Created by Patrick Grant, a New York City-based American composer, International Strange Music Day is celebrated annually on August 24th in an attempt to encourage musicians to step outside of their comfort zone and to experiment with different styles and genres. In an odd twist, Grant, whose music contains elements of classical music, pop, world music, post-punk, and ambient music, originally conceived of this holiday as a way of promoting an upcoming albums. Finding it difficult to find a label that was willing to distribute his 1997 album, “Field Amaze.” Grant decided to create his own label which he called “Strange Music.” In honor of his mentor’s birthday, Grant went on a number of message boards to declare that August 24th would hereby be recognized as Strange Music Day.
Within a few years this bizarre holiday has begun picking up steam, By 2002 the event had a strong following in smaller venues around the world and by 2012, the first Strange Music Performance Soiree was held at Spectrum in Brooklyn, New York. The holiday continues to this day with with the goal of getting people to play and listen to music that may be unique, unfamiliar, or bizarre. As English musician Robert Fripp said about the holiday, “This is a day to stretch our ears, listen without prejudice, and…create new music.”
The phrase “listening without prejudice” is a core concept for this holiday. Grant believed that broadening people’s musical horizons could lead to changes in the way they look at other aspects of life. Trying to see things from a different perspective is an excellent way to stimulate the mind, especially in younger musicians. This year, we encourage everybody to try listening to some new and unusual music, or create something yourself. Forget about the standard musical genres, and dive into something new like Pirate Metal, Math Rock, Lowercase, Folktronica, Cute Metal, Witch House, German Reggae, Black MIDI, Vaporwave, Skweee or anything else you can find online.
There’s no reason a blend of folk and metal should work, but there are Pirate Metal bands with massive fan bases. Also known as impossible music, Black MIDI includes sounds that would be impossible for any musician to play by hand. In fact, if Black MIDI music was written in standard music notation, the compositions would be almost entirely black!
Regardless of whether or not you’re a musician, anybody can celebrate International Strange Music Day. Get out of your comfort zone and listen to something out of the ordinary. Search for new musical genres on Spotify or take a trip down to your local record store. You might not always like what you hear, but trying something new is one of the best ways to think differently and find inspiration.
his blog post is part of a series linked to our Music Celebrations Around the World calendar. Download the calendar for access to information about musical celebrations and holidays with strong musical components to share in your music classroom or with your ensemble members! Music + Travel = Encore Tours.