What kind of music do you like? This is a common enough question, and usually pretty easy to answer. Most people have pretty definite opinions about what they like and don't like. Now, I would like you to consider a different question. Why do you like the music that you do?
It may not be hard to answer this in a very general way. Perhaps, you will respond by saying that it has a good beat or a nice melody. The funny thing is that if you ask your parents or grandparents these same questions they may come up with very different kinds of music, but claim similar reasons for enjoying it.
Music is kind of like food. We often avoid foods that we haven't acquired a taste for, while other foods become comfort foods that we turn to during times of stress or when we want to feel a certain way.
I see nothing wrong with enjoying foods or music that make us feel comfortable, but it can be very limiting and dull if we don't also challenge ourselves from time to time.
One of my favorite places for challenging my musical taste buds is the blog Startling Moniker. Here you will find intelligent reviews about strange, exotic and very experimental musical recordings. You can usually follow the links if you want to hear some samples of what is being discussed.
The author of this blog is the host of a radio show devoted to experimental music. He really knows his field and provides insightful commentary.
If you already have an interest in experimental music, I probably don't need to say anything else. You may want to head over there now and ignore the rest of this review. If, however, you are a little scared or suspicious of experimental music, you may need some gentle coaxing.
I won't pretend that I enjoy all experimental music. There's a lot that I don't like, but I'm highly in favor of the concept of experimenting with music. Much of the popular music that we hear today is pretty formulaic. It plays upon cultural expectations and is designed to produce a generally pleasant sensation in a large audience.
Experimental music, however, asks questions. What if we alter or eliminate certain commonly accepted elements of music? The results can be sublime, interesting, or unspeakably dreadful. Either way, the process is informative. You learn about music, but more importantly, you learn about yourself. It can be liberating to brake free from the cultural conditioning that surrounds us. It can be enlightening to discover music that is compatible with your own unique personality, rather than the lowest common denominator of your peer group.
Since I fancy myself a composer of experimental music, I place great value on my continuing musical education. I have music that makes me comfortable, but I intentionally spend time listening to music that I am unfamiliar with or even dislike. Sometimes my opinions change. Sometimes they are reinforced. Music is, for me, an amazing journey of self discovery.
I hope you will consider a similar journey through the realm of musical possibilities. I can recommend Startling Moniker as a good place to start.