Amplified Observations: Music isn’t a playing field, it’s a garden

This column was my closest attempt to describe music as a whole, while entering into the subject through a specific talking point. Since I was pretty much describing what music means to me, there is a lot of hyperbolic, flowery language that attempt to capture emotions.

Above all, this was mainly an experiment to see how distracted I could make a piece with it still conveying its main points.

Along with my jazz piece, this is among my favorite columns.

Art created for the sake of competition is not art at all.

It’s nothing more than an avenue of victory through narcissism, and art, which includes the wonderful assortment of what we call music, fails to possess the ability to attain victory. It only holds the potential to affect, but not conquer, our spirits and to subsequently influence our own creations.

To recognize and appreciate an artist’s music is one posit, but to compare their work to someone else’s creation is an entirely different and undoubtedly unfair type of criticism. In my time of writing this column, I’ve made my best, deliberate effort to avoid rating the music I write about on any sort of uniform scale, not because it could not easily be done, but rather because there is no sensible point to it, to act as if music is a massive competition.

Each musical composition, each set of lyrics and each emotional meaning deserves to be viewed as a single work of art, no matter how sophisticated or vulgar, no matter how well produced or primitive. Whether it sounds as elegant as Of Montreal or as crass as Crass, musical works are most fairly judged upon their own excellence rather than contrasted to the excellence of unrelated brainchildren.

Music is not a high school football game where self-important scouts sit in the stands and relay to their superiors who will dominate the field for years to come. If the medium were any sort of sport, it might be closest to youth soccer, where winning is not the goal, but rather where enjoyment and positive sublimation are emphasized to the delight of the folding-chair spectators.

Even so, music as a conceptual whole is less of a sport or arena of competition, and is more of a garden. From the roots of musical ideas, imported suburban flora emerges from the topsoil of the mind and sprouts into the sonic reality of the air. Sure, initially these ideas must make it out of the suppressive ground of self-doubt and labor, but the green stalks of creation and the flowers that bud from them more often than not find their way toward the sun.

When someone observes a garden, they hardly ever compare each rose to one another and, likewise, the roses are equally as uncaring in being the most brilliant of the bunch. They are merely presenting their true selves to the universe and the beings of the universe who not only actively seek the most vibrant and beautiful ones but also the ones in which they see the most of themselves. For one person, a pink rose might be their favorite, for another, a red rose and for a melancholy soul, possibly a withering one. Yet, all of these roses form a collective garden, able to be enjoyed or used as catharsis for all.

A rose follows its natural course of growth, unconcerned with being the best and most loved of its kind, and so should music and the people who create it.

Luke Furman is a sophomore studying journalism and a reporter for The Post. Do you agree that music should not be a competition? Tweet him @LukeFurmanOU or email him at


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