Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Playing For Change

This isn't so much a post as a link to the, The BEST version of Stand By Me I have ever heard (perhaps even beating some live ones I've heard.)
Apparently it's by a group called Playing for Change ( they're about to release a CD to benefit their fund to build music and art schools around the world. Huzzah - I'm in!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Joshua Bell can't win

Here's a link to an interesting post in another blog about the time people don't take for beauty. In short, Joshua Bell plays in the subway station one morning and only collects thirty-something dollars. Little kids try to watch him, but everyone else hurries on by, missing one of the most popular violinist of the times playing a free concert on a priceless violin.
What's interesting to me is how quickly the comments under the blog catch on the to the flaw - it was rush hour. In the morning. People had work to get to, and schedules to keep. Little kids don't. Also, how many people really like violin music (other than violinists?) Plenty of people have an appreciation for orchestra but hey, violin by itself can be a little high-pitched for the ears. I certainly wouldn't stop for a piccolo player, unless it was to steal their piccolo so they couldn't play it anymore, and the violin pieces I've seen routinely get up into the stratosphere into that shrill dog-whistle range. They're also right about him playing in the subway and people using it as a qualitative marker. The only reason anyone has heard of him was not because he played in the subway, but because he's played the Met. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of Joshua Bell until he lost his damn violin and a taxi driver returned it, which to me was a black mark on him - who loses their instrument? Anyway, I probably would have been the lone person who stopped and listened - I always stop for string players. It's a solidarity thing, even if most of them are snobby.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stress management and Mozart

Alright, so anyone who knows me knows stress - I'm stressed often. It overwhelms me. It crashes on their beaches like an angry wave of bees sometimes. It's not something I'm proud of, and the stress of knowing that I stress out my friends stresses me out more, etc... You can see how this isn't a good cycle.
At any rate, I'm trying techniques to deal with stress. Fortunately, I'm also involved with choir right now (all that singing and oxygen intake is a great stress reliever) and we're doing Mozart's Requiem. Hence the lead in to the second part of this post: Holy crap was Mozart a troubled man! I don't have a good idea of his life; I've read the play Amadeus once and it struck me as weird. And that's about all I remember of it...don't know details of his life, haven't looked them up, but just listening to his music (and I'm not just talking about Dies Irae, either) it's so....complex and twisted. I believe art comes directly from the person producing it, especially when it's not tainted by marketing. His music shows a lot of strife - the way he transitions chords and structures his phrases; this man had a lot going on in his head. I'm not just saying this coming from someone who's used to Bach and his nice structured transitions. We sang Beethoven's 9th Symphony in choir about 3 years ago and there's just such a difference. Where Beethoven was powerful, Mozart muddles. Where Beethoven used emotional, stirring phrases, Mozart interrupts and throws phrases behind other ones. It's so strange; wasn't Mozart supposed to be the all-time musical genius? Perhaps we like him because he doesn't have a clear point.
It's certainly intriguing. It's also pretty compelling. Mozart was a genius, but as I'm coming to understand, that just means that he had more complex choices and more moral quandaries in life than most people can handle. Intelligence is definitely a gift and a burden - in what parts I don't know.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Life is not a zero-sum game

It's hard to know sometimes, as much as you try to keep other people's points of view in line, what is right. Philosophers have struggled with this question to no successful conclusion; we call it moral relativity and leave it at that. Religion and science both compete for this answer but neither one moves me as a person. Neither one will answer "Should I stay in this relationship or strike out for somethimg better?" or "Do I need to buy better work clothes?" Usually this type of input is left to friends and family, but what if those support structures aren't there? What if they perpetuate bad systems of thought like abuse or self-neglect?
We don't have a net for people who learn too late that the tools they've been given in life don't do the jobs they need. Supposedly, you're supposed to be able to figure this kind of thing out on your own, but I don't buy that conclusion, either. Life is too short to try and figure this out alone, yet that's really the only choice. Perhaps I just need to find friends at the same stage of life that I'm in, which is hard because I'm unmarried, no kids, and atypically smart. And whiney...did I mention that?