I don't understand ~ No entiendo

If I got a penny each time I heard a friend say "I don't understand it" when jazz comes up in conversation... Not that I think that "understanding" is really necessary to enjoy music, but veteran record executive Jac Holzman (b. 1931), founder of the Elektra (1950) and Nonesuch (1964) labels, explains, in an interview for the LA Times (where he makes other important points about music and technology), his very simple solution when he's confronted with music he doesn't understand:

My heart has always been with independent music... Why? Because it's edgy and experimental. We should maintain that edge and celebrate independent culture. I do that by listening to music that I don't understand. Whenever I get stuck, I just keep listening until it comes to me.


La de veces que cualquier aficionado al jazz ha oído a algún familiar o amigo aquello de "es que no lo entiendo" cuando sale el jazz como tema de conversación... No es que yo creo que sea necesario "entender" nada para disfrutar cualquier tipo de música, pero el veterano ejecutivo discográfico Jac Holzman (n. 1931), fundador de los sellos Elektra (1950) y Nonesuch (1964), en una entrevista para el LA Times (en la que toca varios puntos importantes sobre música y tecnología) da su táctica cuando se enfrenta a música que no entiende:
Mi corazón siempre ha estado del lado de la música independiente... ¿Por qué? Porque está al filo y es experimental. Debemos mantener ese filo y celebrar la cultura independiente. Yo lo hago escuchando música que no entiendo. Cada vez que me atasco, sigo escuchando hasta que me llega.


jazzlives said...

I think "I don't understand" is a quick and easy kind of defense that people use instead of saying, "I am ignorant of this particular thing -- help me get enlightened!" In school, when you say "I don't understand," you are thus letting yourself off the hook of trying to do the work of understanding - - - in effect, saying to the professor, "I don't care enough to engage with whatever complexity there might be: YOU do the hard work of explaining it to me while I sit passive." Of course -- since I teach -- I could be prejudiced. My experience is that when I say I am involved with jazz, people say, "Oh, jazz! That's nice," and their expression grows pleasantly vacant. Alas. Keep up the good work. Some of us TRY to understand! Michael Steinman

Fernando Ortiz de Urbina said...

Hi Michael, thanks for the comment. Two main things for me regarding this: One, with music, I think what Richard Feynman said about nature applies, that you can appreciate or enjoy its immediate beauty, and *understanding* it only adds to your appreciation/enjoyment. Two, about trying music you don't know, there's something inherently positive in getting out from your confort zone, but many don't have the time/resources/interest to do it. Shame. We'll just keep bangin' our drum.