Radiohead Essay

Radiohead Essay-33
As we will see, the emotions accompanying expectations are intended to reinforce accurate prediction, promote appropriate event-readiness, and increase the likelihood of future positive outcomes.We will discover that music-making taps into these primordial functions to produce a wealth of compelling emotional experiences.(2006, 4) Huron goes on to note that our capacity (and desire) to predict confers very specific biological advantages, including our preparedness for advantageous opportunities and the avoidance of potentially dangerous situations; accurate expectations also optimize our expenditure of energy and help focus our attention in economical ways (2006, 3, 176).

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In all cases, such lack of concrete references—visual, lyrical, musical—allows a fertile space for active listeners to personalize the experience in ways that are deeply and complexly emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.

Meter in particular plays an essential role in our ongoing and real-time perceptual organization of music, with research demonstrating how the average listener attempts to impose a meter on whatever he or she hears (Povel and Essens 1985; Temperley 2001, 24, 205–6).

I conclude with further thoughts on the roles and possibilities of ambiguity and the directions it points towards mass participation and collaborative problem solving in the realms of aesthetics and music theory.

Introduction [1] I first heard Radiohead perform live on August 19, 2008 at the University of British Columbia’s Thunderbird Arena.

[2] I made the decision early on to tackle their albums in chronological order, listening to each one a minimum of three times (and at different times of the day), without any reference to guides or record reviews, before moving on to the next.

And so it took me a while to make it to their fifth full-length studio release, Amnesiac (2001).

Internet research engages audiences on their own terms—where they provide their own analytical-interpretive language, instead of having to choose from pre-established categories (a norm in academic research questionnaires)—and in their natural places of experiencing the music (often within the home from their computer, stereo, or mp3 player, rather than in a university lab).

Re-presenting these views in their entirety, preserving the “grain” of the individual voice, reflects as well a long-held ethical imperative within ethnomusicology and anthropology not to speak for others.

Knowledge of this foundational structure—including what the beat of a song is and how to predict its recurrence—is a key ingredient in creating (positive) musical emotions, with our human concern or preoccupation with seeking out a regular pulse in musical sound most likely based on an evolutionary adaptation (Levitin 2006, 168–9, 171–80; Patel 2006; Sacks 2007, 240).

In the context of the typical pop/rock song, it is the beginning or intro that creates that pregnant moment when listeners attempt to engage in the groove, to be rewarded by the “promise of entrainment” (London n.d., 10).


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