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Thread: How Do You Cleanse Your Musical Palette ?

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    BPS
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    Default How Do You Cleanse Your Musical Palette ?

    This is a somewhat off-beat question - I'm looking forward to the responses.

    Let me explain my question. When eating sushi, some people say you should eat a slice of gari (i.e. sliced ginger) between pieces of sushi to cleanse the palette and prepare the mouth for the next taste sensation.

    When I'm listening to classical music, particularly when I'm jumping around between genres and/or periods, I often wonder how I should cleanse my musical palette to prepare myself to listen to the next work with fresh ears. For example, sometimes I shuffle in some short tracks of piano music between the major works to provide a kind of reset. But maybe a short break or a few minutes of silence would be better?

    What do other people do to increase their pleasure when jumping between different kinds of music?

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    I'll usually take silence. I don't listen to music as often as I used to, but when I listen to music, I'll take some silence between pieces. Might be a few moments, might be a few days. I can't use music as a "palette-cleanser," per se, because I end up getting as involved in it as a more major piece, whether emotionally or intellectually; it just doesn't work for me.
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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Interesting question (& BTW I like to have my sushi rolls with ginger, it is a good contrast!). I usually listen to a combination of lighter & serious things. But as WV says, sometimes I kind of get "seriously" involved with the lighter things as well. Eg. Andre Rieu's arrangements of other composer's pieces or songs always end up "saying" to me more than I expected. I like comparing what he does (or other arrangers, "light" or not) with the originals. I also sometimes switch on to a non-classical radio station here for variety away from the classical (contemporary things like rock, hip-hop, metal, techno, dubstep, etc.). I don't listen to those as "seriously" as the other stuff, although with things like jazz I kind of do. I used to listen to a fair amount of classical on radio, but I stopped, as I was listening to that in a way that made me kind of **** or pedantic about what was happening, rather than relax. It's a pity because I made a lot of discoveries with radio, & enjoyed things like concert broadcasts, but I have less time & "headspace" for this kind of thing now. Another thing is that I really like to buy CD's with a range of a composer's works or a range of various composer's works related by a common theme. Eg. a good one I have on the Nimbus label under the baton of Jonathon Axelrod is Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony, Schoenberg's A Survivor from Warsaw & Weill's Berlin Requiem. These are no "walks in the park" & I don't always listen to it straight through, but when I do, this diversity of styles/approaches (all in the choral/vocal realm) may well be more interesting for me to hear than just a "straight" CD focussing on just one of those composers, or just one type of work/genre by them. I like variety more than anything else, really...
    Contrasts and Connections in Music

    "Oh! It is absurd to have a hard and fast rule about what one should read and what one shouldn't. More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read."
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    Good question, indeed...I often go to the silence or something completely off...I play live weekly and on my way to a gig I don't want to hear anything like what I'm gonna play (usually psychedelic/improvisational rock) so that's when I'll usually take in a good piece or maybe just put on an easy listening station...definitely a good idea to cleanse between hearings if you are going to perform or if you really wanna sit down and enjoy a piece of music
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    I used to listen to heavy metal for years, in those days I used hippie folk as a musical "palette cleanser". It was actually not a complete musical antithesis now when I think of it, because both styles are deeply rooted in rhythm and verse/chorus. For classical music (and that's all I've listened to, for a year), I haven't felt the need for such a cleanser, perhaps because my taste is still quite narrow: romantic orchestral works and not much else. But I'm trying to expand my taste all the time.

    Edit: actually, the hippie folk was not a "palette cleanser" as such, as I didn't use it to switch between styles: the pattern was heavy metal -> can't take the heaviness anymore -> hippie folk -> relaxation -> more heavy metal. So it was more like a medicine that enabled me to take more heavy stuff, without numbing myself down. Now, that's the worst that can happen if you listen to any music that heavily affects the senses. The whole point of heavy metal is to overwhelm your senses, thus if you have no senses left, it has no effect.
    Last edited by Xaltotun; Jul-26-2011 at 11:53. Reason: train of thought went forward
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    Basically I tend to put some subtle chamber/piano solo works between sessions with huge, exhausting works for large musical forces (symphonies, operas). A day spent with light portion such music helps to regenerate your ears and prepare them for another big deal.

    I also used to turn The Monks album Black Monk Time when tired with "great" music. Try it, makes pretty weird impression.
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    Senior Member crmoorhead's Avatar
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    I usually go back to something that is a familiar favourite between long sessions of music that is relatively new to me. Usually Bach's Goldberg variations or WTC , a Beethoven Symphony or Piano Sonata or La Traviata.
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    Silence is gold.

    Currently, I'm on a musical fast, I hardly listened to anything yesterday, and this will continue until Friday. (This isn't including practicing a little each day) At that point, I think I will crave music so much, I'll just jump into whatever, my palette well cleansed of almost everything, and all Russian composers. The Russians are sorta like my musical comfort food nowadays.
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    I have a pretty rigid schedule when it comes to listening. I know exactly what CDs I'm going to be listening to each week (9-10 different CDs), and I just put them in one after the other and then back through the set as many times as I can do it in a week.
    Occasionally, I'll throw in a library Cd for a break.

    Then, of course, there are times I'm not listening to anything...so I get those breaks, too.

    But, in short, I have no problem switching styles. This week's set lines up this way:

    Anthology classical
    Haydn symphonies
    Mozart concerti
    Brahms chamber music
    Saint-Saens / Schubert symphonies
    C Schumann / Fanny Mendelssohn / Lili Boulanger / Germaine Tailleferre - concerti and symphonic works
    Aldebert (French acoustic singer)
    Gabrielli - Canzone
    French Cafe (Putumayo)
    Le Nozze di Figaro
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    The mating call of the stump-tailed macaque.

    Peter Alliss' dulcet tones.
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    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huilunsoittaja View Post
    Silence is gold.

    Currently, I'm on a musical fast, I hardly listened to anything yesterday, and this will continue until Friday. (This isn't including practicing a little each day) At that point, I think I will crave music so much, I'll just jump into whatever, my palette well cleansed of almost everything, and all Russian composers. The Russians are sorta like my musical comfort food nowadays.
    No good. Sounds like a "binge listen" to me. I rather have moderation of quality rathe than "jump into whatever". Why "fast" when it comes to music?
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    No good. Sounds like a "binge listen" to me. I rather have moderation of quality rather than "jump into whatever". Why "fast" when it comes to music?
    I'm on vacation to the beach, so a large part of the day, no computer. Also, my MP3 player broke, which makes a big difference, I use to bring it with me to the beach. I didn't listen to a single note yesterday! Except what was in my head, which I recreate all the time, but that doesn't count.

    By "jump into whatever" I mean I won't care so much what kind of classical I listen to, as long as it's classical. All I hear around here all the time is pop music. :/
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    I typically take a break by listening to something light that I've already heard a thousand times, such as Beethoven's piano sonatas or Chopin's nocturnes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kopachris View Post
    I typically take a break by listening to something light that I've already heard a thousand times, such as Beethoven's piano sonatas
    Yes but would you really define Beethoven's Piano Sonatas as 'light music'? If so how do you define 'light music'? You may have heard them a lot of times, but I don't think that is what makes something 'light'.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Yes but would you really define Beethoven's Piano Sonatas as 'light music'? If so how do you define 'light music'? You may have heard them a lot of times, but I don't think that is what makes something 'light'.
    By "light," I mean "with clear timbre and tonality." B's piano sonatas usually fit the bill because 1) the piano makes a very clear and distinct timbre, especially in high registers, and 2) the motivic development present in most (if not all) of them establishes tonality concretely enough that the music is never confusing; I can lose concentration on the music momentarily and not be lost.

    Perhaps not everyone's definition of "light music," but it's what works for me.
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