So what moves me as a musician? Words that come to mind: textures, evocative, melody, emotion, dissonance, harmony, layers...
Growing up we had an upright piano - first in the living room, later in my bedroom. It had three pedals. The leftmost was the una corda (mute), the rightmost the sustain. And the middle one? It was broken. No, I should say it had some non-intended features.
When you stepped on it, it would cause all the hammers to randomly lurch - some of them striking the strings. I remember very clearly as a child holding down the sustain pedal and pounding on that middle pedal creating seas of motion. My ear would play connect-the-sonic-dots and I was endlessly fascinated with the resulting improvised melodies.
No doubt it also drove my parents INSANE. *heh*
I've long been fascinated by sonic textures. Perhaps it's due to my synesthesia, but I find love music that has lots of layers and complexity - music you can almost reach out and touch, that brush your ear and you can feel dozens of little nuggets of sound.
I love that the digital age has brought us easier ways to incorporate found sound, synthesized sounds, and all sorts of crazy things into music. In the sonic paintings of Xiu Xiu there's often at least one layer of sonic chaos - not-quite-musical events that add a distinct patina.
Bjork and her ilk - especially a variety of Iceland/Northern European scenes - are drawing in a lot more every day sounds: footsteps, things creaking and breaking, dropping, whirring, crunching... And then there's bands like Owl City, Postal Service/Death Cab for Cutie who just draw from a dizzying array of *types* of sounds - swoopy, thin, fuzzy, crisp...
I LOVE IT.
Stepping into the classical world there are composers who I adore. You have the elder gods: Bach, Palestrina, Monteverdi. Amazing forms and structural complexities. Melodies chasing each other, bouncing off each other... Give me a good fugue and I can be brought to tears.
Then you have the gods of the more modern age: Mahler, Stravinsky, Sch÷berg, Webern. Another century turned and the harmonic landscape gained a richer and broader, deeper and darker, more wrought and tortured spectre. The comfy and fluffy harmonies of the classical era gave way to a much more austere and jagged beauty. Contrast with Debussy and Ravel - dreamy, life in the hazy twighlight of fantasy landscapes.
Closing out the 20th century and moving into the 21st composers like George Crumb, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Sophia Gubaidalina have taken composition to even deeper sonic painting extremes. Melody and accompaniment have given way to gestures. The winds mumble and tumble around each other. The strings cry like dying angels...
[For other classical musician freaks, clearly these are more generalized statements]
Beyond all that? Well, music is an amazingly expansive world. Lately I've been exploring more of the jazz world. Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms, Coltrane's harmonies... Teaching myself sax, studying oboe, expanding my flute playing. Those are just a few of the recent endeavors.
I will never stop until I die, I hope.