The Music Column

The Lowdown on Music Appreciation

Music Appreciation is a revealing phrase: It doesn’t mean what it says.  It doesn’t mean that music is getting more expensive, though it is true that music is appreciating.  It doesn’t mean even a proper regard, as in “I appreciate your efforts.”  What it does mean is a matter more of pedantry than of anything else, but the anything else is the fun part.  I mean the part connected to money and snarky tones and snobbery.  This is the good stuff that they never admit, but you can save a lot of money on graduate-school tuition and nights at the opera if you just pay keen attention to the ensuing revelations.  One of them is that among the cognoscenti, Music Appreciation is called, familiarly, “music apprish.”  Yes, my oracular pronouncements are well worth the investment you have unknowingly made in them.  Trust me—I know.

The cheapest and most effective way to develop Music Apprish is unquestionably by listening to National Public Radio.  This is the efficient vehicle of musical experience, most of it negative, which means that you learn what you don’t like by not liking it, and then you remember its name because it was so annoying, or as the Vietnamese say, “Hanoi-ing.”  Add a few of these experiences together, and the next thing you know, you have a position in the music-appreciation rainbow, or the...

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