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SUBJECT: Why is it?! Back to Subjects
Mike S.
May 24 2014
at 5:46 AM
I am a high school math teacher and I have PM RADIO playing in my classroom all day and when other teachers come in they ask why I am making my students listen to that "elevator music"!!! WHY don’t people understand what is musically happening?!?! Especially with Pat’s old and new Group music?!?!?! I admit that the speakers on the interactive white board suck and that I do have the volume quite low so it is difficult to hear the intricacies but you would think they could hear the difference STILL! Can someone please explain how ANYONE can make such an inference?
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Mike S.
Jul 17 2014
at 6:26 AM
Bookmark and Share foper, I agree with your analysis of listeners! Those that are critical of Pat’s playing in my classroom are looking for something catchy or something to which they can dance! Or perhaps something that does not require their full attention that can just be white noise. I have always preferred what you called No. 2 listeners. That is why PMG and Frank Zappa have always topped my list for listening pleasure! I must add that one day while I had my door open to the next classroom, where students were taking an algebra test, I suddenly noticed PMG music coming from there! I rushed in to see what the teacher was doing and she told me the students requested that she play some PMG while they worked on their assessment!!!!! I was SO proud!!!!
Jul 15 2014
at 1:56 PM
Bookmark and Share I would say that it’s a teacher’s calling to expand their students’ minds, and what better way to do it? Playing pop music isn’t expanding their minds - they’d listen to that on their own.
Jun 29 2014
at 2:46 PM
Bookmark and Share really its probably ignorance of such great music Each too is own but we know Pats such a great talent on this earth.
Jun 22 2014
at 2:10 PM
Bookmark and Share Responding to the original post. I would say that people, especially non-musicians, tend to think that volume, tempo and stance equals energy and substance. I would say that they are not listening closely. They would probably respond in the same way to say something like "In A Silent Way" or even Bill Evans. The general public also tends to react to vocal music and so called "edgy" lyrics, even if it just reiterating the same adolescent rebellion that has occurred in many popular music style generation after generation. My response would be "you should listen more closely. I would also advise them to take a close listen to their "edgy" music at a low volume and see if there really is as much to listen to.
Jun 20 2014
at 1:26 AM
Bookmark and Share foper, I completely agree with you. Pat ticks ALL my boxes since 1978.
Jun 18 2014
at 8:39 PM
Bookmark and Share Thirdwind… I get that Pat does what drives Pat. He’s a projects guys, not a ‘what’s popular’ player. When it comes to this there are two kinds of listeners… 1) The listener that is looking for something catching and 2) The critical listener that listens for things interesting, unexpected, with depth, with complexity. People like you and I that have followed Pat for decades are number 2. I don’t think anything happened to Pat (except he got better as time went on); I think he just left the number 1ers behind. I always look forward to the next sound, the next layer, the next unexpected thing he will do. I don’t want to hear that same thing over and over like you get with the pop world. Pat fills every bit of what I look for in music. No other musician does this.
Jun 18 2014
at 12:41 AM
Bookmark and Share Between 1980 and 1990. Pat’s music really seemed to break through into the public consciousness here in the USA. He played the largest halls in my city, not the thousand-seat performing arts stages of his current tour. When I mention his name now to my peers, they respond with some ancient album the enjoyed, like AFWSFWF, but they’re unaware of the current works. How did this happen? Several theories turn over and over in my mind: 1) The songs he broke through with, specifically "Last Train Home," were so overplayed (including that sappy video) that the public wore out of it. 2) Pat’s periodic huge shifts of style ("Zero Tolerance...", anyone?) challenged and confused those casual fans, driving many away. 3) Wynton and Ken Burns brainwashed the public that jazz was one specific style of music which wasn’t played by folks who looked anything like Pat. 4) Something changed in our minds to make us think so categorically, in binary choices. If Pat’s music wasn’t soaked in the suffering of the blues, it must lack emotion and substance. If it wasn’t a horn-based band, it wasn’t jazz, either. For me, it’s the wide range of Pat’s work that keeps him relevant and inspiring. Most of his songs feature catchy hooks that are immediately appealing, but when you try to play along, you quickly realize this isn’t simple pop music. But given the laziness of the general public and their reluctance to work at understanding any complex work of art that isn’t packed with preordained meaning, I suppose we’re lucky that the music still has an audience. I wonder how non-American audiences have changed through the decades?
Jun 13 2014
at 11:36 AM
Bookmark and Share OK - here’s some good publicity for Pat and the band from the UK press this week
Jun 11 2014
at 12:01 AM
Bookmark and Share Foper. ..... True, a musician listening to his notes is like an author combing his manuscript for spelling errors. But, I think a person who truly appreciates the finished music of an artist listens to the notes and chords along with the harmonies etc. Anyways, I’m convinced a majority of people just don’t get jazz, just like I do t get opera I suppose.
Mike S.
Jun 10 2014
at 11:48 AM
Bookmark and Share Fred! I have said that very thing to these critics!! They need to see the music performed live! If they see what is happening, they may be able to better hear the layers of music played along with the visuals of each performer playing their parts!
Jun 09 2014
at 6:43 AM
Bookmark and Share Well-produced instrumental music often gets that tag. Even worse would be if someone said ’why play that jazz?’ thus condemning it to obscurity... To me, it’s elevating music, not elevator (sorry if someone else already done that word play)
Jun 06 2014
at 1:23 PM
Bookmark and Share Funny you should call Pat’s music "elevator music". Because I was in New Orleans last year and the elevators in the hotel we stayed in played nothing but jazz. You just have to be in the right elevators to hear good music!
Jun 06 2014
at 10:28 AM
Bookmark and Share Pats… Now that you put it that way, I’ve never really considered whether I listen to actual notes. I’ve been playing for a long time and feel I listen more to concepts, phrases, harmonies, and layers than actual notes; and in most instances the emotions of the music. I suppose the caveat to that would be if I were actually analyzing a song; then I might be trying to pick out notes and chords and such. Supposedly Mozart could hear an entire symphony before he put it on paper. I wonder if that means he could also see the actual notes, or just knows where the notes go. Sort of like writing words. I know what I want to write way ahead of time and don’t really think about the actually letters to type; I just know what they are. I see music in much the same way.
Jun 06 2014
at 12:07 AM
Bookmark and Share Hey, Mike. ..... Don’t take offense, 9 out of 10 people really don’t ’listen’ to the actual musical notes. They have heard so much elevator music that finally they know what they DON’T like.
Jun 05 2014
at 4:51 PM
Bookmark and Share Mike-As a career educator I also get a tremendous charge from turning people on to something new!! It must be something in the genetic code of teachers! I’ve been following the many incarnations of Pat since 1980 and I’ve never been disappointed. I like to think of his changes as a similar journey as those taken by Miles, Trane, etc. but this time i’m old enough to get it. It’s okay that there are those who do not share our passion. I hate to say it but I enjoy the intimacy of smaller groups who attend concerts just to hear his music. As far as elevator music goes...until they experience Pat Metheny live...well let’s quote Pat-"it’s Just Talk"
Jun 05 2014
at 2:19 PM
Bookmark and Share This is something that’s common across all areas, not just music. It’s hard to distinguish between things with which you are unfamiliar. If you went to a foreign country and met two peopled named "Ubbulubbalu" and "Ubbulabula," you’d get them mixed up. You might even piss people off by mixing them up, when you learn that it’s incredibly crude to have two sets of double-b’s in a single name, and perhaps having an odd number of u’s makes a name beautiful and elegant. People often get people from other races mixed up, embarrassingly. It’s happened to me a few times. With music it’s no different. If you’re familiar with the intricacies of jazz and Pat’s music, it’s easy to get his music mixed up with smooth- jazz elevator music. He has many similar elements, especially in his old stuff: super corny synth instruments, emphasis on repetitive notes, and a few other things that are difficult to explain.
Mike S.
Jun 04 2014
at 12:00 PM
Bookmark and Share hman, I feel your pain.................I had to endure some country song that seemed to go on FOREVER during an assembly! It took all I had to not end my life right there just to stop the pain!!!! There’s a reason they use that stuff for torture.
Jun 04 2014
at 6:56 AM
Bookmark and Share Toneman… You hit it right on the head! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put Pat on to unassuming listeners and they ask “Is that Kenny G?” I just put my head in my hands shaking it side to side and try to do a little music education/appreciation lesson. I get that most people are tone-deaf, and worse complacent. It’s so rare to find someone that actually listens deeply into – what I call – ordinary music and can pick up on all the little intricacies going on. It’s extremely rare for folks to be able to do the same with Pat’s music and all the layers. It’s just too much effort for most folks. I think this is an important conversation that we just don’t have often enough. As important as music is in our culture, I’m constantly dismayed with what little effort is placed in actually listening.
Jun 03 2014
at 11:37 AM
Bookmark and Share Great thread. The reality is, many can’t tell the difference between Pat Metheny and Kenny G. Thankfully, by exposing your students to this you are making great strides to remediate this plague.
Mike S.
May 29 2014
at 3:59 AM
Bookmark and Share Thanks all for answering my question!! It is amazing what this country has become with it’s taste in the many forms of entertainment and the simplification of it all.........
May 28 2014
at 2:47 PM
Bookmark and Share I think Pat said it best in his comments about writing The Way Up: …”a protest against a world where a lack of nuance and detail is considered a good thing; a protest against a culture that values that which can be consumed in the smallest bites, over the kinds of efforts and achievements that can only come with a lifetime of work and study.”
May 28 2014
at 8:44 AM
Bookmark and Share I’ve heard PM music described as far worse (namely, er, adult movie soundtrack music!!) Interestingly, when I read this thread, I was reminded of my friend (at the time) who made the ignorant comment, who I took along to PMG at London’s Hammersmith Odeon in 1989. Happy days - for me...
May 26 2014
at 3:44 PM
Bookmark and Share I hear you. Many people just don’t get it. I think the best response would be to use logic vs passion. Start talking about the mechanics of why it is so good. The output that Pat has. The breadth and depth of his popularity around the world. There’s so many good things to say. Most people won’t have a leg to stand on at that point, and at the least they may understand it from a point of view beyond ’Its just good’.
May 26 2014
at 11:40 AM
Bookmark and Share Mike S.-Next time they ask you that,ask them if they feel like "happiness is the truth" or like "a room without a roof". (Not a bad song really,but it gets old after you hear it about 10 times in a row.) I too am mystified by the strange reactions I get from my colleagues when I play Pat’s music.I’m a music teacher who works with mentally and physically challenged students.They love Pat’s music.But I had another teacher say to me as I was playing "Rise Up" "Gee,that doesn’t sound like anything special.It sounds like something I could do." I just shook my head and laughed. It seems that the majority of the American public just doesn’t get it,which is a shame.I can’t figure out why people would not be absolutely thrilled with Pat Metheny’s music.All those rich tapestries of sounds and changes and transitions that produce feelings that the english language fails to adequately describe.But,I’m used to people being clueless,maybe even a bit jaded.Last Christmas,for the Christmas Dance,I spent 99 cents on a dance track I found online that lasted an hour.It was a cheesy medley of Christmas songs with the same monotonous dance beat that went on for the entire hour.Everybody loved it……………………...
May 26 2014
at 11:11 AM
Bookmark and Share Hi Mike, First of all, kudos to you for turning your students on to Metheny! I share your frustration and the only explanation I can think of is ignorance. I believe that people who really don’t listen to or understand jazz, group it all into the "elevator music" category. It is really a pity, however you have the opportunity to educate these morons, if you choose to.
May 26 2014
at 8:35 AM
Bookmark and Share With all due respect to your fellow educators............they are not the arena and forum of jazz music................they have been spoon fed the garbage for way to long................and I would guess that most of em like "country" or retro rock n roll....................People with background and training in classical music and other jazz musicians are the ones who appreciate the many musicians also have a strong math background also...............
May 26 2014
at 5:37 AM
Bookmark and Share Read recently in a book - "Why Smart People Hurt" - the author Eric Maisel, to paraphrase saying..."there’s 7 billion (as in the world’s estimated population) continual ’experiments’ happening on this planet". This could be part of the equation....
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