Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Listening to Classical Music While Drinking Tea and Eating Scones

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A couple of weeks ago, I stopped listening to the music I have in my computer, and switched to Internet radio. I don’t think there are that many radio stations in Manila worth listening to these days (unless you want to listen to stupid radio), so I initially started listening to Radyo 5 – an FM talk radio station with an AM programming format – but eventually moved to the Master’s Touch (DZFE), a decidedly Christian radio station that played classical music.

dzfe logo

Why, you ask, is Martin listening to what other people would describe as sleep music? Is he slowly going insane? Has he gone off the deep end? Has he lost touch with reality?

The thing with classical music is that it’s great for working. Some people have no trouble listening to rock while trying to write; I’ve been there. I used to work that way. But eventually, I discovered that I needed music that I can tune into the background. Otherwise, I get distracted. I find that it has become easier to distract me, as I got older.

But what about the Christian commentary? I have to admit, it was pretty difficult to go through an entire segment where the WASPy host would prattle on about the fundamental benefits of living a life in Jesus and why are children these days absorbed by social media when the bible’s right there for the reading oh my god. I’m Roman Catholic, and the teachings aren’t fundamentally different from what I personally believe, but these guys are like those charismatic preachers that get on a crowded bus to “spread the good news of the Lord”.

st dominic preacher

Imagine this guy in a crowded bus during rush hour.

Then again, I’m listening to DZFE for the background music. With a little bit of effort, the preaching blends into the background along with the classical music, so I don’t have to worry too much about being indoctrinated into the Protestant faith. If it becomes too unbearable, I can always lower the volume to a drone.

A caveat: classical music is not my go-to music of choice. There are times when I gravitate back to rock and progressive. Or, whenever I’m feeling upbeat, some decent r&b. But I find that I can’t work while listening to the songs I have with me, since all it takes is a great progression to snap me out of work and into a trancelike state, absorbing all the notes as they, well progress. In other words, normal music has become a distraction.

But the classics are always easy on the ears. What virtuosity is involved in any classical song is softly filtered by the fact that it isn’t something I can play on the fly. I don’t have to worry about obsessing about the progression from act 1 to act 2 of the Marriage of Figaro, for example, since it isn’t something that I’m supposed to understand. And that alone is enough to make me gratefully indifferent to the skills of the musicians, and able to focus on the document currently in front of me.

And that is why I have started listening to the classics. Because I’m just an average guy trying to get his work done.

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