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Music Videos

I once read a blog post, (I'd link to it if I could still find it), where the blogger described how he could no longer listen to his large music CD collection, because he had been "spoiled" by music videos on the Internet. Now he can only listen to music where he sees the instruments being played, otherwise a part of the music-listening experience is missing.

My response: this is the bad ending for any fan of music, the death of your imagination.

When I was a teenager getting into music, watching recordings of live performances (or seeing the school band play) was a learning experience. I could find out how a song was put together by watching what the musicians were doing. I learned how particular instruments could be written together to make certain sounds, how interesting effects were made.

As I became more experienced at listening, (also playing and reading some scores), there was no longer any need to watch videos to understand what I was listening to. I knew instruments by sound. I could even recognize certain samples that were popular. If I wanted too, I could picture any instrument playing in my head. I never needed videos to appreciate music to begin with, but as I learned more, the videos became even less important, not more.

A song can be interpreted in an infinite number of personal ways. Before I really got into music, I would listen to movie scores and imagine original scenes playing out in my head. That whole time, I doubt I was really missing out on "part of the experience" by not knowing which musicians dress like idiots on MTV. The unnamed blogger above now refuses to listen to any music unless it has been pre-interpreted for him.

Ideally a music video and it's song should seem like they were made to be together. In practice this is almost never the case. So many music videos feel like random crap that was cut together out of obligation, or they're just really boring. I suppose back when editing was done on real tapes, even these kinds of videos took effort to make. But it doesn't matter when they do nothing to improve the actual music they were made for.

Music right now is in an interesting place, there's a whole world of musicians experimenting with new styles, reaching audiences on the Internet without needing to pander to any industry demand like having a tacked on video. Musicians you'll never hear on the radio. If you're someone who thinks music was better before some arbitrary decade, you are vastly overestimating your own knowledge. Great music is out there if you just take a peek outside of the box you put yourself in.