Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Conscious Listening / Seeing

A close friend, a painter / amateur recorder player, commented on how hard it is to listen consciously to an extended musical structure.

I recalled an exhibition of Canaletto at the Met, to which I dragged her a few years ago.  There was a huge canvas of the Grand Canal in which one could easily get lost. Rather than try to take it in she chose more politely scaled works on another wall.  Staying put with clouds, reflections, the Venetian scene with its many busy, little people, I noticed in the lower right-hand corner, a facade that jutted out from its neighbors sufficiently to allow a man to piss against the wall.  Amused, I went to call her attention to this detail, then wandered off.

After a few minutes she fetched me back to the Grand Canal, positioned me directly behind the otherwise offensive figure, and pointed out that this was the proper vantage point from which to take in the entire gigantic panorama.  

My untrained eye had spotted the joke; her trained eye knew what to make of it.