Sunday, December 27, 2009

This is about a special kind of listening, the kind that comes via the printed word. Ten years ago I published a little book called What Might It Mean? An Uncommon Glossary of Musical Terms and Concepts for the Stuck, Bored, and Curious. It received glowing praise from Leonard Michaels, whose short stories I knew from The New Yorker magazine.

What I did not know about Mr. Michaels was that he was a scholar of the English language as well as of literature and life (Michaels died in 2003). The same friend who had recommended that I send Michaels a copy of the book gave me for Christmas Michaels' Collected Essays. My reaction after reading two of the essays: No academic degree could mean more to me than having been taken seriously by such an extraordinary sensibility.

If only musicians who claim they know how to read music read notation the way that man read words!