Tunes From Two Worlds
I remember my mother's surprise at seeing the new addition to my record collection. Resting among a full set of Beethoven symphonies, a Brahms violin concerto, Prokofiev's ''Classical Symphony,'' and other conservative selections was Pink Floyd's ''Dark Side of the Moon.'' Being in college had obviously broadened my musical interests.
''I can't believe you like that stuff,'' she sniffed. ''I can't stand Pink Floyd.''
''Oh, yeah?'' I could hardly believe my ears. She had heard of Pink Floyd before? ''Why don't you like Pink Floyd?''
''Jason Kozma put Pink Floyd stickers all over the windowsill in his apartment, and it took me two days to soak it all off.''
''So, you don't like Pink Floyd because one of your tenants ruined some nice woodwork?''
''Well, it wasn't that nice,'' she confessed.
Ours had always been an extremely conservative household when it came to music. Both of my parents were classical musicians, and I grew up with the understanding that there were, at the most basic level, two kinds of music: ''Good'' and ''That Awful Stuff.'' ''Good Music'' was not limited to Classical; it included Baroque, Romantic, Impressionist, Neo-Classical, and works by several early 20th-century composers. And until I was well into my teenage years, these were the only kinds of music I knew.
Gradually my tastes expanded to include the Doobie Brothers, Huey Lewis and the News, the Michael Stanley Band, and other popular groups, although I certainly wouldn't have openly admitted this to my parents. While rock music was not exactly forbidden in the house, it definitely met with disapproval. Why would anyone want to listen to Queen if they could listen to Wagner instead? How could the local rock radio station possibly compare with the selections of National Public Radio? Why would anyone want to watch a music video on MTV when they could see ''La Traviata'' on PBS?
As an adult, I've played music in my house that has shifted significantly away from what is commonly called classical music toward a more thorough mix of B.B. King, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Billy Joel, and Fats Waller. And I admit to liking them.
Actually, some of my mother's reasons for not liking rock have always been very similar to my own opinion of opera: It's too screechy, and no one can understand any of the words. Another criticism of rock music has been that it's too repetitive and that the harmonies are tediously simple; this description actually fits Haydn and Mozart, in my opinion, with their ho-hum, predictable sonata form.
But when I attended a Pink Floyd concert recently, my mother was curious about it. Not curious enough to listen to my album, mind you, but just curious enough to ask about the concert.
''Well, a rock concert is a lot different than going to a symphony concert, you know,'' I told her.
''It is?'' Her eyes widened.
I thought she was kidding. ''Of course,'' I said.
''What's different about it?''
''For one thing, there are no ushers the way there are at a symphony concert.''
''No ushers? But who passes out the programs?'' She wasn't kidding.
I laughed. ''You don't get programs at a rock concert.''
''No programs? But how does everyone know what they're playing?''
''Well, everyone's been listening to their music for years, and they know all of it. That's not so different from a symphony concert, really.''
She agreed. She wanted to know what else was different.
''Oh, lots of things. You know how at a symphony concert everyone sits down for the music and then stands up at intermission and walks around?'' I said. ''At a rock concert, they stand up through all the music and sit down for the intermission.
''And, of course, at a rock concert there are policemen everywhere, watching everyone. But this concert was pretty uneventful.''
Fresh shock waves swept over my mother with each new revelation.
''And guess what all the band members were wearing?'' I prompted.
''Ohhhhh,'' she said with a shudder. ''I couldn't begin to imagine.''
''Why, they were all dressed in suits and ties, of course. Or at least most of them.''
This seemed to be the most difficult for her to believe.
''You mean you've never been to another kind of a concert before?'' I asked.
''Well,'' she said, ''years ago, we went to see Peter, Paul, and Mary. But that's not really pop music. Is that pop music?''
''I'm not sure you would call it pop -- it's really folk music, I suppose.''
''Folk. That's it. But,'' she said, ''I knew it wasn't classical, because, you know -- there were a lot of people there.''
But just what is classical music? In ''rock-music years,'' Pink Floyd has been around for a very long time. I read recently that more copies of ''Dark Side of the Moon'' were sold than any other album before or since. If you ask me, this album fits right in with the rest of my collection.