Monday, July 26, 2010

Savoring Music

Inspired by this great piece from the Washington Post:

As Dostoyevsky so poetically phrased it: "Beauty will save the world". A quote that became the motto of Serbian tennis star Janko Tipsarevic, and also one my personal favorites. As a humble student of music, I believe music creates a rare phenomena with the ability to bring together the most different of people. The appreciation and creation of which does not require one to be educated in anyway. It is story telling without boundaries that transcends above anything else.

We really do live in a special time in the history of music, where the commercialization of this art has allowed inferior "musicians" to make a living in the scene. The likes of which are common place in modern society where visual flare has crept it's way into what was simply appreciated by the ears just a few decades ago. Though, I would find it far fetched to call it a crisis in what has become of people's taste in music. Yet, in the case where a world class violinist was ignored by 99% of a rush hour crowd, it's hard to not notice the obvious implication.

Is it really the case that most people are unable to appreciate quality music these days? I would not think so. I believe the issue isn't so much people's inability to appreciate a piece of timeless music, but the impatience most of us have developed through this fast paced life style as a byproduct of the leaps and bounds in technological advances we have made in recent years.

We have become a society that is ever so content to be fed, rather than feed oneself. Entertainment all comes in a nice package presented so it's easily consumed and just as easily expires. We take and grab hold of what is closest to us, and few of us ever venture much further.

I remember the days before MP3s were rampant when most of us paid for music, I would listen to the same songs over and over again. I knew the entire Smashing Pumpkin Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album forwards and backwards like the back of my hand. It was a bit insane how I knew pretty much every detail in every track. I find myself doing less and less of that since the day I downloaded my first mp3 (Blur - Song 2). I still find myself putting songs I really like on repeat, but I don't think I could compare it to the days of tapes and CDs.

Classical music has become niche market. As is jazz, blues and the other types of music that requires patience to appreciate. I remember attending a Evgeny Kissin piano concert a while ago. World class pianist, amazing technique and interpretation. One of the best I've heard live. I paid $25 for a floor seat, and the crowd was also at least 20 years older than me on average. Quite astonishing really. You could also tell that, when glancing around during a piece, the crowd was there to appreciate the music. There was no lights or smoke or some fancy big video screen, just a Steinway grand piano and a pianist. The excitement was in the intricately planned execution of a piece of timeless music by a supreme musician. Unfortunately, not exactly the kind of concert your average 20 something friend would want to go to these days.

Perhaps if we all slowed down a bit these days, have some patience, and start to savor the little things in life is when we'll start to appreciate more. Until then, I'll enjoy my cheap tickets to go see world class musicians.