"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
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Blog // Sounds
September 8, 2008

Pearls Before Breakfast

This article is over a year old, but worth revisiting. The Washington Post reports on what happened when Joshua Bell, one of the world’s foremost violinists took to the challenge of busking, anonymously in a rush hour train station. Bell played some inspiring and challenging solo pieces and the indifference with which he was met […]

This article is over a year old, but worth revisiting. The Washington Post reports on what happened when Joshua Bell, one of the world’s foremost violinists took to the challenge of busking, anonymously in a rush hour train station. Bell played some inspiring and challenging solo pieces and the indifference with which he was met is a sober reminder of the way we can overlook beauty in our everyday lives and the extent to which packaging (or a lack thereof) can effect our response to music.

Responses
Toni 14 years ago

I rather suspect that music is a lot like sex. You have to be a little up for it – a little expectant and a little hopeful. However it seems likely that using a violin on Joe-public is a bit like trying to sell a girlie mag with a monochrome cover that only hints at the delights underneath – only a properly expectant and cultivated will be perceptive enough to take note.

And like sex, music has it’s own time and place. The iPod/walkman habit has made music in public a private experience, where you’re cocooned in your own private enjoyment, rather than sharing pleasure with others. And stations are all about being somewhere else.

Enough justification. I’ll try to read the piece later.

Toni 14 years ago

Read the article.

Bingo.

Fernando Gros 14 years ago

Toni, so if music is like sex, then what kind of sex is iPodding like?

:-0

OK, don’t answer that!

I suspect you are right though that context and receptivity play a big part in how we respond to music. But, on a theoretical level there’s a lot said about the power of art to break into the mundane, about the compelling nature of genius and so on that this experiment (flawed as it might be) problematises.

Toni 14 years ago

While art may have power to break into the mundane, the mundane needs to actually be aware of the art before it can be broken into. Most of us are focussed on what we’re doing, and as a result we heavily filter out distractions. I’d suggest that a major reason he wasn’t noticed by people that might have appreciated him was that their filters were heavily in place. Commuting in the US first thing in the morning is probably not an experience that would make you want to exten your senses and drink in the environment.

Maybe this should preface the sex argument – when we anticipate something pleasurable then we drop the filters and open our receptiveness to let it in. Otherwise we are actively shutting out our surroundings to a greater or lesser degree.

This might also be what drives some to want to surround themselves with wilderness, away from other humans – they can live there with their senses unfiltered. I rather understand: my life on the WWW feels like one long filter session sometimes, and it’s stressful. I want to be among those that are ‘right’ who don’t require filtration and buffering away from me – people I can trust and not protect myself from.

From a different angle, this is one of the things that’s stopped me reading a lot of theology. It all gets too much, having to continually filter the good from the not so good from the downright wrong. I’ve even found myself doing it with books from ‘sound’ authors (Derek Prince springs to mind). So much nicer to enjoy a good meal instead of having to pick through the fat, gristle and bone to find some good meat.

Where were we? Ah yes, filters.

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