False Memories – False Music – False Facsism

False memories of music start to playback in my mind after I’ve been working on a particular piece of music for a long time. After hearing it over and over again, it starts to sound slow, monotonous, square…retarted, even. It’s as if I’m hearing my favourite song on a walkman with dying batteries as while starting to fade into unconsciousness during a bad acid trip. (And no, I’ve never actually had this exact experience. Have you?)

Until last night I simply interpreted these false music memories as a warning sign to move on and find new music to enjoy. However, last night as I stood in the shower waiting the full five minutes recommended by the Body Shop for their hair treatment to take effect on my unruly curls, a different realisation appeared a few centimetres below somewhere inside my cerebrum. What if this were more than a warning, but an defence mechanism against brainwashing? In other words, the false music memories are actually false music rendered harmless by heuristic antibodies.

What I am really trying to say with those $100/hour words is  simply that I am in the habit of being wary of the difference between music that is familiar and that I genuinely enjoy. I savour the latter so much that I avoid repeated listening to preserve the magic of music I love, like Stevie Wonder’s Innervsions album. Unfortunately, an occupational hazard of being a musician is the having to listen and/or perform a piece a sickening amount of times for the sake of transcription and study. This is exactly what I was doing before last night’s shower and hair treatment.

What I think my mind is really doing, is isolating the emotional content from the more tangible linguistic and academic elements. Even a jingle made for soda commercial has some emotional content which makes it appealing to the listener. However that comes from the creator’s love for their work, rather than the the contractor’s love of sugar-water profits. Once I asked a  session musician friend how he could tolerate having to play terrible music devoid of any integrity?

His answer was that his sincere performance as a musician would gives it the integrity missing in the concept, if only just a little bit. So while the performance contains sincere emotional content, the actually message in the musical concept is something entirely different. Obviously, in the case of a soda jingle, the message is, “Buy THIS soda!” Repeating this message as often as possible is a crude attempt at mind control. Hence, my mind is rejecting the music because of the intrusive nature of the message, and process is to strip the message of emotional power of the music. That’s why I seldom drink soda pop, and then only Pepsi. (Better taste, better logo, better commercials.)

I’ve always been paranoid about some cabal of DJs and record producers crafting the music they think everyone should like, and then conspiring to saturate the media with it until enough people buy it to recover their investment. As a fiercely individualistic individual who rarely tolerates sameness, it makes sense that my mind would have defences against similar attempts at such behaviour programming by the free market, government, school or even my own workplace. It’s so extreme that I even question whether this compulsive rejection itself is not the effect of some liberal education I’ve received from watching so much PBS.

Case-in-point, the tune I was working on last night was an arrangement of the old pinball number count from Sesame Street for my band. The objective of this song’s non-musical content is teaching kids (like mine) to count to twelve. After hearing it maybe hundreds of times in my life; first on channel 13 as a kid, then on Youtube, my iPod, my sheet music software’s GM sounds, and played on my own guitar/bass; my own version of the song in progress my old TiPBG4 has passed the repetition threshold. My mind’s response is to conjure Patrick Stewart, commanding, “Halt! Come ye no further! You’re educational message shall not penetrate the sacred inner sanctum of Adam’s mind!”

Captain Picard then sets phasers to stun and bathes the mnemonic sound analogues in pure energy, rendering them an impotent stream of integers. This time, the reaction is in error, though. I can already count to twelve. I embrace the message of educational content,  and this song has already penetrated the inner sanctum (the soul) long ago…aeons ago…from the beginning of time even because music is timeless. The music that moves us is merely a code releasing something trapped inside us that has existed from the beginning of creation so it can reconnect with its source. Every time I hear this song, and think about the people who made it (including the creators of Sesame Street who contracted them), I marvel at the creativity. The results of their efforts probably totally surpassed everyone’s expectations for what was supposed to be a little ditty for teaching kids to count.




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