A philosophical question.

I want to pose a sort of philosophical question about our listening to music.
The obvious answer to the question is that we should listen to whatever we damn please. But the query is: should we be happy listening to our favorite composers and compositions, or should we feel guilty about not exploring new horizons and music we’re prone to hate?  For me, the obvious bitter pills are such as Liszt, Neilson and Bruckner, not to mention the Second Viennese school.  We run the risk of close-mindedness by ignoring that which we don’t know and missing out on what what glories might be out there.  On the other hand, we only have so much time, and there is a universe of more accessible music available.
I just wonder if this dilemma has crossed anyone else's mind.
Oh yeah, same thought has crossed my mind many times. There are brand new records still in the wrapper just sitting on the shelf. Bought for whatever reason but then when there’s time to listen what do I put on? Something I know.

Its the same when I go out. Osso buco, lamb shank, if I’m in a good restaurant and that is on the menu I am all over it. Why? Because nine times out of ten trying something new is just not gonna be all that good. The odds are so stacked against it you wouldn’t believe! Its so bad, one time we went to this ice cream place that was all the rage in trendy downtown Redmond. Okay you say, ice cream! What’ll it be.... flannel? WTF? Who wants flannel ice cream? Sage? RU kidding me? Apparently not.

Its taken me years, but finally at last I have worked it out. The System is for deep enjoyment of music I love. Everything else is for the trial and error. If I hear it in the car or supermarket or on the laptop and like it enough to want to hear it a few more times then maybe it can run the gauntlet and make it onto the platter.

That’s just the beginning. Then we listen and it winds up going into one of a few categories from suitable for warmup to the highest of which is demo quality with tears. Emotional catharsis. Can only take so much of that, so these tend to be played only towards the end of the evening.

That’s the long answer. The short one is, Neilson maybe, Nilsson yeah baby!
or should we feel guilty about not exploring new horizons and music we’re prone to hate?  

Guilty, no but intellectual curiosity and artistic restlessness are part of a healthy cultural mindset.

We are all seeking different things from our music. Cultural connection, being soothed, and satisfying our need for exploration. Who am I to tell anyone else which reasons they should listen to music for?


Of course
some people have a passport and run a groove to Cabo only. I have a 90 year old friend who visits 2 new countries a year.

a Tidal, Qobuz or symphony subscription will humble all but the most self centered - there are worlds beyond worlds out there...
This is why a subscription to Tidal or Qobuz is worth the money -- you can explore music that you never knew existed or would not go out and buy or download. There is so much at my fingertips that I rarely walk over to my CD rack or access the digital storage already paid for.
You should also read the replies in this thread, which I think show the range of opinions on this topic is quite large.

To some, the idea you can learn to appreciate music you don't already appreciate is anathema.

As Groucho Marx quipped to the guest on You Bet Your Life who had just informed him she had ten children, I like my cigar too but I take it out sometimes.
A lot of times I will start a listening session with something new that maybe a friend, critic or relative recommends. Tidal is great for this type of exploring but once the system is warmed up if nothing grabs my attention, I will start playing music from my library. As has been said previously, we only have so much time but it is fun to find a new artist that is unknown to you.
@david_ten yes!!!!

right now? Michel Legrand - Legrand Jazz ( Impex IMP 6028 )

in an hour ? Dunno - but IF I feel the need to wander, I will just look for you in the music threads... Vienna Teng anyone ?
I'll chime in with several posters above and say that Tidal, Qobuz and other streaming music sites are the proverbial bees' knees. Toss a few bucks their direction each month and you have a veritable universe of music to sample...in damnably high fidelity. Some days you go shallow. Other days you go deep.
I suspect that professional musicians like to play new music but I'm not sure audiences want to listen to it quite as much.
The history of music in occident is an "history" that reflect something about our own consciousness evolution...It is not a random accumulation of random creations...

Then, If we all have our taste defined by our circonstances, and origins, and habits, talents, studies etc, re-educating one self with music is also re-educating our own attention and learning to redirect it on some new levels of consciousness and attention...

Man has something more perhaps than inherited tastes something that makes him able to learn and modify himself when he is ready to do so....

Personally I listen to many different oriental musics for example to modify my own consciousness ( particularly Iranian-Persian, Indian and Arabic and Turkisch )... Jazz revealed to me some new aspect of musicianship....I comes from choral renaissance and medieval music and Bach…. From there to Brahms and Bruckner and Mahler...At the end to some contemporary music from Scriabin or Chostakovitch… All that evolution has taken me 50 years...My musical attention was way more profound now....And I have my taste but much more than that a more open conscious manner to discover new levels of reality....It is normal to develop personal tastes, but not desirable to limit ourselves….Like we must learn to make love, or to meditate, we must learn to listen … Tastes is only the beginning of a road, that will reveal new tastes adding to the first one....Learning to love something new is simply learning to perceive something that we were not ready to perceive before....It is not desirable to love everything, and impossible; but learning something new during each passing decade of our " growing listening body" seems more than desirable ….

Music reflect new levels of reality in the heart, and new levels of the heart in the perceiving brain....Open your heart....Open your ears....When one is ready the other go on with....
After listening to the reconstructed Mahler Tenth I wind down with a couple spins of Hanky Panky by Tommy James and the Shondels.

For Listz I recommend to you this version of Obermann valley :


Close the light and listen to this volcanic eruption out of any other pianist possibility except Liszt himself perhaps...

Sometimes a composer is revealed only by a transcendental interpretation... This one is for me...

You can try Liszt evening bells it is on the same transcendental level by the same pianist...

Thanks for this excellent thread idea... My best
@tomic601  Legrand fan as well. I don't have access to that reissue / Impex remaster (via streaming).

Listening to 'At Shelly's Manne-Hole' with Michel Legrand alongside Ray Brown (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums)... : )
I manage to do a little of both. I find that exploring new music is like exploring new literature or hobbies. Keeps my 64 year old brain from more rapid distintigration.
That's the fun of it, to learn about and appreciate new things. Now if you miss out on Tommy James and the Shondells, no big loss, but other things might a big loss to never understand, and great things to appreciate if you do get to. Maybe the Second Viennese school is one of those. Having never even heard of the first Viennese school I'd not be a good judge of that.

I've also found that things culturally related I don't understand, but have a strong negative reaction to, often times tells me there is something there worth exploring, and getting to understand and appreciate. That's not to say a third Viennese school might not be simply appalling. One of these days I'm going to get to understand 20th century modern art after Chagall or the German Expressionists. Must be something to appreciate there since they've go whole museum filled with it.

Kind of the same with much of classical music which I'm sure you love, but I'm just beginning to get a handle on. Or Coltrane's post "A Love Supreme"  free-form jazz, the same thing. In my opinion It's worth a bit of effort to achieve those cultural rewards if enough people you respect let you know they're there. Forget Bruckner though. 

IMO part of discovery is setting aside well worn paths and ego and deliberately seeking out new or different. Humbling oneself to have a Sensei is quite powerful and certainly a traditional thing in some cultures.. including music and musical expression

anyway, “ enjoy every sandwich “ as the late great Warren Zevon said....

some day... it will be that last sandwich
Students attending the music conservatory don’t realize how good they’ve got it. Where I am, the training at CCM is extremely conservatory but excellent nonetheless. There used to be a composers festival during the summer and people like Moritz Eggert, Steve Reich, etc. would visit, perform, direct clinics, etc. It was great and nothing at all like putting something unfamiliar on the stereo.

I just believe there are so many variables where it comes to whether I’m touched by something or not. I grew up manly appreciating classical and jazz but always looked forward to seeing the Grateful Dead because I like freaky weirdo’s and thus developed a taste for what and how they played. Most often, I need to feel involved in some way, even if it just means having a simple appreciation. I do have hope that gifted new artists and composers will be recognized.

Do I believe Beethoven and Jimi Hendrix should be a part of the same conversation, not really but not in a comparative way. For sake of not over complicating things, they can be appreciated for what they are and unless I have low self esteem, it really doesn’t matter beyond that.
As far as I'm concerned, genre is truly overrated as a way of choosing music to listen to. If it's good, i.e., if it moves you on any aesthetic, emotional or visceral level, it's worthwhile. As Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson once said, it's all noise to a Martian anyway.

And oh yeah, if you don't like Bruckner, try the Third Movement of the guy's Symphony No. 8, the Adagio, especially the old DG recording with Eugen Jochum and the Berlin Phil.  Transcendentally lovely and moving.  And hey -- I saw that Michel Legrand gig at Shelly's Manne Hole. Was it because my buddy had to see Ray Brown?
In my opinion, it's for the best to try and explore everything out there, all music genres. You might be surprised to see that you like a variety of other genres, artists, and so on. Yes, time is limited, so you should spend it exploring whilst still prioritizing what you like most.
On the other hand, we only have so much time, and there is a universe of more accessible music available.

millercarbon describes my situation and approach very well. I'd add that repeated listening to something not to my taste is unlikely to warm me. When my wife was in her graduate music program, I must've listened to a Scriabin (and one other I can't recall) piece on the piano hundreds of times. It was the proverbial "Fingernails on a blackboard" to me and I just don't warm up to that. More power to those who can acquire a taste.
I have a better record for acquiring taste in food, but if it's on the menu, yeah, the lamb. Or the calf's liver.

Since music is about emotions and how it moves the body, etc... then....do whatever makes the emotions work for you.

Simple enough.

After too much analysis on these areas, I release myself from the analysis and do what works in the moment, refusing over think that part of my life. If I decide i have to go back to overthinking it, then I will. And then drift into something else.

If the point is to lower stress or to de-stress or to expand my joy in life, then I’ll just flow in what works, and not overthink it.

The meditation end of the pool. Empty the mind, open the mind, etc.

Overthinking it is just too much of one’s life spent on the wheel of pain, wrapped in a hamster wheel. Kinda like the forums.

The ratio is like: for every one of us having a presence and arguing on the forums, there’s 10x-20x-30x more... that are not here, and are just listening to the music....
I’m somewhat surprised and very impressed by the responses this post engendered. Really thoughtful and introspective replies.
Thanks to those who submitted suggested listening.  I will follow up.
If you’re looking for new music in classical repertory,  there’s no better streaming site than Idagio. Only $10/month.
David Ten gave a most philosophical response. BTW, I like streaming services because it allows me to constantly try new artists and I like new.
I found the best recommendations on Spotify. Unfortunately, the sound quality is below par compared to Quobuz, Idagio and Tidal.
I never heard of Louise Farrenc, until Spotify.
My decades-long exploration of classical music has always been repertoire based.  By this I mean I always sought out those less-known or outright forgotten composers on obscure labels, rather than sticking to a core of canonical composers and pieces, and perhaps multiplying the number of recordings I have of one piece.  (Exception: Mahler.)  I explore laterally a period I enjoy.  For years I was after Mahler's near contemporaries, from Suk, Reger, to Martinu and a host of others.  More lately I got into the Stylus Phantasticus, and collected twenty recordings from the early Italians through Biber and beyond--mostly composers most people have never heard of.  For quite a while I was buying the installments of Hyperion's seemingly never-ending survey of 19C piano concertos.  Conclusion: you do stumble occasionally over minor gems, but you also listen to a lot of worthy but ultimately unexceptional music.  There is a reason the canon is the canon (or rather two canons: the canonical works by canonical composers).  But I suppose I have the completist gene, and the thrill of the hunt keeps me going.  It's not a question of guilt, but rather of curiosity and ultimately enjoyment. So many things are a chore, music shouldn't be one of them.
 Streaming has solved that dilemma for me. Not as much excitement as finding a new disc of great new music in the old days, but no sheepish “ what was I thinking” when it sits on the shelf forever after playing it once.
millercarbon, you are going to have to come over for dinner. We make osso buco/ lamb shank stew but sous vide the meat and add it and it's juice at the end. The stew is cooked with stew lamb and bones in the oven. Killer dish:)
My problem is I get bored with music I play too much so I am always moving around between genres and artists. If I don't like something I will revisit it weeks to months later because sometimes it is just my mood and I might like it the second time around. Having a large collection is nice. Much harder to get bored with it. 
I listen to some cd 1,200 times in a 7 years period for example ( Heinrich Schutz Geistliche Chormusik 1964 Dresden Mauesberger, Vivaldi opus2 sonatas in trio etc)I wrote at this times and use some cd each day for years like a pill for creation without being bored....I guess I am a different animal....I like variety tough, I listen music in all styles, countries, and periods....

I listen very often to some of my best 100 cd or files, amongst the thousands in my library, these best files are so sublime to communicate a specific emotion that I cannot live without listening to them periodically....

For me, some musical work are so high in their emotional content powerful expression, that most other works are almost boring compared to them....Then looking for some variety that rivals my other best files, I was in the obligation to scan all periods, styles, and countries...My "best of" is distributed in all genres...I dont like for example heavy metal in general, but even there I discover some best powerful expressive stuff....

For me music is medicine for my health, food for thinking or meditate, and drugs activating creation device, and emotions feed back machine from ecstasy to excitation and melancholy, and sometimes and at least, a very simple joy.... :)

A brief history of Buddhism via John Coltrane's Music

My Favorite Things

Monkey Mind
Truth, is it not so whether we agree or not, approve or not, enjoy or not?
But how and by whom is truth defined?

A Love Supreme

When the student is ready the teacher appears.

Om, Part I & Part II


What is NEW today becomes OLD tomorrow.

Give new things a chance...you might like something out there.

*S*  Listen to whatever rocks your cradle....you shouldn't need to qualify nor seek approval, explain or have doubts over it's credibility....

*L* The 'weight' of your collection need not match that of your amps or your speakers....Mahler to Monkees, Beatles to Bach, Zappa to...

To paraphrase C. Lauper:

Audiophiles should just want to have fun.

Go have some. ;)
Never thought about it. I listen to music for me, not anyone else or their sensibilities. It's something I do because I wish to, so I listen to what I want when the whim strikes. Never thought about it further than that. Dear God, what a great way to screw it up-overthinking it. I think I'll  go play...something.
Sometimes music is fun....
Sometimes music is moving...
Sometimes music is ecstasy...

What music to play is one particular entry-point into sole philosophical question of humanity. Serenity is one's given equipoise between opposite, yet complementary, extremes: yin and yang. Everything is both true and false at once. "Life is too short for hearing anything but Bach." "Life is too short for not hearing everything." Which is right or wrong? Both are right and wrong at once. Between these extremes lies the range of personal choice, which can never be right or wrong to anyone but oneself.
*BigSmile*  There ya' go....;)

If we can't get on the same page, at least we can be in the same chapter.

Here's one from Willie the Shake....pick your image...