Sunday, April 22, 2007

Good Musical Experiment

The article is a little long and takes itself a little seriously, but this Washington Post article about a social experiment regarding music is still interesting.


Anonymous said...

I wilt at the prospect of thanking you sufficiently for referring me to that article. I was moved beyond words. Beyond even the outcome and analysis, the fact that there are people, a respected news organization, even so much as thinking along these lines, is nothing short of remarkable to me.


Anonymous said...

The "experiment", while an interesting anecdote, doesn't teach us anything:

a) The violin make doesn't matter when you are playing essentially in a fully live room with all kinds of stone surfaces.

b) Bell may be a superstar for a small community but hardly known to the general populace -- let alone from mere appearance!

c) The music is hardly popular in the sense that relatively few people in the general populace can discern Mozart from Beethoven from Schubert.

And remember, in today's overly saturated world of sights and sounds (thanks advertising industry!), we have learned to tune most of it out to get on with our day.

The piece does smack of a pretentious academic crying about the lost culture of our world.

And I happen to like classic music and I still got that feel!

Perhaps if the experiment was Paul McCartney (someone recognizable) playing "Yesterday" (a recognizable song) on an acoustic guitar, you would have seen a crowd grow.

Guess what? The Beatles did do that "experiment" by playing a free concert on the *roof* of their recording studio in London. The traffic snarls that resulted caused the bobbies to shut down the free concert. (You can see the footage at the end of LET IT BE.)

When I lived in Boston, there was a black woman who used to play a guitar, day-after-day-after-day in the subway stop near my home. I thought she was rather ordinary. I never gave her any money. Then one day she vanished. A few months later, I was flipping through CDs at Tower Records and suddenly saw her face.

The woman was Tracy Chapman.

Maybe if it had been Paul McCartney playing "Yesterday", I would have paid more attention...

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Here's a pretty straightforward musical experiment. You're on the subway in New York and suddenly: singing. How would you react?

Below is a link to copy into your browser that should take you to a YouTube video I enjoyed:

Bondelev said...

> You're on the subway in New York and suddenly: singing.

They are awkward at the beginning but get better. They need to get their act together if they do this regularly.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

True, the group singing is hardly flawless, but the interesting part of the video, to me, was watching the responses of the other passengers. One woman obviously got into the spirit, almost all of the others were won over by the end of the song, but, most amusing was the guy who flat out refused even to turn around and acknowledge the singers. There's an idea for a sociology/psychology master's thesis in there somewhere!

Bondelev said...

Speaking of which,there was a good article in the LA TIMES health section on Monday about the health benefits of singing. I've often remarked how strange it is in America that social singing is actually looked down upon in America, whereas most cultures sing for pleasure all the time. The article points out quite accurately when you remove religion (church chorus) and alcohol (karaoke), singing disappears from our lives, and with it, musical expression entirely for most people.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

Great article! But it's interesting that not only social singing has been lost in our culture. We've managed to limit all the arts to the "specialists" -- the people with "talent" or those who are deluded into believing that they have talent, e.g. many American Idol contestants. I think it's a shame because everyone should be able to enjoy making music, singing, dancing, drawing and painting without being inhibited and without thinking about them as a path to fame and fortune. I bet if we searched for more medical studies, we'd find that they're all good for your health.

Bondelev said...

I totally agree. In the modern US, you are expected to be an expert on one thing, and unless you are an expert, you are not allowed to even try to do it. As much as I enjoy sports, it's an overly competitive mentality. Everyone should be happy to engage in whatever they enjoy, no matter how good or bad they are.