Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Support Non-Conformity Wherever You Find It

Like the honeybees editorialized in this mornings NYTimes, nonconformists in every field are in danger of extinction.  Support a nonconformist today, any nonconformist.  Buy a ticket.  Go to a concert.  Buy a book of poems.

Pay for your ticket on this ride: www.tonalrefraction.com/

Sound Like a Pro vs. Feel LIke an Artist

Sounding like a pro is all too easy, given the many recordings that sound more or less alike -- and increasingly I notice this to be the case.  I test this thesis by listening at random to WQXR.  Yesterday I heard by chance a recording of some generic symphonic work played generically by some generic orchestra.  Having no idea it was QXR (it was being played in a waiting room) I had some trouble entering my experimental mode and found myself simply annoyed.

Later I ran into a dedicated amateur cellist who, in the space of a three-minute walk, unwittingly put his finger on the problem:  Too much of the time amateurs are coached as if their goal should be to sound like professionals, i.e., to treat the music as an object that can be mastered, or at least played "correctly."  These amateurs are not given credit for having responses of their own to every element of their playing: not just the notes and the rhythms, but their rapport with their specific instruments, and with one another.

Too many pros have to restrain themselves when it comes to such individual responses, their job being to sound like the generic recording of generic Beethoven.  Amateurs are blessed in that they may give full rein to their individual responses thus feeling like the artists we all crave to be--perhaps I should alter that a bit to read: "the artists we all might realize we crave to be were it not for the increasing pressure to conform to norms imposed by commercialization."   Writers call this the censorship of the marketplace.