Clinical Music thought

Hi all, and welcome to clinical music thought…

Through this R-Unit I aim for all participants, including myself, to gain a deeper understanding of how we approach and listen to music from a clinical perspective. We will be using the blog as a format in which to present arguments/discussion and findings regarding us as individuals and our approach to music. Your engagement with this R-Unit will be measured through forum hours at college and through participation online through posting comments/thoughts and reflections, as well as sharing any resources of interest you may come across in your studies.

So, to begin with, I want you to all consider the following ideas;

  • What I value about music
  • Current social trends surrounding music
  • Music as art

To give you some prompts to stimulate thought and discussion around these topics, I have provided some readings below which examine social ideals and trendsregarding the music industry;

Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,” he added. ”So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left.

(“David Bowie, 21st-Century Entrepreneur” New York Times -JON PARELES – Published: June 9, 2002.

“The Internet has truly transformed music distribution and just like just like water or electricity, it does seem that music is becoming a commodity. Yet under the sustained and multi-faceted pressure of; global economic and population growth, climate change and resource depletion – water and electricity are becoming more expensive, more valuable and more differentiated in quality. Meaning – some power is clean and green some is as dirty as brown coal. By contrast, music is being devalued and becoming more like a commodity and less like the valuable cultural artefact we know it to be. So yes, Bowie was right is saying music would be like running water, but did he  envisage that water would become more expensive and more profitable than music?”  (, 2011)

 “When an artist focuses too much on the “stuff” or marketing and not on the “stuff” of music, they can lose their way”. (, 2011)

“The guys over at Apple, Inc. evidently know their music theory. Their latest version of GarageBand lets you play with “Smart Instruments” that “make you sound like an expert musician… even if you’ve never player a note before.” (

This link in general –


If you could all comment or add a post onto the blog discussing your thoughts to my original three questions, that would be great. This will give us a springboard in which to launch into further discussion. I will also be crating a post around my responses to those three questions.




4 thoughts on “Clinical Music thought”

  1. As an initial commentary on the Current Social Trends of Music, I’d like to make note of a common opinion about modern music compared to what non-musical people seem to deem as “classical music”. I’m not trying to be a Purist snob, but a substantial volume of people refer to all works; Romantic, Classical, Baroque, Impressionist and so on, as “Classical” music. An annoying but irrelevant misconception in theory, but in reality, at the very root of the issue I’m building to here (but as a side note, it’s interesting that nobody cares about the designation of musical eras and the works that belong to them, yet people would think you were an idiot if you said Cleopatra lived in the Stone Age…). It’s not name-calling and classification that has me confused though. It’s the lack of interest in music that has survived, up to this point in time, anywhere between 100 to 400 years. This lack of interest is what I might definitely call a social trend, popular with the majority of young music listeners, and the root of this problem I might hypothesize to be misunderstanding, but I can’t be clear on why? As an example , a comment I get a lot when I confront people about dismissing Romantic or Classical music is that it’s “too boring”. Or they “just get bored”. I’m dumbfounded when I hear this comment. Boring? Especially when what they’re listening to I know for sure was churned out by some pop star instructing me in a robotic voice to “get on da floor”, whose only apparent talent is to make lots of money and poor choices at the same time. Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata contains about 8 different chord changes within the songs initial 15 seconds. How is that less cognitively and emotionally stimulating than 4 different chord changes for three and a half minutes? To me, the non-musical equivalent of this would be opting for the credits rather than the movie. People seem to seek instant gratification in the present day. Music and literature are very similar in this sense. People want to see events unfold before them (movies) rather than think about the events unfolding (books). They want to feel something quickly, and not have to think about it afterwards (don’t get me wrong, I still love movies). Emotion is still gathered I suppose, but to a greater depth? Doubtful. Books and symphonies are being replaced with movies and pop songs because people seem to be addicted to ‘fast food’ emotions and thoughts. I think this is a problem because I believe art is supposed to encourage thinking rather than constrict it.

    1. I couldn’t agree more-
      The defining of all non rock, jazz, pop, funk etc. music as classical music is one of my greatest pet hates. It really just shows a complete disinterest and unwillingness to become literate in musical terminology, and yet these people still claim to be musicians or a music lovers.
      The problem is people are becoming more lazy as time goes on, with the trend of a more digitally generated sound, it is becoming increasingly easy to create “music” (even though a musician is defined as somebody who plays a musical instrument). With this trend it means just about anyone can turn on their computer and put together sounds and claim it to be “music” without any prior theoretical knowledge of how music is written. Because anyone can create these sounds, it gives no incentive to actually go and learn the theory backing what is actually going on in the music.
      Now onto the complexity of music-
      I find it incredibly fascinating, as you do, that people can interpret such music as Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata as “boring”. Again I think it comes back to the unwillingness to think deeply about what is really going on and how the music is being changed. It is also interesting that after being so overly saturated with simple music, eg. any four chords progression, that people can actually say that the complexity of Beethoven is in any way boring.
      Current music, especially pop music, is incredibly menial with most songs being about a devastating breakup then a make up, or one of the worst ones I have seen, Justin Bieber’s ” Confident”, which is literally 6 minutes of him whining about how a girl actually has enough self confidence to stay away from the loser, then after chasing her through an alleyway she finally gives in.
      This song has no real meaning that can be taken out of it, it is in no sense of the word art, it is purely a commodity designed to make money for the artist and the music label.
      To finish I want to mention how it angers me to see people who have trained in music composition, know all the theory and have done all the hard work to achieve the ability to write good music, can so easily be pushed aside, and the untalented, lazy, egotistical, arrogant and musically illiterate can make a living off of the noise that they create.

  2. Firstly I want to say, the two people who commented previously have really valid points.
    I totally agree with what you have said so far about classical music and the lack of appreciation that the 21st century has for classical music in its intricate, detailed form. To be honest I myself am not really into classical music and don’t have enough patience for it, but I do believe that this is partly due to the fact that I have grown up in a society of instant music. This is actually what I wanted to talk about, something that was said in the first post (by caljfe96) is what really got me thinking.
    He/ she said, ‘People seem to seek instant gratification in the present day. Music and literature are very similar in this sense.’
    People today need to be instantly emotionally engaged in a piece of music. If a song doesn’t hit the listener straight away as something they can relate to, then it is quite likely that the listener will tune out. The general public needs a piece of music that will show its emotion in the first verse; that is one of the traits that set classic music and pop culture music apart. Classical music is so diverse and changes multiple times just within one song, it doesn’t always stick to one emotion or theme either. In classical music there is a lot of room for the listeners imagination to run wild, it doesn’t tell you what to feel and a lot is left up to personal preference. As a result, listening to classical music actually takes more effort and concentration – and that I believe is one of the reasons that the 21st century has moved away from classical music. We are an instant generation, so having to listen carefully to a piece of music and figure out what is trying to say for our self, really doesn’t appeal to most people. This is where lyrics come in, where as in classical music we used to have to find out what the composer was trying to convey ourselves, now we actually have the artist telling us what to feel. Lyrics is what gives a song an instant source of reliability, you can determine in the first verse or two whether the song has any relevance to you. With most pop culture songs today you only have to listen to the opening and you already have the general theme of the song.
    Now in no way am I saying that lyrics are a bad thing! I love lyrics, I believe that they are a beautiful way for an artist to be able to express themselves. The way that song writers are able to tie music with words and make them flow so gracefully together is really admirable, some lyrics just by themselves give me the shivers!

  3. Before I begin, I want to say that all of your opinions are brilliant. I especially agree with what Indi_Bindi had posted about our connection between our current situations and the music we listen to. I also agree with Conner R and find it particularly disappointing that musicians these days could just make up a song either silly, rude or a waste of time and get famous from it while the musicians in the past are called “boring.” Some people told me that music before the 1980s was a “yawn” and when I asked them what songs they had listen to before that time, they answered “none.”

    Not everybody I had this this conversation with had the same answer. Some people mentioned that they got “hooked” onto modern music because their friends wanted them to. Many people complained that they fell asleep while listening to music in the eras before Post “Great War” so they continued with our modern music. A small amount of people completely ignored music before the Post “Great War” and had used modern music to make a statement to their families and friends. Sure all of these make great stories but it breaks the purpose of the music.

    I also dislike it when people refer to any era before Post “Great War” as “Classical” or “really old.” I am not the type to correct a person for specific terms but it just demonstrates how our modern society lacks in respect for the music. I find it quite interesting because you hear people say (not be be eavesdropping of cause) “Oh, that music was awesome.” I am not saying that they have to be “world class musicians” to have an opinion on music but it just gets me curious about what they liked about the song besides demonstrating a good choreography that so happened to be life risking or getting the music up so loud that it almost broke some speakers.

    The most humorous parts of these conversations is that we do not actually talk about musicology in our modern music. We talk about everything else besides the elements within the songs. For example: when people think of a tango, some immediately think of a dance. This is perfectly fine but it does not describe the actual elements in the music. Sometimes we rely on the lyrics to describe what the point is in the song but even that could not make sense. Despite my diminutive issues with modern music, I ask “why do the majority of people have no respect for music that eventually became the music that they listen to now?” I can understand that people do not want to listen to what their grandparents thought was “cool” back in the day, but to completely ignore it and pretend it never happened is….scrupulous.

    I completely agree what Connor R and calife96 had posted about our society being dismissive towards musical instruments. I believe that synthesises are no substitute for an actual musical instrument. There is no technique in using technology for creating music. (Especially in today’s modern music where the music and the artist/s has nothing to do with technique). Not everybody in the whole entire world can play particular instruments absolutely perfectly. Synthesises can provide some sort of fulfilment to perfection but I could never count it as an art. In my opinion, art in music could be read to make a sound (composition) or is a sound that somebody has made with their own diaphragm, voice or/ and hands. A computer is simply something a machine had made that humans could manipulate.

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