Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Dancing Notes

Everyone loves music. People listen to the radio, teenagers watch MTV, some even play instruments with a passion. The same can't be said for me. For a good part of my life, I was devoid of music. I didn't listen to the radio and MTV didn't really appeal to me much. Mentioning people like Celine Dion, Michael Jackson, and Madonna made me dumbfounded. To sum it all up, I didn't really care for music.

We have a piano at home. My mom used to play and my father sometimes tells me how he wanted to learn to play it when he was a kid. I didn't have those passions and so they enforced theirs on me. I was forced to endure piano lessons once a week, on Saturdays. It was a big sacrifice for me. Saturdays were days usually spent with other kids, the time you break away from school and have a day to yourself. Piano lessons made it seem I was going to school six times a week.

I read in another person's blog that it takes great courage not to stand up to your parents. While I'll credit her on that part, it's also true that sometimes, you just have to stand up for what you believe in. It's not easy being passive about things, but neither is taking a stand. Standing up to your parents is not only empowering but it also gives you a sense of responsibility. While it may free you at one point, you are also chained down to another. One day, I came up to my parents and told them I didn't want to have piano lessons. End of story.

And so, I didn't have piano lessons ever since. I stopped at grade two lessons for piano and now I just watch my sister who is also being forced to play an instrument she does not want. Unfortunately, she never had the courage to stand up for herself. As for me, perhaps that period was pivotal. I started making my own decisions then instead of relying on my parents. I was coming into existence rather than a shadow of who my parents wish they were.

I didn't conform to anybody. Later in grade school, people were listening to all these music CDs and giving rise to the "MTV culture". I didn't care for them and so I lived an ignorant life when it came to music.

And then, anime came. One of the vast differences between Western animation and Japanese is the fact that the Japanese actually take the time to produce a musical score. Aside from the catchy opening and ending songs, anime had great background music. Purchasing an anime CD wasn't like buying a record of your favorite artist. It was more like buying a movie OST, where several artists contribute to produce a unified theme. Some might sing the vocals of the opening song, another would sing the ending, there'd be a composer who'd orchestrate the background music for this scene, and perhaps a guy who'll make the sound effects for that event. It was quite appealing to me, not just because of the concept but of the talent.

I started listening to anime music in grade seven. It started out with buying a single CD. And then I bought another one. And another one. Soon, I was buying at least one CD a month. Of course since I wasn't really a music aficionado, I didn't have a CD player, much less a radio. I was forced to play it on my computer when my brother wasn't in the room lest he complain me for listening to music I can't even understand.

During the summer of my second year in high school, I was at home with nothing to do. There weren't really any good shows on afternoons and so I was forced to watch MTV. I didn't' like it much but I did get interested in a few songs, like Alanis Morisette's Ironic and Oasis' Champagne Supernova. It was just a phase though never to reappear in my life ever again. The only reason I tune into MTV nowadays is to watch Celebrity Deathmatch.

Also, I can't remember why, but I joined the Glee Club during my freshman year. My untrained voice was quite horrible since I could never sing in tune. The moderator always told me to sing from my diaphragm but I could never manage that. I had a deep voice though which was perfect for base. Too bad I really never got to perform with it.

Before I graduated from high school, the Dance Dance Revolution craze hit us. People were skipping and hopping on dance mats everywhere, from the arcade to the house. I found the music upbeat, which is one of the reasons I actually listen to music. Never got to dance though since I didn't own a Playstation and practicing at the arcades, in public, didn't exactly suit my taste.

There was also the ring tone craze where people were composing just so that they can have an appealing ring when people call on their mobile phones. Of course back then, the software for composing such stuff was stupid. Stupid, in the sense that you can only put one note and never play more than one note at a time. What you ended up was simple songs like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and the barest tune of songs you hear on the radio. Since it was something that stupid, I could actually compose songs using my grade two worth of piano lessons.

It was also during that time that the word mp3 became the most overused word on the Internet. Just how popular was it? It outranked the word sex in search engines. You'd hear the Napster issue on the news and people were downloading "free" music like crazy. CD-burners didn't help either. This didn't affect me much as most of the concern was on Western music. I don't think people were really concerned on removing Japanese songs and BGMs on the Internet.

Nowadays, if I want to feel "energetic", I plop in an anime CD and listen to its upbeat tunes. Of course if I want to write, that's not what I play. A good, slow BGM does a lot for my nerve cells. A fast beat just scrambles it.

I really don't call myself a music fan. I mean I've had exposure to it but unlike most people, I still don't listen to the radio (then again, I also don't read the newspaper). Making music? I don't have the persistence, although I do think I could have amounted to something if I continued my piano lessons (couldn't it have been something else, like drums or guitar?) but even then, I'd probably be in love with the fame, not the music. Life without music? Can't imagine it, but I probably wouldn't notice it if it did happen.

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