Monday, January 20, 2014

We Are Finally All InterCultural

It was delightful to run into a young dancer in the locker room today, sporting Alvin Ailey sweatpants.  Was she a student, I asked.  Was she new to the program?  Yes.  It seems she just arrived from Japan where Alvin Ailey's dance is well known and much loved.

What a relief it must be to know that it is OK to love whatever you love in the arts.  Times have changed from when I was young.  Now the problem is rather the reverse of what it was 50 years ago: now it is the Classical style that is necessarily on the defensive after decades of ritual murder at the hands of well-meaning but narrow-minded pedagogues.

My work Tonal Refraction has to do with legitimatizing emotional responses to musical elements, primarily tone (or pitch) itself.  I realized this afternoon as I was riding the bus uptown that in many of his compositions Mozart shifts the emotional content of tones so that they are rarely speaking to a single frame of mind or heart.

In learning to name notes and identify tonal functions we risk losing insight into this mercurial aspect of his, indeed, of every composer's art.

A colleague (1/3 my age!) recently said that he thinks the trouble starts when young children are taught the names of notes, as opposed to just listening to them.  Good point.