Not worth linking to, but go ahead and read this:

Many of you are painfully aware that I am a music composer. Since I hate most musicians, I call my works “noise concertos”.

Musicians have never liked me. I violate all their prissy little rules, I upset their theories, I delight in taboo knob-twiddling. “Don’t touch that dial,” they shriek with shrill, girlish hysteria, as I spin away and turn the music world upside down.

When I go to classical music concerts, I leave after the tuning up of instruments, which to me is the only music that is made during such events.

I suppose this “composer” finds non-musicians to play his compositions. What musician would want to deal with him? Heh.

Then there’s an interview with the poet, Bill Knott (sorry, I’ve never heard of him; I recognized a lot of poets’ names back when it thought I had poet talent, but these days I don’t know anyone, so if he’s got a “name” so much for me, eh?):

I don’t like music; I try to listen to as little of it as possible. Anybody who reads poetry can see the ubiquitous self-doubts poets evince regarding the validity/value of their art. Compare that to the eternally smug self-satisfied attitudes exhibited by the advocates and practitioners of music. They take it for granted that music is the highest art, the universal art, the only art that transcends all borders and babels. They never question that given assumption. The arrogance of composers and musicians is insufferable. They really believe Pater’s dictum that all the other arts are inferior, that all the other arts “aspire towards the condition of music.” But every military that ever marched out to murder rape and destroy was led by what art: were those armies fronted by poets extemporizing verse — by sculptors squeezing clay — by painters wielding brushes — actors posing soliloquies? No, the art that led those killers forth, the art whose urgent strident rhythms stirred and spurred their corresponding bloodlust, was the art to which they felt closest, the art that mirrored their evil egos. That’s why they have always put music up there at the vanguard of their war-ranks, because not only is it the emblem, the fore-thrust insignia of their purpose, it is their purpose: it is the condition to which they aspire.

Yep. That’s me. I just wanna go to war. I wanna play in the front lines. Yes, indeedy. Heck, I carry my own weapons … give me my knives and razor blades! And of course I’m superior. DUH. ;-)

And finally (for now) … from a teacher I assume is quite well-meaning with her music suggestions:

Music for Management – Classical music does focus the mind and stimulate creativity. How do I know? Because I’ve seen it in my room. I often play classical music as students enter the room. It sets a certain tone. Classical guitar music is excellent for testing situations. Students hear it, but don’t notice it much. It helps to isolate them by helping them focus on what’s in front of them. Testing is smoother (less distractions, inappropriate conversations, student movement) when I use this type of music. Gregorian Chant is great for quieting a room – but play it too long and students go to sleep. I used it during nap time with my preschool children! Lively, exciting music is great to wake students up, or to signal a transition from one activity to another.

Music for Instruction – I also use music in history lessons. You can’t teach the Harlem Renaissance (Caged Bird) without jazz, or World War I (nationalism) without Wagner. Justine Philyaw wrote that she uses music and art with her students because “creating a context for students builds motivation as well as strengthens understanding.” When I teach Gandhi, we listen to Indian music while contemplating important quotations. For world exploration, YoYo Ma’s Silk Road Project is perfect. Music in English class reinforces ideas about language. During Beowulf I found some early Celtic music and now I’m playing English Renaissance music for Canterbury Tales. This year we played Carrie Underwood in English 9 to introduce a discussion of revenge, and Johnny Cash for themes of personal journeys. I’ve invited a very creative student to create a soundtrack for her life for a project on autobiographies – her learning style is not word-based. I’ve used musical instruments as transition tools, or for cultural experience, or for teaching the importance of teamwork. When I incorporate music into my lesson it always gives me “bonus points” on my observations. Sometimes students say “Oh no, Mrs. Denney has music again!” But they always listen, because they’re curious. And curiosity is the first step towards learning.

Music for Pleasure – sometimes music is just for enjoyment. During independent work time I’ve played Disney themes, blues, and contemporary music just because it sounds good. Students are invited to contribute music to listen to. But I’m careful about what I play. I have a 40-minute ride each way to school – so I have car time to review a CD lent by a student before using it in class. That also builds a relationship between the student and myself. I also scout the public library’s collection for new material.

Are you nodding your head, agreeing with her or are you bothered? I wonder.

Me? I’m not entirely thrilled, although i appreciate her desire to include music. I don’t mind using music in class. In fact I would encourage it. But while it sounds as if the teacher is encouraging listening in some instances, she’s using music as background in others. I hate background music—to me it implies that the music is unimportant. And for some of us, music can’t be in the background. I’m afraid I’d find it rather difficult to take a test if music was playing … I’d have to block it out. Am I the only one?

Oh probably. Nothing new, yes?

Okay, enough of this silliness. I just ran across these sites and figured I’d share with readers. I’m nice that way.

Or not.


  1. Discussion topic #1: The phrase “girlish hysteria.” Why must criticism be gendered? Is hysteria necessarily female? Would “boyish hysteria” be worse? Or better? What about “mannish hysteria?” Why does the author immediately associate hysteria as a female trait? And why does he assume that “girlish” is a bad thing?

    Discussion topic #2: “Background” music. I hated background music at school, because I wanted to listen. I had a hard time taking the standardized tests in high school because the teacher was playing the Brandenburg Concerti. I wanted to listen, darnit, NOT fill in bubbles. On the other hand, for some kids, “background” music may be the only classical musical exposure they get. While they are entering a classroom, fine. But during a test? Not good, because not everyone concentrates better with music playing. In fact, recent brain activity studies are proving that we can not “multitask.” We simply “task switch.” Some people switch tasks faster than others. But for students for whom music is distracting, this could cause a real hardship in test-taking.

    Discussion topic #3: Music for crowd control. Now this is manipulative. Yes, it’s been manipulative for centuries, I know. Music to summon soldiers to war. Music to stir up nationalistic feelings. Music to evoke a “trancelike” state in the listeners/partiers. Music to evoke an emotional “high” in a worship service. (Ever notice that when church praise songs modulate upward, more hands fly in the air?) Music to create a celebratory or mournful atmosphere. Music to announce the presence of royalty. Heck, the Doctrine of Ethos suggests that music has been used for “extramusical” purposes since the time of the Greeks. And a quick look at Baroque musicians’ belief in the Doctrine of the Affections suggests that musicians have long been aware that music can stir up emotional states within listeners. 

    But should a teacher be using music to control her students? Maybe it’s ok. It sure beats scolding or punishing them. (I like to play music while students are entering my music history classes. When I turn it off, that’s the signal to pay attention to the lecture. So in a way, I’m “using” music for non-musical purposes myself.) And it’s a pleasant way to keep students in line. If pleasing music triggers the brain in a way that puts students in a good mood, what’s the harm in a happy class of kids? But if a student associates chant with naptime, or guitar music with exam, is that appropriate? I’m not convinced.

    Just my two cents (plus inflation). Thanks for posting this topic. Lots of good things to think about.

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    I think writer #1’s use of “girlish hysteria” is much like the rest of his writing; it’s pretty clear he wants to rile folks up. Which is why I just don’t care. The minute someone’s purpose is to upset me like crazy I don’t really want to go there. :-)

    Yeah, background music is a problem for a lot of folks. And for others I wish it WOULD be a problem. Sigh.

    Music can often be manipulative, and I’ve used it myself in that way. I’m sure, in fact, that what and how I play for church can be seen as manipulative; I want to manipulate people into worship, after all. And yes, I’ve seen the “hands thing” although not at my current, very unemotional church! Of course I’ve also been at a church where we were supposed to be lifting hands and the pastor might even make it nearly a demand. Guess whose hands don’t go up?! ;-)

    In any case, it was just interesting that I landed on these particular sites with things that got me thinking. I’m not very good at thinking following Thanksgiving! (Too much food, too little brain power.)

    Even this ramble … hardly makes sense … need to … stop … thinking … more … food!

  3. I frequently wonder where you find these loonies…        

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    Takes one to find one! So there you go … I’m just naturally drawn to loonies because I’m a natural looney! ;-)