I Hate Music (And That is OK)

by Sandra on December 7

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And that doesn’t make me a bad person. Nor does it make me a psychopath, insane, deaf, or boring.

It also doesn’t mean that I just “haven’t found the right music yet”.

Most people use music to feel good, or to evoke other feelings. They listen to sad songs when they are heartbroken, put on some high tempo music to exercise, some video game music to concentrate, and so on.

The reaction of our wonderful editor here at Spiraling Up, Amy, to the news that I was going to write an article called “I hate music” was that she had “deep ideological objections” to it. She is in a band called Dr. Martino and music is a way of life for her.

I love Amy, and can appreciate her point of view usually, but her reaction is exactly the reason why I wanted to write this article.

 Science of hating music

According to scientists there is a gene that causes this anomaly, and about 1 to 5 percent of the population have it. So I am not alone. It is called musical anhedonia, and while normally the lack of enjoying pleasurable experiences can be tied in with depression, in this case, there is nothing wrong with us.

We music-haters can get enjoyment out of other things, like making money, seeing a nice painting, or enjoying the beautiful view on a nice beach at sunset. It is just music that literally leaves us cold.

Music is just one thing

Although grudgingly, most music lovers will accept that not everybody likes classical music, trance, or country. They’ll still try to convince others to just try it, and to listen to just that one song, but it is still mostly acceptable to like something else.

Music is something that people feel passionate about, yet (to my knowledge) people haven’t killed each other over it. They have over other differences that are equally difficult to understand, like religion, which soccer club to support, and who you can or should love. If we can learn to accept our differences for something we are passionate about like music, maybe we can also learn to accept other type of differences.

Problem with not accepting differences

Not liking music at all is something that most people cannot wrap their heads around. And that is exactly where the danger is. You are making judgment on other people’s experiences from your own perspective, which is a flawed premise.

The saying goes to “not judge someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes*” and that is a great saying. However, it is almost impossible for a music lover to shift their perspective to one of a person who doesn’t care about music at all because it is so far out of their experience. The same goes for different religions, sexual preferences and sport clubs, just to mention a few.

The only answer, then, is to accept without understanding.

Accepting without understanding

This is admittedly one of the hardest things I ever had to learn. It is easier to accept things when you can shift your perspective to understand their point of view, even if you might disagree. For example, I am not a vegetarian, but I can shift my perspective (LINK?) to see how animal abuse could be more important than the delicious taste of bacon. Or how they might be healthier when not eating meat. When I do that, I can see the world through their eyes for a bit and understand how they came to make that choice and can therefore easily accept it.

When the experience is so far out of your own worldview that it is impossible to understand, like hating music, you have a choice. You can either accept the fact that someone else is different, or you cannot, and you try to change their minds and opinions.

In my opinion, accepting the differences in other people, even and especially when you do not understand them, creates a more peaceful inner and outer world.

Yes, it really is ok to hate music

Amy mentioned that for her, music is a spiritual teacher, and a number one PD go-to when she wants to feel good. I know that is true for her and a lot of other people, and even though it is not the same for me, I can accept that.

And I know, because she is a great person, she can accept me liking silence better than music, even though she doesn’t understand where I am coming from.

For me, I’ll just patiently keep explaining to people that I don’t really care for music, or when I don’t want to be bothered, just tell them I like “pop” music and hope they don’t continue to ask which type of pop.

And every time someone asks me about it, I’ll use it as a reminder to myself to accept other people as they are, without needing to understand.

What is something about you that you wish people would just accept, without needing to explain or having them try to change you?

*(because that way, when you do judge them, you are a mile away, and have their shoes)

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Sandra

Sandra is a 33 year old mother, wife, life coach. As a Dutch national living in Mexico she is trying to find ways to make most out of life. She’s passionate about simplifying life, yet loves her luxuries and non-minimalistic lifestyle.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Sim December 7, 2015 at 6:52 am

I can understand that.

Although I cannot say I “hate music” I also cannot say I am a huge lover of it.

I go through phases, but I am not one that religiously listens to music. I can go months and months without listening to it (like at the moment). But when I do get into a music phase I tend to listen to a song over and over again for hours on end. It’s quite odd.

It’s really odd, because my father is a huge music lover and I grew up around classical music (like literally my dad worked in a orchestra and I was surrounded by musicians).

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Simone December 8, 2015 at 9:36 am

Thank you Sandra for this fascinating perspective. It really got me thinking of the nature of art and aesthetic experience. And before my “but,” I assure you that I accept you and many others who simply don’t get off on righteous jams.

However, I have to whole-heartedly disagree with this view, being a biased musician myself. I disagree because I understand “music” as so much more than an aural or strickly listening artform. For example, do you enjoy film, opera or musical theater? Much of the emotional response provoked by those art forms is indebted to music. Or what about lyric music, which can be as literary as it is musical? In live performance, musicians often create a dramatic and visual splendor. Being that music is synaesthetic, how can then a person be scientifically disposed to “hate” all of it? The discussion moves past musical anhedonia if we consider the term “music” with a broader definition.

Nonetheless, I really enjoyed your article because it made me think and I hope, likely in vain, that you will reconsider! Hate is such a strong word. 🙂

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Yann February 17, 2016 at 5:56 am

Dear Sandra,

Thank you so much for writing this article.

I’ve been struggling with this for the past two years or so.
I just don’t like Music, and it’s not because I am depressed or something. I feel like all my life (I’m 28 now) I was forced to listen to it.
I am depressed though, because I feel like I can tell no one about my real Feelings about music because no one would understand.

I don’t wanna listen to it while driving my car, I don’t wanna listen to it while drawing, I don’t wanna have a huge home Theater hooked up to my TV and I don’t wanna listen to it while talking to People.
All These activities are totally rewarding by itself and I feel like music does only distract me from enjoying it, from really being there. Unfortunately, everyone seems to go crazy when there is no music on, they literally panic.
So what happened is that they started making me feel bad about wanting some quite. That’s gone on for way to Long, and now that I finally cut ties to all These People I still feel horrible about not wanting to listen to it. It seems like I’ve been brainwashed…

However, just reading this article gives me strength, just because I knowing that you are not the only one is total relief.

Why is it so hard for so many of us to just be with the silence? It’s sooooooo nice and Relaxing, but no one seems to care about it :-/.

Regards,

Yann

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Sandra February 18, 2016 at 9:20 am

Thank you for your comment. Exactly for people like you (and me) I wrote this article. Too many people think we are crazy, or depressed or “haven’t found the right music yet”.
It is ok not to like something, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Maybe next time people are giving you a hard time, share this article with them. Hopefully they’ll start to understand, or even if they don’t understand, at least accept.

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gail February 17, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Interesting perspective. I can actually kind of see both sides. I love (like really love) music – but I have a great appreciation for silence as well. It’s not hard for me to be in silence at all, but my husband likes the radio on ALL THE TIME. That gets annoying sometimes.

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Sandra February 18, 2016 at 9:27 am

Yes! I hate it when something has to be on all the time. Some houses here in Mexico have the tv on all the time, even if nobody is watching. So you are visiting someone, and they have the tv on as background noise…

I can deal with people who want to have music in the car, but if I’m driving and it is my car…. Let’s just talk 🙂

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Omar March 14, 2017 at 12:49 am

I have mixed feelings about music, and also about the media required to listen to it.
I have discovered, after reading this article, that I have been listening to music because I am actually depressed and I want to avoid reality while listening to it.

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