Friday, November 12, 2010

The taste you don't understand

I went to a concert, a very well attended contemporary music concert.  It was a last-minute thing and I didn't quite know the program nor what to expect, and I went for a pleasant surprise.   In a typical New York city new music concert fashion, the audience included many colleagues and friends.

The concert, which was in the style of semi-written, semi-improvised form, had its good moments, and also I thought, not so good moments.  It wasn't bad, but not extraordinary in my opinion.   However, my company, who are good friends of mine--and we do share good deal of similar tastes in music--were absolutely raving about it as if it was one of the best things they have heard.  Then I realized, this particular company I had, are from an older generation, sharing different taste and history which I didn't belong to.

I do realize that I come from a classical background, growing up with Western classical music in isolated Japan.  I was quite sheltered in an "ivory tower" of elite classical conservatories for a long time.  At present, I do a lot of contemporary music, I do compose myself and consider myself quite open to all kinds of sounds and music.   But this particular concert, and the audience who seemed to have shared the same language and values, I did not understand.  I didn't understand their taste.

I thought about it quite a bit, since I am very curious when I don't understand something.   Then I thought about food.  There is a food I couldn't eat as a youngster--namely Japanese "Natto", rotten or fermented beans.  To a first timer, it simply stinks and some might even think it's gross.  I thought so when I was a pre-teen.  Then one day, I tried it and became very fond of it.  It was an "acquired" taste for me.   Is it possible that what I heard at this concert could be my "Natto"?   It very well maybe.

But then, once I become "used" to the taste, do I forget the part that was revolting or unpleasing?   Suppose I get "used to" the kind of music I heard, and start to understanding it; would I then disassociate from the taste of people who don't find it interesting?   I somehow like to remember that I used to hate the smell of Natto, and now I can eat it or even like it.   I don't think I can find it revolting again.   However, as an artist, I would also like to remember my present and past tastes, and if possible, go in and out of the time past and present, in taste.

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