When at 3:10 a.m. on Friday morning guitarist Graham Coxson launched into the epic riff of song 2, the audience at Primavera Sound stepped on the summit. See and hear the Blur interpreting such an iconic theme was for many the culmination of a great night; the time to dance without brake; to sing at the top of their lungs (the English with the good tone that they learn in the pubs and, those from around here, to their own); the chance to get videosselfie more viral. “It’s not my problem”, Damon Albarn proclaimed from the stage.
In situations like this, the comforting feeling of belonging to the same community is activated in each of those present. Seeing others carried away by the same festive outburst that makes you move and get closer to the stage reaffirms your enjoyment of this ephemeral pleasure.
Will the new generations get used to listening to music bottled up by a chat?
Something similar happens in stadiums when the action of scoring a goal generates a sudden burst of shared joy. People who don’t know each other at all can hug each other in full swing, even in societies as little effusive as the Catalan one.
But it is evident that the impulse that motivates the enjoyment of soccer is more basic (or, if you prefer, less complex) than the one that leads us to listen to the same song over and over again.
The issue –nothing less– of why we like the songs that we like is the one addressed by the teacher, sound engineer and producer Susan Rogers in her book This is what it sounds like. What the Music you Love Says About you (Vintage), co-written with Ogi Ogas and published in Spanish by Blackie Books. Rogers and the journalist Marta Salicrú spoke about what the songs we like say about us at the Primavera Pro conference.
Rogers, who was Prince’s sound engineer at Purple Rain , determines the internal processes that make a song flood our brains with dopamine: authenticity; realism (what your mind wants to see when you listen to a song); novelty; melody, lyrics, rhythm and timbre. “A good theme does not have to be perfect –he explained–, since the profile of each person is different from the other. If you’re more into melodies, you don’t need a funky drummer, you already have Beethoven, who appeals to you”.
Each of these emotional springs activates the key point of the person listening to the song: that jolt of the bass that reaches the stomach; the warmth of a voice that recreates a theme that sung with another timbre would be bland to us; the feeling of entering new territory (“I don’t know what it is, but this is what I really like!”); being able to see yourself singing that particular composition with that particular timbre in a room full of people… The combination possibilities that make the neural network that transmits joy through music light up (or not) are almost endless .
This specialist maintains that they mark a lot, having experienced one of these sensations at some point in childhood and being able to recognize it and delve into it.
Rogers has a suggestive expression to define this search for our own musical identity: “I wrote this book to help you better understand the street you live on, even if (like me) you can’t tell an A sharp from a B flat”. In his opinion, this learning allows you to improve your connection with music and enjoy it more, as well as getting to know yourself better.
The endorsement of Miles Davis
Can non-musicians have an authoritative opinion about music? Susan Rogers tells in This is what it sounds like that one night, at Prince’s house, he had to face an interrogation by Miles Davis. After answering several compromising questions, the decisive one arrived. The genius asked her if, in addition to being a sound engineer, she was a musician, and she said no. Davis’ response was an endorsement: “That’s good. Some of the best musicians I know are not musicians.”
This reflection is at the origin of the happy moment that you live live in front of the riff of song 2 or when listening to the verses of Alright of kendrick lamar : the feeling that you live on the same street as the people around you, even though the London party girl on your left is more stimulated by rhythm than melody and you, unlike the Nottingham tourist on your right, put originality before the letter.
The value of the face-to-face experience that is lived in a festival is not a minor issue. Interacting in space, time and interest with the public and artists is the best way to resist the advance of the standardizing algorithm.
In full dizzying development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is urgent to learn to identify those factors that make the face-to-face experience not only more authentic, but also more stimulating. Learn to identify those who live in our same street. And celebrate with them.
This week a suspicion has been confirmed: young people understand what they read less and less. In Catalonia, reading comprehension deficit it is particularly embarrassing. And music? Do we understand why we like the songs we like? Will the next generations appreciate the goldsmithing of analog composers who activate our neural networks in a differentiated and unipersonal way, or will they settle for canned music for a chat? Susan Rogers’s work points the (good) way.