature teachers has connected the idea of prose to musicality.

But, come to think of it, there is a situation that occurs when I dislike music. It’s not a particular type of music, and in fact it may not even count as actual music.

It’s the residue of music. That is to say, when the frequencies are isolated. It happens when the neighbor is blasting loud techno at 3am, and all you can hear in your apartment is the thump thump of the bass. Or if a car drives by and you hear the bass line of some reggae. To me, it feels like I’m being tapped on the shoulder repeatedly.

I also won’t like music when it appears unsolicited. I’m not talking about overhearing a concert in the distance as you walk along the beach. I mean, when you’re sitting in your backyard listening to birdsong and a nearby neighbor starts blasting Bach. It’s music out of context, and for me, music tends to serve a purpose. If I wasn’t expecting it, and if the context isn’t right, I usually don’t enjoy it. Even if it’s a genre or type of music I like.

But those are rare occasions. For the most part, music remains essential to my life and is functional in many ways, that I’ll talk about in a later post.

It’s the residue from other people’s music consumption that I try to avoid.