After years of listening to NPR advertise for Bang on a Can, I finally attended with my Kiwi friend Chris.
We both left our more tonally inclined spouses to catch Bassist Henry Grimes performing with drummer Andrew Cyrille.
I really enjoyed this performance and I will tell you why:
- The exhilaration of the performers improvisation gave an immediacy and energy to the piece that transfered over to the crowd.
- I could just let my ears relax and listen, without looking for some overarching meaning
- My ears and eyes were rewarded by new sounds and techniques that I had never seen or heard before.
My feeling about atonal music is that it breaks you from the sort of generic listening pattern, and forces you to listen afresh and new. It sort of stops out your conscious mind from categorizing and rationalizing what your sensory organs are absorbing.
So What happens next? Does this music become a pattern in your ear from which you need to be reawakened, or can you go back to listening to more traditionally melodic music. Is this music an end in itself, or a tool? I don't know, but I find it exciting, in a visceral way, like my ears don't know what to expect next. I also feel liberated from having to focus on each individual note, I can just ride on the flow of the piece and see where it goes.