Classical Music · 29 March 2014

This work is in the public domain.

One of the reasons I like classical music is because of the images I see in my head.

There are many reasons to like classical music, but when trying to sell kids on its merits, we often point to things that really make no difference to them. They do not really care that it might give them a greater appreciation of all music or make them smarter, especially in math. They just want to know why they ought to like it. I see this when I tell kids that I like classical music and their eyes glaze over. They think that I, like so many others, will try to tell them why classical music is good for them.

Fortunately for them, I do not really like to extol the virtues of classical music. Partly, because I do not really care that it might make me smarter (although that is good incentive for listening). And partly because I did not really know why I like classical music until recently.

I had the revelation as to why I like classical music while I was listening to the radio on the way to work one day. It was tuned to our local classical music station, Classical King FM. The song playing was one I had heard many times. But not on the radio. It was the Overture from The Barber of Seville by Rossini. As I listened to the music in the car, it took me back to many a Saturday morning watching cartoons as a kid. I could see Bugs Bunny massaging Elmer Fudd’s head with his feet to the sound of the violins playing. It was then that I realized exactly why I like classical music. I like cartoons.

Actually, as I thought more about it, I realized that TV and movies and even internet videos have music. Often classical music. I cannot think of Darth Vader without hearing The Imperial March. Or Alfalfa and Our Gang without hearing “Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!” from The Barber of Seville. Or the Lone Ranger without hearing the William Tell Overture.

It goes the other way too. These songs and others bring to mind specific images in my brain. I like to hear Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf so I can remember the Disney animated short. I see Mickey Mouse when I hear Paul Dukas’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. There are so many classical songs that bring so many images to my mind. These images, whether cartoons or not, are really the reasons why I like classical music.

When it comes right down to it, there are really no right and wrong reasons to like classical music. We can like it for its musical significance or its impact on history and civilization. We can like it for the feelings we get when we listen. We can even like it because we think it might make us or our children smarter. I like classical music for all of those reasons, but mainly I like it because I like cartoons. Because I like the images classical music conjures up in my head.

[Note: I wrote a piece like this a few years ago (Classical Music and Me), but do not tell anybody that classical music might not help the memory.]

© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi

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