Friday, May 30, 2003

Life is confusing sometimes, but you know things can't be all bad when there are Asterix t-shirts to be found online. That brightened my day yesterday.

Music is good, too. This week I get to go to free concerts four days in a row. It's end of the year recital time at Stanford, so there's all sorts of good music to be heard. Last night I got to hear a former TA of mine playing a few pieces of recently composed music, which was interesting though not entirely comprehensible. But I consider that pretty good for "new" music. Speaking of comprehensibility, though, I tend to be frustrated with my ability to comprehend even more traditional, classical music sometimes. I think a lot of it may be a scale thing. My musical brain was raised on 32 bar folk tunes, so keeping track of what's going on in, say, a half-hour Beethoven sonata is difficult for me. I often find that while I enjoy the music moment by moment, I have trouble getting a good sense of the piece as a whole. But I also find that I understand things much better once I can play them, so I think the problem is also in my ear. Going back to folk music again, I think that though I was generally learning things by ear, I was in effect learning a fiddle style really well, more than training my ear skills, so it actually doesn't seem to apply very readily to other forms of music. Also, my ear trained a lot on much simpler music than the sort of stuff I want to understand these days. Excuses, excuses.

Anyway, I bring all this up because I had a somewhat different experience at the piano recital I went to this afternoon. The first piece was one of those half-hour Beethoven sonatas, number 15 in D major. But for some reason, I felt like I got a much better sense of coherence and meaning out of it than I ever do with pieces of that size. Not only within movements but I even felt connections between movements to some extent. I don't know if it was just a particularly accessible sonata, a particularly good performance, or a particularly good day for my brain, but it was fascinating. My mind didn't even wander at all, which generally happens somewhat no matter how good my intentions. It's sort of hard to describe really how I felt. Of course, I didn't understand it all the way someone would who's been studying this stuff for years and years, but it was a significant difference from how I usually hear things, so I thought that was rather interesting. I wonder if I can get it to happen again.

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