on listening

I was just watching a special feature that AMC produces with each new episode of Mad Men, where the creator of the show, Matthew Weiner, was describing the thematic subtext of the episode. It was about displacement, going away to another place, and being with who you want to be with while doing so. This gave me pause, as I hadn’t really been thinking about anything like that when watching the episode. Today, I realized that my experience was like that of many concertgoers who hear a piece of music, and are affected by it – sometimes deeply so – and aren’t aware of why. The piece of music can be completely and justifiably enjoyed without knowing how it is constructed or why it was constructed in that manner. Some pieces are better appreciated if their deep structure is known, but most music can simply be enjoyed (or not) on the listener’s own subjective criteria.