Saturday, May 08, 2010

Do re me fa sol la ti dopamine!

We all need rewards of some kind of other, and when we don't get a reward from the person or entity we desire one from, most of us seek out other means. Perhaps that's why some people spend inordinate amounts of time developing enough technique to play in a way that can be self-rewarding. Perhaps that's why some people spend inordinate amounts of time writing music: hours and hours of time for the reward of a minute or two of music that works. Some of us pretend to exist on self-rewards. Sometimes we fool people. Sometimes we can even fool ourselves, but the deception doesn't last.

Most of us need rewards on a regular basis. Perhaps we crave cadences, because each one is a reward. Each cadence is a journey (of varying length and landscape) from instability to stability. Perhaps that's why tonality has survived for so long, and why it will continue to survive--even to thrive.

Rhymes are rewarding. Snappy rhymes plus music with strong cadences equals popular music. And there's nothing wrong with liking music that is popular, or music that once was popular. Consider Verdi, consider Gilbert and Sullivan, consider George and Ira Gershwin, and consider Cole Porter.

If I listen to well-performed tonal music when I'm feeling down, I magically feel a bit better, at least while I'm listening.


Anonymous said...

"Most of us need rewards" probably comes to "all of us need rewards," don't you think? When I consider the many artists I admire across centuries, their stick-to-itiveness was just pushing forward with the next project and then on to the next. The making of something seems to me the reward in of itself, which clearly explains Stranvinsky's answer to the later-in-life question of his "favorite" work. He answered, more or less, the one I am writing now. So with that in mind, I think we should reward ourselves today. If the dopamine makes us "dopes" in someone's eyes, at least we can be happy dopes. Do re me dope!

Elaine Fine said...

I still hold the idealistic notion that some people can get along without needing rewards, but I'm probably wrong. Rewards are certainly few and far between for composers, and in the quest for some kind of a sense of reward, that evil creature we call "rejection" always seems to but through to the front of the line, with that perennial pest "indifference" standing right behind!

Anonymous said...

I think we have a misunderstanding about words. Putting the last double bar at the end of a piece seems to me like a fine reward, much like dining on the outcome of a recipe which turned out great. If you mean reward in the sense of either applause or cash, then Van Gogh never felt such a rewards. Yet I think he was rewarded much and greatly with each sketch and canvas that he completed. Given that a Van Gogh seemed not to have been concerned in the least with rejection, why should we? Mulling over rejection and indifference, I don't seem to care a fig for either. Maybe it's just a matter of words? Or is it one's Weltanschauung?