Within the classical framework, I find it difficult to appreciate fully more recent music, beginning from Schoenberg and atonal music, through avant-garde, musique concrète and electronic music. Strange enough I have great trouble with anything discordant. In Darmstadt, Germany, there is a regular festival of modern music featuring pieces by all the famous modern composers, and I have twice been invited to give sitar recitals there. If I arrive at such a venue one day before my performance, I always make a point of listening to what is going on. On those two occasions in Darmstadt, and at least two other times since, I have noticed that I develop a peculiar problem.From Raga Mala, Ravi Shankar's autobiography (ISBN 1566491045 OP). Other musicians suffer worse than stomach cramps.
It is mystifying how it happens, but I find that when I start hearing those strange sounds or discordant combinations, within a few minutes I feel a stomach cramp, and from stomach cramp I develop a terrible headache and nausea. At first I thought these physical effects were coincidental, and that my suffering was due to some bad food I must have eaten; but it has happened again and again, right up to this day! I feel ashamed of myself, because thousands of people rave about this music. Though I am sure most of them are sincere in their appreciation, one has to wonder whether some are just behaving in a trendy manner, motivated by snobbery. Sometimes I can intellectually appreciate the intelligent combinations used, yet the whole gamut of this modern music, I am embarrassed to admit, is a physical problem to me. I have to try harder, maybe!
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