Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I will always hate loud music

Ihave very distinct musical tastes. For the longest time, I have appreciated Baroque and Classical Music, a smattering of some old "classics" from the early to mid-2oth century, some 70's music, and the music they used to play in the early Sesame Street. I also have been listening to Enya for quite some time now. I know I am not a music connoisseur, but I am definitely a music afficionado and I can hear, in my mind's ear, the music I so love. People have called me names ranging from freak to anti-social for my musical preferences, the tamest (I think) was that I was accused of being boring. I didn't mind... I enjoyed my music.

Now, a few years ago, I was introduced to several sources of unwanted loud noise/music of which I had no control or choice over. The first source are the blaring music of public transportation vehicles. The second source are the blaring boom boxes and "mobiles" of peers. The third, and most damaging (later, I will explain why) was when I had a stint teaching high-school kids. The thing with the first two sources was that they either don't last very long (the former) or that I can choose to stop my ears or leave the place (the latter), and so later, when I returned home, I can listen again to my "boring" music and hear what I remember hearing.

But those nasty, inconsiderate kids whom I tried to teach would not let up with their noise. I frequently had to raise my voice just to be heard because, in keeping with the current trend of unruly students of "heroically" defying their teachers, they did their best to maintain conversations and not keep quiet. No threats scared them—they know I can get fired for corporal punishment (funny how I can suddenly wish for something I used to be bitterly against when confronted with a bunch of idiots who deserved it) and they didn't care if they got minuses from their grades (they had their parents who can fight for the "unfairness" of grading their kids' "intelligence" based on how talkative they are; they can even convince the principal that talkativeness is merely their way of showing smarts).

At any rate, they were noisy enough to keep my ears ringing long after I got home. But, what choice have I got? I needed to keep not only my eyes but ears peeled when it came to students. What kind of teacher would I be if I didn't pay attention to them?

During that time, the only "music" I got to hear were Back Street Boys and those other loud whatchamacallits that are only worth listening to because they were currently "in" at the time. But one Christmas, I tried listening to a bit of Ray Conniff to ease my nerves. Imagine my shock when the only voices I heard clearly were the men.

So I frantically dug up my Enya CDs and other classical/baroque music and listened to them, and I fairly panicked when they all sounded different from when I remembered. I can no longer hear the lilting high notes in Enya, or enjoy the flutes of Mozart (I can't hear them), or the loveliness of Handel's Messiah. I tried to convince myself that my speakers were busted... yeah! Those speakers were ancient. I bought a brand new pair—still the same result. I borrowed high-quality ear-phones—nada! I had to accept the fact that my hearing was now impaired.

The reason why I am remembering all this now is that, two years after I resigned from that hazardous job, and listening only to real music at their proper volumes, I realized that I can enjoy Enya again. I can, once again, hear those lilting high notes in her songs, and I can enjoy the interweaving melodies of a cappella recordings again. But, it still isn't the same as it was before: I have regained some of my hearing, but not all of it.

Idespise all those people who think that all their loud music is "the way to go" (including kids who think that ears ringing is "cool") and scorn the sort of music I like. For the longest time, I cannot defend my preference, since they themselves cannot see anything "special" about my music. For years, I knew why—their music is damaging their hearing and their ability to appreciate real music; but I didn't have any proof beyond my assertions.

The day has finally arrived. People are now finally accepting that loud music is bad. Here is just a smattering of the links I found that supports my view, including one hypocritical account of a drummer of a band claiming that his hearing loss is not due to the loud music he plays but rather because he used studio headphones.
In the meantime, I will enjoy my Baroque music, thank you very much, while I try to train myself (in the spirit of Christian charity) not to gloat in the next few decades when those who are fans of loud boy band music and gangsta "rap" will find that they cannot even hear the music that destroyed their ears... while I admire the nuances of different versions of the same Baroque or Rennaisance song.