Monday, August 31, 2015

Music ... it's the sound!

It's the sound of music that makes it great, true?

No, not really.

It was a surprise for the musical snob world to find out that a rendition of Mozart is not judged on the auditory impact alone, even by professional, expert judges.  Despite centuries of thinking that perfection of execution was the sole criteria on which music is evaluated, we now know otherwise.

"Chia-Jung Tsay was something of a piano prodigy.  By age 12, she was performing Mendelssohn in concert. At 16, she made her debut at Carnegie Hall. Soon, she was on her way to some of the best music schools in the country — Juilliard and the Peabody Conservatory." ~NPR  She discovered along the way that her chances were improved if the judges could 'see' her perform rather than just hear her play.  Notice the key; her visual presentation in performance changed the results.

Dr. Chia-Jung Tsay, in addition to her musical career, is also a psychologist at University College, London.  She's helped clarify some things for us.

Consider.  Music lived on the radio for decades.  Live performances were rare, and a lucky person might see one or two a year.  The music world exploded with music videos, and MTV went quickly through the stratosphere and around the world.  Why?    

Powerfully presented ...
Presentation changes our valuation of content.  Mediocre anything in an impressive presentation get's a better reception in our brains.

Eye-catching ...
This particular nuance in our thinking process is a troublesome vulnerability.

From performers to marketers to politicians, they shape their presentation for the best reception.  Note the effort that is focused on presentation rather than on content quality or benefit, on persuasion rather than on objective understanding; it's not information, it's a sales pitch.  They hope to thrill us and emotionalize us into their camp, whether it's a political ideology or a product line.

It's soap they're advertising, but who cares ...
Cuteness, however ridiculous ...
Carry the concept into the media realm, and you realize it's not a friendly environment.  It's a competition for our attention, our money, and our endorsement come election day.  It's an intense and deliberate warfare without rules where the stakes are our future and the minds of our children.

Being an objective observer of truth and value is perhaps the most difficult mental task one will face in their lifetime.