Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Curious Experiment, and some Observations

The Experiment: Joshua Bell's performance of intricate classical music on a Stradivarius violin being ignored at a busy train station in Washington D.C.

The Observations:
  1. Western classical music is, like non-representational painting (such as by Kandinsky), "high art". To properly appreciate high art requires training. More so when the artifact is not well known (e.g. a piece by Bach).

  2. A normal adult's brain is occupied with thoughts, and the thoughts about a particular subject carry on for a longer while than in a child. A child is more interested in what catches its fancy because it is not mentally occupied. Its thinking is less developed. In technical terms, it appreciates the sounds sensually, not cognitively or affectively.

  3. Western classical music requires patience in order to understand its structure, rhythm and theme. Rush hour at a suburban metro station is the last place where one can expect patience.

  4. Small children cannot appreciate Bach, but they can appreciate the playing of a violin, because it looks like a playful, fun activity, and because the sounds generated are out-of-the-ordinary.

  5. To appreciate the world requires a freeing of mental bandwidth, a slow-down in one's thoughts and an absence of stress. These require cultivation in an urban setting, where the natural inclination of human beings is to suffer a cognitive burden.


Anonymous said...

Bach, not well known? because his music has been bastartized in phone tunes and adverts and hindi film songs and several period adaptations in the west.

Harmanjit Singh said...

I would still say that his music, except a rare few very well known segments, will not be recognized by the vast majority of urban population.