Saturday, January 7, 2012

Sit Up And Take Notice

Music never repeats itself.

Daniel Barenboim
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Hello Holly
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Just as in nature it is almost impossible to find pure symmetry. Perhaps it can be found in a bubble, or can be seen in butterfly wings. But even in the repetitious scales of some reptiles the pattern changes with the changing anatomy and movements of the animal. So in art there are many things that have the appearance of repeating patterns and symmetry.

I have a photograph of a brick path. Along both sides of the path there are small trees in pots evenly spaced to provide an edge to the path. Though all the trees are the same height, no matter how much shaping and pruning the gardener does he cannot make them identical. To the casual observer they may all look alike, but to the careful eye of someone else, each tree takes on its own personality and beauty.

"Music never repeats itself." The musical notes on the page are always the same for any printed piece of music. But when it is put in front of a musician it will become even more alive than those trees. And whether he plays it ill or well its life is momentary. Every time he plays it the experience will be different. Even a piece of music that is recorded will have a different experience for the listener every time it's heard. You may even hear a difference when it is played on a different record player. And when the same piece is played by another musician the experience is new and different even though the notes on the page haven't changed. You may have a favorite recording of some music that you love and have taken for granted. One day you will stop and listen again because you suddenly heard something different you didn't know was there, some movement of a muscle in the music you thought you'd never heard before.

These things happen because music is the most basic human art form there is. There is a direct link between music and human thoughts and emotions.

But one can also have the same sit up and pay attention with art and poetry.

I have a favorite painting at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Whenever I went to the museum, for whatever reason, I always made it a point to go and spend some time with that picture, and whenever I did it had more to say to me, like an endless conversation that picked up where it left off even if a year had intervened. You may have such a picture hanging on your wall from which one day something will emerge that you never paid attention to before, that you thought you never saw.

I like to say that I don't read books, I eat them. I love going back over the same great literature I've read before simply because even though the words on the page, like the notes in a musical score, haven't changed, somehow it's a brand new book. Once through the book or poem is an adventure. The next time through is a different adventure.

The endless, ever changing life of great art is one of the joys of human existence.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
(never give up)
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3 comments:

Jon said...

Music, art, and literature were (and are) the greatest loves of my life. I couldn't have existed without them.

pacifica62 said...

"There is a direct link between music and human thoughts and emotions."
Which comes first? Music certainly affects thoughts and emotions, but thoughts and emotions are a requirement to help create music

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

I can do music over many times, but have never been one to re-read books.