My first and most important resolution of 2014 was a simple one on paper, but in other ways is proving far more difficult than the standard ‘eat less, move more’ one which I’m also battling to maintain!
The resolution was first and foremost to expand my knowledge of orchestral repertoire – having come from a brass banding background, most of my classical repertoire ‘knowledge’ comes from yellowing arrangements of the ‘popular’ classics, along with various works studied at A level and during my degree. So this year I have big plans to change that, and a good deal of this is coming from the resolve to listen to at least one new piece of music everyday for the whole of 2014.
My definition of ‘new’ is a little loose – essentially what I mean is music that is new to me, i.e. I’ve either never heard it before or, if I have, it’s been as background noise that I’ve not listened to with any real intent. What ‘new’ certainly doesn’t mean is music written during the last few years; I’m sure the majority of what I listen to will not be new in that sense at all!
Definitions aside, as I said, I’m actually finding it harder by far than I had imagined it might be. I’m hoping that, like all resolutions, if I stick to it it’ll become increasingly easy – once I’ve worked out ways to do it ‘properly’ for want of a better descriptor! As it stands, I’m seven days in and already on method number five when it comes to making my selections for the day’s listening.
Days one and two were fairly easy; I simply turned on my iPod, selected the classical genre and hit shuffle. This worked well – I’ve been collecting CDs during the last few months and indiscriminately loading them on to my iTunes account, regardless of whether I know or like the composer/arranger/performer/period/genre etc, so finding something I had never listened to was almost guaranteed in one hit (as it happened, shuffle magically chose my favourite film score to play; if I was a superstitious person I’d have taken this as a sign that I shouldn’t branch out and should stick to what I know and love…luckily I’m not, and one click of the ‘skip’ button turned me on to the perfect beginning to my quest for musical discovery).
Day three was altogether more tricky, mainly on the basis that I’m perpetually forgetful and neglected to ensure I had my iPod in my possession when I left work on Friday, meaning that Saturday was a portable music player-less affair. Spotify was my saviour, and I went for the ‘search for the first composer that pops into your head and then select the first piece of theirs that appears’ approach. Not really recommended – I felt depressingly lazy and a little like a fraud when I tweeted the day’s finding, despite the fact that the work I’d listened to was exactly what this journey is all about – discovering music that I would otherwise not know.
Day four I picked a country and went for one of the big five; the following selection involved me thinking of a piece that I knew and loved followed by seeking out the composer’s next work in that series. Day six was when real laziness kicked in (I heard somewhere that the sixth day of a healthy eating programme is the most dangerous for any dieter; the day most people fall off the wagon?) – I actually turned to my boyfriend and told him to pick something for me. I wasn’t proud of myself. Day seven was when I googled one of my most loved and admired composers and then listened to the first work listed of theirs that I wasn’t familiar with.
Seven days, five methods. Four selections that I will being very happy to hear again, one that I found interesting and will go back to when I’m in a learning kind of mood, one that I found relatively dull (aside from the moment that I clocked the snippet of a well-known tenor horn solo) and a final choice which I loved from beginning to end.
I’m intending to do a round-up of my discoveries each week, which I will post here. The first post on this will be a little longer than average as I’ll do my writing on a Sunday – this week I’ll have a few of the previous week’s offerings to reflect on too.
I also intend to come up with a better way of choosing what I listen to – a great idea in theory, this was clearly not something I thought out all that well. Now that I am considering it properly, it occurs to me that I was foolish to ever believe it would be easy. There are hundreds of years worth of compositions, thousands of composers and an incalculable number of pieces out there waiting to be discovered. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I am currently one of the most spoilt-for-choice people in the entire world. And on that basis, I am going to stop complaining about this being difficult right this second, and start being very excited about the potential this resolution holds.