Music of Paradox

Published Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I first saw evidence of this paradox in the mid 90s.

I liked playing Tetris (the brick game?) on a monochrome 486 computer at our practice place and I had reached a ceiling in my best score. The game gets progressively faster and harder and though I had a high score try as might I couldn’t really cross it. I had crappy first generation Sony in ear headphones which isolated me in a cocoon but that alone didn’t help me focus apart from keeping some distractions away.

One day I was listening to Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace” as my fingers tapped the keys trying to get blocks to pile in rows of 4 till I destroyed them with a single horizontal line block. Those familiar with “Hanger 18” know it has two parts, first the vocal bit then a complex heavy jam.

I hit my usual high score at the transition in to the heavy part and just kept going smashing my highest score, it was like hyperspace and I was on warp speed 9.9. The blocks were just falling in the right place my fingers possessed in a trance, banging away with the precision of a Neil Peart drum solo. When the song ended so did my run leaving behind a legacy score I would never beat.

The paradox is that the heavy thrash metal song should have been distracting but instead I got locked in like never before. It’s like methylphenidate and ADHD. I don’t think this happens with everyone and certainly not with every type of music but for me it was a revelation of what heavy music is for me – at times of tension heavy aggressive music calms me down, that’s a paradox.