'Doing His Music'? -- I'm Doing My Nut

See if the following snatch of dialogue rings any bells with you. 

Well-meaning acquaintance: "And how's So-and-so? Is he still doing his music?" 

Polite partner of musician: "Oh yes, he'll always be working on that." 

Doing his music? Doing his music? Why does that phrase blast a chill into my soul? 
I suppose it's partly because the verb just sounds wrong when applied to such an intangible means of self-expression as music. I mean, you can 'do' just about anything else. For example, 

  • the dishes; 
  • a job; 
  • homework; 
  • up your trousers 

...and with 'do', there's definitely a connotation of detached engagement in whatever activity it is. You wouldn't feel as though you're expressing your inner self while doing up your trousers -- although, granted, there may be a few happy sprites whose idea of nirvana is to yank up their zip-fly -- and you don't necessarily feel that your job is what defines you as a person. 

But music? 

Music isn't 'done' like a tiled wall. Music is conceived, or dreamed, or created, or played, or made; it's imagined, or composed, or arranged, or performed. None of those verbs should carry an overtone of detachment when you apply them to music -- in fact, if you're making music in a detached manner, you shouldn't be making music at all; try gutting fish instead. 

Another reason why I find the phrase 'doing his music' so maddening is what it suggests about the person using it. This is purely subjective, but I feel that anyone who thinks music is something you 'do' also thinks that ecstasy is just the name of a drug, and passion is only a word you sometimes stick at the front of 'fruit'. 

It suggests to my ear that that person has never been brought to blushing-point by an exciting melody, and wouldn't recognise transcendence if it wafted them into the tropopause. 

It also suggests that that person has put you in a small-talk filing-tray in their minds, with a handy one-word tag sticking up, so that they can remember to ask you about that word whenever your paths cross: this person, 'fretwork'; that person, 'music'. 

Look at it another way: imagine your first love is pure mathematics, and you're out there pushing the boundaries of abstract algebra & topology, and friends of your family keep asking, "is he still doing his sums?". 

See what I'm getting at?
Honestly, I'd much rather people said: "tell me again what it is you do, I've forgotten". 

Because then I could tell them, "what do I do? The dishes, mostly." 


1 comment

  • Carole
    Carole England
    Hee hee!

    Hee hee!

Add comment