i prefer the music of the trains anyway

Posted on April 9th, 2007 by Scraps.
Categories: Media, Music, Performance.

Am I the only one* who thinks the Joshua-Bell-in-the-Metro experiment is not a sad commentary on our culture's anything, and that the main lesson is the obvious one that a train station at rush hour is not the best time to try to expose anyone to beautiful music?

I think I'll call people up at random, declaim Shakespeare at them, and see who stays on the line.

*This transparent rhetorical ploy brought to you by the makers of "I know this isn't a very popular thing to say but".

19 comments.

Judy

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

Got a link?

Jordan

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

Yeah, I've been thinking the same thing. There are plenty of good arguments that our culture is too rushed, doesn't properly value the arts, etc., but this isn't really one of them.

Scraps

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

Here you go.

ethan

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

First thing in the morning that'd give me such a frickin' headache. Guess I'm a philistine.

Judy

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

If I were on my way to work, I probably wouldn't pause either; I have to be there when I have to be there, and missing my train for a violinist... well, I've cut class to watch a solar eclipse, but my work schedule just isn't flexible. If I were on my way home, I might well linger.

Avram

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

Of maybe Joshua Bell just isn't a good busker.

Richard

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

I thought it was an interesting article, I guess, and I didn't think the point of it was that it was a "sad commentary". And, as I already commented over at 'Dial M', I didn't think they set out to prove it was a sad commentary, either. There was a lot in there about how art needs to be contextualized, or we don't respond to it in the way would otherwise might. And I thought it was more interesting than 'sad' that only a small handful bothered to stop, and that only one or two had any idea what they were really witnessing. Plus all the stuff about the decision-making processes involved in whether or not to give money, etc. There were a couple of remarks about how it was assumed a crowd would have appeared in a similar European context, which may lend itself to 'sad commentary' assumptions, though I didn't think they did.

I work in DC and there are musicians at my Metro stop everyday. Some of them are terrible, some of them are not, but I definitely take a little notice when they're not (there's this one sax player I really like), and I'm usually in a massive hurry, or think I am...

Lizzie

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

I'm with you, Scraps.

Robert

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

I'm more or less with you. I've heard some pretty good musicians in the subway now and then, and whether I stop to listen and give them money is entirely a function of what's going on with my life at that moment.

LauraJMixon

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

I'm totally with you. I *love* classical music, but when I am trying to get to work, I don't have time to stop for anything. I thought the article was really lame, and I don't like that Joshua Bell was humiliated for the sake of a cheap stunt.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

You're far from the only person.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Comment on April 9th, 2007.

Also this.

Scraps

Comment on April 10th, 2007.

Thanks for the links!

Richard, I'm responding more to many of the responses I have seen -- not yours -- than the article itself.

Richard

Comment on April 10th, 2007.

Thanks for saying so, Scraps. I thought it might be the case, but I didn't want to assume. Though otherwise I was afraid I was going a little crazy...

Don Keller

Comment on April 10th, 2007.

I'm going to take the other side of this. If I heard any violinist (world-class or not) playing Bach's Chaconne (which is one of the greatest pieces of music ever) in the subway, I would in fact (however much of a hurry I was in) stop and listen as long as I could, and give them some money.

In fact, a few years ago I did just that, and further gave the woman another dollar or two to play another movement from the same partita which I'd been fooling around with on my mandolin to make sure I was playing it right...

Scraps

Comment on April 10th, 2007.

I don't think you're taking the other side, unless you're saying that anyone who doesn't stop has their priorities screwed up.

Scraps

Comment on April 10th, 2007.

Also, Don, you'd recognize the piece. It's no shame (in my opinion) that most people wouldn't. If I heard someone playing something I knew and loved, I'd be more likely to stop too, even in a train station, where I generally dislike hearing music (because I'm a captive audience, and may prefer to be thinking other thoughts, or listening to my own choice of music).

Don Keller

Comment on April 10th, 2007.

True, I did recognize the piece; true also that I don't stop for the violinist who always seems to be playing Vivaldi's The Seasons, which I dislike.

I guess I'm taking the other side of the "context is everything" argument: context is hardly negligible, but speaking only for myself, good music will tend to stop me in my tracks regardless of context (and bad music I can't avoid will particularly annoy me). Others' mileage clearly varies.

Marilee

Comment on April 12th, 2007.

If they'd had a little sign saying "Joshua Bell," I would have recognized his name. But him, the Strad, and the music? No.

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