Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Language of Songs

I was listening to Die schöne Müllerin for the first time in forever last night, and I got to wondering about how much more I would enjoy it if I actually understood German. For English songs like Aimee Mann's, listening carefully to the words adds another layer of enjoyment for me. On the other hand, there are great English songs where paying close attention to the words really doesn't do much extra for me; Radiohead fits more in this category. That's not to say that Radiohead lyrics are necessarily worse, but they just don't add much to my personal experience of the music. And then, there are the songs in languages I don't know, whose words obviously have little to no effect on my experience (I can sometimes recognize a word here and there). I can't imagine that I would like a German song less if the words turned out to be uninteresting, since whatever it was that I liked about the song before would still be there. But, if I could notice that the words really matched the melody or accompaniment well at some points in a song, I'd probably enjoy anticipating those moments in future listenings. I guess it all breaks down to how I appreciate music in general, which is some mixture of gut reactions and geekiness for detail. I better save digging into that for a future entry, though, since I'd probably spend the rest of the evening on it otherwise.
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