Music is only a half of a musical experience

You listened to a piece of music and it touched your soul so deeply it changed your life. Now you are his devoted fan, and can't wait to share this artist's masterpiece with someone. One night a friend comes over to your house and you play one of the artist's CD in excitement of blowing his mind...

The result was not what you expected.
Not only was your friend not impressed and didn't care for it, but he went on to explain how and why he didn't like it, and then thanked you for wasting his time.

In disbelief you accuse your friend for being such an ignorant and unsophisticated person.
Are you kidding me!?
How can you NOT love this music?
How can you NOT get this beauty?
You have no depth, no taste, no sensibility!

A while after your friend stormed out, you begin to wonder.
Could it be me...?
Could it be that I was the one with bad taste?
Could it be that I was the one who was ignorant and unsophisticated?
All of a sudden, you feel your love for this artist and his music fading away...

...The above is kind of an extreme example, but similar stories are happening everywhere in the world. Everyday, someone's wonderful musical experience gets dismissed, dimished and destroyed by someone else's opinion. I have certainly experienced such unpleasant moments.

Dear music lovers, don't get discouraged. Your friend can dislike your favorite artist all he wants, but no one can ever touch your experience of being exposed to the artist's music. It is yours and yours only, and no one could ever experience the same thing.

There is no such thing as universally great music that moves anyone, anytime, anywhere. Why? Because experiencing fine music cannot be determined by the music alone, just like experiencing fine dining cannot be determined by the food alone.

Even if the dish is prepared with the world's best ingredients, skills and presentation, it's still only about a half of the factors that decide the whole experience of having a great dinner. The other half is called circumstances. Is the atmosphere good? Is the server courteous and informative? Are you with someone you love? What stage of life are you in? Are you happy? Are people at the other tables nice? Is it reasonably priced? ...all these things can have great impact on your evening, good or bad.

So you see, your friend did not have the same experience as you'd had, when he listened to your favorite music. He couldn't have. Music was the same, but the circumstances were different. Different place, different time, different stereo, different volume, different company, different age, different state of mind, different person... what can you do?

Musicians need to be humble. We strive for excellence, we put a tremendous amount of effort and time into our "dishes," but we cannot control our listeners' musical experience after all. All we can control is our music. Everything else is circumstantial.

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