This is a guest post from the League’s own Sam Wilkinson! Take it away, Sam:

When I was an 11th grader, I took chemistry, and by took, I mean failed at, miserably. As each class passed, it became clearer and clearer that I wasn’t about to have an epiphany, and as I gained a more thorough understanding of my own inability to gain even a casual understanding of how to balance a goddamned chemical equation, I got angry. I stopped trying and simultaneously wanted to know, desperately, why I was being forced to do this thing I could not do.

My frustration with chemistry is my frustration with most things that I have unwillingly done in my life, in that I see no obvious benefit from doing something that I have both zero interest in and zero potential at. There’s an outlier to this though: music.

I’ve written before that my parents are musically competent people. They both graduated with degrees in musical performance and my father is just now wrapping up more than thirty-five years teaching music history at West Virginia University. My daughter has gone from piano to clarinet to percussion and has proven competent in all three. There are even moments, perhaps accidental, where my four-year old son sounds competent as he noodles around on a piano. But me? Not only do I fall apart whenever I try to maintain even the simplest of rhythms, I can’t begin to understand music’s most basic concepts.

“Dad, I really want to play the tris!” my daughter said one day. “Or maybe even the quads!”

“Those are the multiple drum thingies?” I asked.

“Yes dad.”

“What’s the difference between those?” I asked. My daughter tried to explain that each of the different drums represents a different sound.

“Like pitches? Or notes?” I asked. “Err…I don’t…within an octave? Is that a thing?”

“Sort of…” she said, sensing correctly that this was going nowhere.

Later, I had the exact same conversation with my daughter and my father. They very patiently tried to explain the different types of percussion to me. And now I’m writing this and I cannot remember the differences, what they told me, or how percussive instruments relate to any other instruments.

Which brings me to the clip above: that’s Reggie Watts performing on NPR’s incredibly compelling Tiny Desk Concert series. And that particular song, like almost everything that he does live, was made up on the spot. As in, he came into the studio and made up that song. From off the top of his head.

I only vaguely understand what is happening. I get that he’s got looping machines in front of him that are capturing his vocal samples. I get that he’s weaving those samples together as he creates them. I get that the music gets progressively more complex as more and more samples are combined.

What I don’t get – even a little – is the sort of intellectual wizardry that such on-the-spot musical creation demands. I cannot hum a jaunty tune. My wife makes fun of my whistling. As golfers are to giving high fives, I am to keeping the beat. But here’s a man who is literally his own instrument, a man who can conjure music. I’m not saying he’s a magician of course; I’m saying that he is a wizard.

I never figured out an entry point into chemistry. I remain angry that it was something I was forced to fail at. Maybe that’s the difference then; I’ve never been forced to fail at music. I’ve always been able to enjoy what I’m hearing, even if its creation remains as foreign to me as chemistry’s most basic concepts.


Glyph is worse than some and better than others. He believes that life is just one damned thing after another, that only pop music can save us now, and that mercy is the mark of a great man (but he's just all right). Nothing he writes here should be taken as an indication that he knows anything about anything.


  1. Mick:

    We were always really open to songs cos we didn’t write our own and the Rutles were always well known for their hit-making potential ability. So they ran around to the corner to the pub to write this song and came back with it and played it to us and it was horrible.

  2. I don’t know much about dancin’
    That’s why I got this song
    One of my legs is shorter than the other
    ‘N both my feet’s too long
    ‘Course now right along with ’em
    I got no natural rhythm
    But I go dancin’ every night
    Hopin’ one day I might get it right
    I’m a dancin’ fool

    The beat goes on
    And I’m so wrong
    The beat goes on
    And I’m so wrong

  3. Apologies if I have mentioned this before, but both of my brothers are quite adept musicians – one is a classical musician who makes his living at music performance and education, and one is an aspiring multi-instrumental rocker (so it doesn’t pay the bills, yet, and it’s obviously gonna be a tough road to ever make it so). But I am limited to some percussion way back in HS, and voice. So I share some of Sam’s fascination, and frustration.

    It’s possible that I lost the genetic lottery that my brothers won, but I (and my parents) think the more likely explanation is mostly timing – around the time you would start a kid on music lessons, my family moved, and I went to a new school – my parents asked me if I wanted to learn an instrument, and I said no, and they didn’t push it because I was already having a tough time and they didn’t want to make it harder.

    And that is something they and I regret.

    I tried briefly on my own to learn guitar, later; but I attempted this during one of the major depressed periods I had in my life, and I didn’t have the energy and drive to keep pushing at what appeared to me at the time as just one more thing that I was not good at. Making music should soothe the soul, but attempting and failing miserably, when you are already down, doesn’t help.

    Anyway, I still occasionally wake up with earworms of music that I have not, to my knowledge, actually heard…weird little nagging fragments of melody or rhythm that won’t leave my head for a day or two. But as I have no ability to set them down, back into the aether they go.

    Maybe I should sing them into my brother’s voicemail and he could see if they can be fashioned into anything…could be the next “Satisfaction” riff in there somewhere…

    For any aspiring songwriters here, my unsolicited non-musician advice would be to listen to music, at extremely low volume (like, just-barely audible), as you are drifting to sleep. In my experience you will mishear melodies and lyrics, or just get fragments of each; your brain will fill in the gaps, (our brains are puzzle solvers, and will create in-house the puzzle pieces that it sees as missing) and make new music with this.

    • Speaking of earworms, seeing the post title keeps getting this stuck in my head (if you don’t normally like that type of music, give it a try anyway – their melodies and lyrics are IMO a cut above the normal fare).

    • What has been your particular struggle with learning guitar? What sort of resources were you using to learn?

      • At the time, it was just me, a VHS tape, and a book.

        And when I say “brief” I mean it…I didn’t feel like I was making *any* progress, at all, in the week or two that I could never seem to get my fingers wrapped around the neck in the right positions (They just…didn’t…quite…reach far enough to depress the string, though I learned later that there can be a fair amount of variation in how easy/hard certain guitar necks can be to get one’s hands around, so maybe I also had a guitar that my hands were not suited to or something?)

        That’s the reason I was asking you about Rocksmith recently. I wondered if it would be worth another attempt at this late date.

        • Having the right guitar can make a difference. It is also important to make sure it is set up properly. That first week or two can be a pretty big hurdle anyway. The fretting hand is getting introduced to entirely new manipulations. Having a guitar with a bad setup will make it that much worse.

          I started learning from the Gibson’s Learn & Master Guitar DVD series. I ditched it when I decided to pursue finger style, but I found it to be an effective learning tool. I was happy with it, but since my interest ended up being a little more niche, I abandoned it. I may revisit it in the future, if I decide to try to improve my skills in more conventional playing.

    • I can’t keep time. Dancing or playing music are about as painful for to me to do as stomach cramps. I have no rhythm. My wife just figured it out, as I generally don’t let on about it to others although I think my son has known for a while. I tried to learn clarinet as a kid, just an awful experience. I was supposed to solo (all kids were, to show our parents how snowflakey we were), and I lied to my parents about when the performance was so I didn’t have to go our there on stage. I think this has led to slightly pathological shyness. And libertarianism…

      • I’m starting to think they should start all kids on drums. Even if you never get any better or move on to anything more complex, learning the basics of rhythm would be something…plus it’s fun to hit things and make a racket, whether it sounds “good” or not.

        • rofl. I’m quite certain i’d suck at drums. But yeah, it’s something.

          A friend of mine plays two instruments: the armonica and the theremin. He pretty much can’t play the rest, as they require too much physical dexterity.

        • In all fairness, I did choose the clarinet. My brother was a decent sax player and violinist at the time (he’s two and a half years older) and my son started on guitar, and also plays bass and cello and is at the point where he has put up an album on bandcamp that is actually pretty interesting. Like you were saying about math the other day, I am not one to say that some people do/don’t have the gene, but I do think there is some other trigger that is involved.

        • i’ve been teaching my son djembe but he does seem to have an unnaturally good sense of rhythm already. that said it’s much harder teaching him that you can’t make a racket all of the time.

          at the very least i can guarantee he’ll grow up with some cool musical gear and i’ll definitely teach him the basics of recording if he shows interest. but i can’t even read music myself.

          • “reading music” isn’t a prereq for being good at it.
            I’m convinced that standard Western musical notation is designed to fuck up dyslexics (also, logicians? What the fuck is up with using p & q?).

          • For sure some people may be better than others (though as always, how much of that is nature and how much nurture is open to debate). There’s an interesting story from Brian Eno, in this piece on how we perceive/calculate time:


            “I was working with Larry Mullen, Jr., on one of the U2 albums,” Eno told me. “ ‘All That You Don’t Leave Behind,’ or whatever it’s called.” Mullen was playing drums over a recording of the band and a click track—a computer-generated beat that was meant to keep all the overdubbed parts in synch. In this case, however, Mullen thought that the click track was slightly off: it was a fraction of a beat behind the rest of the band. “I said, ‘No, that can’t be so, Larry,’ ” Eno recalled. “ ‘We’ve all worked to that track, so it must be right.’ But he said, ‘Sorry, I just can’t play to it.’ ”

            Eno eventually adjusted the click to Mullen’s satisfaction, but he was just humoring him. It was only later, after the drummer had left, that Eno checked the original track again and realized that Mullen was right: the click was off by six milliseconds. “The thing is,” Eno told me, “when we were adjusting it I once had it two milliseconds to the wrong side of the beat, and he said, ‘No, you’ve got to come back a bit.’ Which I think is absolutely staggering.”

            So according to Eno at least, Mullen has essentially perfect and unvarying innate timekeeping ability.

            Which perversely could be (and I say this as someone who likes U2 quite a bit, at least through Zooropa) why I have always found Mullen to be a kind of boring drummer – competent timekeeping, but never really exciting. I also wonder if having a drummer who is essentially a human metronome was a great help to Edge, since so much of his guitar style depends on time-delay-type-effects…without a completely never-varying beat underneath him, it might be really hard to keep the song together.

          • Glyph,
            I know someone who has perfect relative pitch. He can tell if a note is wrong for the song, even if he’s never heard the song before.

          • In my understanding perfect relative pitch is not too unusual, particularly among trained musicians (my brothers can both do it), since it’s essentially a sort of “triangulation”.

            The unusual thing is perfect (absolute) pitch, where a single note in isolation can be uniquely identified. I will try to find a link, but IIRC, it’s been discovered that all babies have this, as it appears to be an essential tool for language acquisition; however, we lose it at an early age if we don’t hone it.

          • Huh? You mean note stems? As in d and p ? That’s so the stems stay on the staff, mostly. It’s the note and flags that matter.

            Though it’s not a prerequisite for learning music, my kids could read music almost as soon as they were able to read letters and numbers. I had two keyboards. I had a deck of music note training cards about the size of a playing cards. I’d put the note up on the music stand and play that note on my keyboard. The kid would have to fish around and find the note on her keyboard, guided by both her eye and her ear. I’d just play the note over and over until she found it. Then I’d put two card on the music stand, go over to my keyboard and play them until the kid could play both of those.

            Music notation for key signatures, again, it simplifies how the notes are written. Once the ear is connected to the eye and the hand, it’s no different than the eye connected to the arm and the hand when you’re throwing a ball.

            Staves are just nice convenient holders for notes.

            But once I got some notation software on my Atari ST which could capture MIDI notes and put them on the staff and print them, it was all over but the crying. I got them through scale training and Anna Magdalena in no time flat with that software. I still like that old machine. No computer before or since had organic MIDI ports.

          • Blaise,
            My dyslexic friend can’t tell the difference between the lines on a stave. If he had his way, musical notation would be color-coded.

          • I wonder what the beat was. Two and 6 ms seem almost impossible, physically (depending on the modality, we’re generally not good at dealing with things under tens or even hundreds of ms), but our time perception is built around chunks of a certain (likely innate) sizes (centered around a duration of something like pi/2 seconds), and it could be that even minute deviations from those precise durations is noticeable to some people.

          • Six milliseconds is a fairly long time, seen zoomed up close in a tool like Audacity. Most drummers despise click tracks. With a drum sample, six milliseconds is already through the attack phase of the ADSR of a snare drum. Of course he’d know it. You’d probably hear it, too.

          • OK, I got lots of data. It looks like the just noticable difference for duration can, depending on the length of the interval between beats, get down to ~6 ms (see in particular Table 1 and Figure 3, as well as Figures 2b and 2c). It looks like if the beat is really, really fast (100 ms intervals between a 10-20 ms sound; 100+20 would mean 500 bpm, which is probably much, much faster than a drummer would want from a metronome), you can get a jnd of around 6 ms (5.7 in the authors’ data). More realistically, if we’re talking about the fastest recorded jnd in their review, and a fast actual musical beat (let’s do something like a fast jazz beat of around 380 bpm, which, if my math is correct, given a 20ms tone, gives us an interval between tones of around 140ms), we’re looking at a jnd of somewhere around 6-8ms. Since we’re talking about U2 here, I’m assuming they were doing the song at a much slower bpm than 380 (knowing U2, it was probably in the neighborhood of 4 or 5 bpm… I kid, I kid), more like something between 80 and 150 bpm, which, according to the data in that paper would suggest a jnd of around 10ms, but maybe Mullen really does have an abnormally high absolute threshold. I seriously, seriously, seriously doubt that threshold is 2 ms, though.

            OK, I apologize, I know I just geeked out big time.

          • A) I love you guys. The data’s fabulous.
            B) 1/3rd of all languages are tonal? Weird.

          • Chris – if you look at that New Yorker article, Eno’s whole premise is that drummers are outliers (again, whether that’s nature or nurture is unknown). But in Eno’s (admittedly-informal, non-rigorous, sample-biased) experiment involving drummers only, they appear to step all over the general population in this ability, which could account for the differences between the data you have seen, and a specially-biased limited sample comprised of people whose jobs and lives revolve around timekeeping?

          • Glyph, it’s certainly possible, though there are going to be physical limits. I’m guessing 2 ms is beyond those physical limits, but a.) I’m not a psychophysicist, so what the hell do I know? and b.) I’m not a drummer, so what the hell do I know?

          • If you want a drummer to be happy with a click track, induce a slight amount of randomising into the delivery of each note. The randomising must follow the absolute beat — they don’t like it when the random note arrives slightly before. A decent muffled bass drum sample on one and three, a tiny cymbal on all four, you’re off and running. Stay away from snare samples. They sound awful. Always use a human for a snare drum. It’s the drum with the most personality.

            Drumming — as drummers see it

        • Well, if you are not a drummer, you probably know music!

          (ill-timed rimshot!)

          “Psychophysicist” is the most Ballardian-sounding profession ever.

          • Psychophysicists call themselves psychophysicists because they’re embarrassed to be in psychology departments. I’ve heard some of the ones who study vision call themselves vision scientists, either to be less pedantic or to distinguish themselves from the psychophysicists who study things like touch or hearing, who tend to be much, much geekier than the vision people… vision scientists are the party people of psychophysics.

          • I’ve done enough work in that field that I could be described as it (note: I’m not claiming to be talented in the field). I’d wager that half the people the term fits are busy writing x264, or doing other things that are evaluated by the HVS for quality.

            “How do people see?” is a great question. The natural next question is “Okay, how do we trick the brain into seeing more than what’s there?”

    • A good friend of mine is a composer. He can’t write a lick of music (the notation really screws with his head), so he really does wind up singing music through skype (or just grabbing up some sound samples, and using them).

  4. My interest was always piano and keyboards. I started asking for lessons back in 3rd or 4th grade, but they never happened. I finally learned to play piano in my junior year of high school, taking the keyboarding class that was offered. After that, I had about a year of private lessons.

    Around that same time, I got a keyboard and sequencing software. Later, I got a nice Roland JV-1080 sound module. Over my last year of high school and first year or so of college, I wrote a decent number of songs. Some were never quite finished, but I did record them. I am glad I did, because during one of my many moves, I lost the ZIP disk that had the original sequence files. Even listening to them now, I am pretty proud of them. They are instrumental. They were composed and recorded using electronic instruments, but the intention was always to have real instruments played live. I never got to that point, though.

    Toward the end of my first marriage, I parted with my equipment. I wish I never did. Last year, I got some new equipment, but I never really found the inspiration to write. Instead, I picked up guitar. It was something I had been considering for a while, but I always came up with an excuse not to. Actually, my original plan was to pick up bass (influenced by Les Claypool), but I decided guitar would be better for solo playing. Regardless, I finally decided it was time to quit telling myself I want to learn guitar and actually make it happen.

    It feels really good to be able to make music again, even though I have a lot to learn. I have not gotten to the point of trying to write anything; I intend to in time. Around February I went from learning rock guitar to learning old-style country blues finger picking (Mississippi John Hurt or Elizabeth Cotton if you want examples). Right now my goal is to graduate from “guy who is learning guitar” to “guy who plays guitar.” Occasionally, I feel like the latter, but not consistently enough. The feeling when a song that I am struggling to play finally clicks, when it suddenly goes from struggling to pick the tune to being smooth and sound like music, is amazing.

    I wish I had the time to spend composing like I used to, but I would have to sacrifice guitar practice time to do so. I am not ready to do that yet. I also hope to pick up more instruments in the future. Banjo is on the list, and I think it would be an easy transition from guitar. That is probably a couple years out. After that, who knows.

  5. I am actively horrible at learning songs (a hundred times through! at least!). I’m slightly less bad at learning melodies, but something about having to hold “words” and “melody” together in my head leaves me singing like Tori Amos on a bad day (or, you know, most of her latter music).

    • I have not heard any Tori Amos since Little Earthquakes. My high school girlfriend was really into her.

    • Fascinating to hear this, Kim. My sweetie and I talk on this a lot. There are two ways to hear music — one is verbally, where what you remember is the words, typically the hook, and that evokes (hopefully) the musicality of the piece.

      The other is actually musical; you hear the melody, the rhythm, the harmony, and the voice/words are simply another part of the instrumentation. This is most common, in my experience, with people actually adept at playing instruments, because they use the skill. I think a lot of people may have it, but it get’s overlaid by the verbal organization of the brain. It always makes me wonder if that musicality is, on some level, a more primitive way of thinking, something from our pre-language development. (I often wonder the same thing about cooks, etc., with strong sense of smell.)

      • My friend who doesn’t think in words (he uses pictures instead) is a damn fine composer.

        Definitely when I’m not listening to english music (or when I deliberately “detune”… or listen to Mumbly Joe), I’m in the other frame of mind.

        I’m not horrible about playing clarinet — with sheet music in front of me. It’s learning tunes by ear that’s difficult for me.

        • You might find something like a WX 11 a good instrument for you. If you can sit through the sappy karaoke behind this demo, it gives you a pretty good idea of what WX 11 is capable of doing. A huge step up from what the earlier wind controllers could ever do.

          • My sweetie had one for a while. It was not reliable; too delicate to gig with.

            But it was/is an awesome way to control a midi synth.

  6. I don’t even know the words to my favorite songs. My wife remembers everything and giggles at me when I can’t remember what words go where when even my most favorite songs are on. I brag like crazy whenever I get a song right (on the rare occasions that it happens) and my wife’s very appropriate response is a pat on the head and a “Good job honey.”

    • I think my problem is I tend to learn the words first, and have a very halfassed idea of pitches.

      I also, because I’m so bad at learning songs, tend to learn songs that no one else has ever heard of. Like “Serendipity”.

      • My very informal research suggests that women are better at lyrics than men, but that’s based entirely off my own dysfunction and the incredible powers of women in my life to remember lyrics.

        • This might have something to do with cueing. I know that women are more likely to remember directions with landmarks, while men will use a more absolute direction sense [close your eyes, spin around, point to home — i’ve seen this done.]

        • My wife used to get kind of freaked out when I would make her mixtapes, because as a woman she pays attention to lyrics, and wanted to read messages into my selections (and sometimes the lyrics might be really inapt).

          Not that I never selected songs for lyrical content – but I often don’t notice lyrics at all unless they are really good, or really terrible. Words are often just the stairs the melody steps on as it ascends and descends.

          It got much better once she realized that no, these are just songs that I really like, and I hope you do also.

          • Glyph,

            You’re absolutely correct. I still struggle just to understand lyrics, much less account for them when putting together something like assembling a mix.

          • I’m a far more verbal person than not, I suppose, when it comes to music.
            Not that I don’t love nonvocal, or ones where I can’t understand the vocals (including “mangled english — we just chose the words that sounded good, honest”)

          • Did your beloveds sometimes get freaked out too when the lyrics were crass, or psychotic? 🙂

          • I am minor league famous for being the guy who while at a wedding, thinks “a little Marvyn Gaye would be great about now,” and goes to the DJ and asks for “Whats goin’ on.”

    • “Music does not express this or that particular and definite joy, this or that sorrow, or pain, or horror, or delight, or merriment, or peace of mind; but joy, sorrow, pain, horror, delight, merriment, peace of mind themselves, to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore without their motives. Yet we completely understand them in this extracted quintescence. Hence it arises that our imagination is so easily excited by music, and now seeks to give form to that invisible yet actively moved spirit world which speaks to us directly, and to clothe it with flesh and blood, i. e. to embody it in an analogous example. This is the origin of the song with words, and finally of the opera, the text of which should therefore never forsake that subordinate position in order to make itself the chief thing and the music the mere means of expressing it, which is a great misconception and a piece of utter perversity; for music always expresses only the quintescence of life and its events, and never these themselves, and therefore their differences do not always affect it. It is precisely this universality, which belongs exclusively to it, together with the greatest determinateness, that gives music the high worth which it has as the panacea for all our woes. Thus if music is too closely united to words, and tries to form itself according to the events, it is striving to speak a language which is not its own.” -An ornery German dude who hated Hegel and liked to push old ladies.

      I read this (and The Birth of Traged, and “The Immediate Erotic Stages or the Musical Erotic”) at too young an age, and I think they biased me against hearing lyrics. That, or I’m male. I dunno.

      • Another interesting phenomenon is the linkage of English to rock music. I have a German friend, and he tells me that many German rock bands sing their lyrics in English, because the musical rhythms of rock and roll just seem to work best that way. Something about the way rock beats and chord progressions/melodies fit together, just doesn’t work as well in (at least) German, according to him.

        I suspect, but have no way to prove, that more beat-based music (like hip-hop, which revels in fitting unusual word rhythms to the beats as a sign of prowess with the form – see Kool Keith’s weird-ass flow as an example) may be more adaptable to other languages, and this may be yet another reason that hip-hop to me seems more worldwide-saturating than even rock music ever was?

        • I wonder if this has something to do with the fact that a lot of the German and Russian rock bands I’ve heard who sing in their native languages are punk rock bands: maybe the sharp beats and simple rhythms are more amenable to non-English lyrics?

          What you say about rap makes sense to me intuitively, though it’s not something I’ve really thought about. I actually love French-language hip hop, even though I rarely understand what they’re saying (if you don’t listen to MC Solaar, you’re mising out). In fact, I kind of prefer that, because rap tends to make me listen to the words, and when I’m performing some other verbally-intensive task like writing or reading, this forced attention to words interferes with or limits the resources for the verbal processing I’m supposed to be doing.

          Also, a good place to learn about and listen to French hip hop.

          • German and Russian sound like languages that would just like punk.
            Emphatic and gutteral.

            Not that I haven’t heard fantastic Russian music (intended as a vocal warmup), where I realized it didnt’ sound a thing like russian.

            Also, is this rock? rock opera?

          • I think we were specifically discussing a punk band that sang in English, so I am not sure. He may also be biased; his father is German, but he himself was born and spent much of his childhood here in the US, so it may just be that to him German-language rock music still sounds weird in comparison.

        • German makes great rock (judging from listening to Falco).
          Japanese is great too.
          I can see tonal languages being weird, and not working as well.

        • Japanese works just fine. Rhymes wonderfully. Most of the verbs end in vowels. Nice, even syllables. Perfect language for rock.

        • OK, this might be a little too heavy for MD, but whatever…

          I quoted Schopenhauer up there without comment, but if you are interested in this sort of thing, you’ve got the time (it’s going to take time), and you have at least a passing knowledge of Kant (say, you know what “the transcendental unity of apperception” means), Schopenhauer’s aesthetics in the 3rd book of The World As Will and Representation is really cool. Basically, because this world is all fished up because of the self-fracturing of the unitary Will into the world of representations(think Buddhism), we can’t see things how they actually are (that is, as the unitary Will; think Kant with Buddhism), but art, for complicated reasons (read the book!) provides, if we approach it correctly, a direct access to the Will. You can’t think about the art, though, you have to experience it directly (that is, without the mediation of concepts), which means you can’t intend to see the art, you just have to see it by accident. In a sense, the only way to access the will is to be walking down the street, trip, stumble through the doorway of an art gallery, and as you lie on the floor, look up and see a Vermeer on the wall. For the briefest of moments, before your thinking kicks in, you will experience the Will. Music makes this experience of the Will, however fleeting, slightly easier than any other art form because it is, of its nature, non-conceptual. Thus, adding words to music (making us think about the music conceptually) tends to decrease the true benefit of it as art, because words are conceptual. Glimpsing the Will, which I should have noted is a wonderful experience because it is the fractured nature of the Will as we experience it in representation (that is, everyday experience) that causes suffering and strife and brussels sprouts, so experiencing the unitary Will is sort of like experiencing existence without brussels sprouts, i.e. wonderful.

          • Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

            Just kidding! I like to think in my everyday life that I am reasonably intelligent, but hanging around the League helps remind me I’m lucky to be in the bottom third. So always feel free to geek the fish out; it’s edumacational.

            Not having entirely followed all of that, I will say that reading it made me think somewhat of the discussion here on the live 30-minute “holocaust section” of MBV’s “You Made Me Realise”; in the sense that for that period, there can be no abstract concepts (certainly not lyrical, and not even musical concepts, exactly, as what is happening is only somewhat under the control of the musicians, being comprised at least partially of random harmonic noise) between you and the pure disorienting sensational strangeness of the experience – though any ego loss experienced is entirely due to one’s submission to the will (in its more everyday usage) of another – that is, Kevin Shields and his weaponized amplifiers.

          • Yeah, that’s a way too short summary, so there’d be something wrong with you if you entirely followed it from that.

    • my wife does that too. i find it maddening.

      she also spent years calling gybe “godspeed to the black emperor”. i’d be like “why do you have to be so racist?”

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