There’s something that is somehow intriguing about making the listening experience so precious at a time when it is so devalued. And in the midst of Monday’s marathon information overload on steroids, learning about a new app that will only allow you to play a song one time seemed downright appealing.
Filled with excitement about the possibilities of viable music export for the new music community, I wandered the exhibition rooms where elaborate displays of various countries’ musical offerings were on display, often through the support of their governments. There is no such exhibition for the United States, although Texas always has a presence here. Perhaps if we can’t have an official United States presence at MIDEM and other significant music export convenings abroad we can eventually have representation from all 50 states individually–imagine that.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room is how popular culture is determined and disseminated. Not so long ago, composers ranging from Igor Stravinsky to Thelonious Monk graced the cover of Time magazine. John Cage even appeared on nationally broadcast television programs. Yet it seems like a pipe dream for anyone other than a million-dollar-grossing pop star to get similar attention now. Why?
My response to reading all of the diatribes against 2012 Nobel Laurate Mo Yan has been to go out and buy some of his books and start reading them. I’m totally smitten, but also reminded of a key difference between literature, which is all about what the words mean, and music, which, by its nature, is inevitably ambiguous.
Making sure all the elements in a piece of music fit seamlessly together is extraordinarily pleasurable, akin to the delight of completing an elaborate jigsaw puzzle, solving a Rubik’s Cube, or (as I can only imagine since I’m terrified of needles) knitting a scarf or a sweater. Coming to the conclusion of such a process, when everything seems to be all lined up correctly, is somehow its own satisfaction.