Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wherever Your Thoughts Are

I've been talking lately about tuning out, and the other day, I shared a lengthy example from John Adams' autobiography about boredom in avant-garde music. It's part of a larger blog mini-project on tuning out that began with my recollection of sleeping through the New York Phil's performance of Schubert's Unfinished:

I do vaguely remember about two minutes of sumptuous, Brahmsian orchestra sound. It washed over me in waves before--just as I decided to mark signposts in the sonata form in order to stay awake--my thoughts on deciding to mark signposts in the sonata form in order to stay awake coupled with the full-blown, fully manned Brahmsian orchestra sound put me fast asleep. I was an incredibly rude waste of a student rush ticket. Something tells me, however, that if Christoph von Dohnanyi had turned around and fixated on one sleeping bum, he may have been offended, but he would not have second-guessed his tempoes on my account.
I'm also doing another small projecct in my life: to actually listen to the music I say is my favorite. To that end, I downloaded Steve Reich's "You Are" album for $5.99. It's bright, chirpy, interesting, caffeinated music. Here's a primitive video knockoff of one of its movements (wait a second while it starts up):

Doing some googling, I ran across one of Reich's many interviews after You Are's release, here. Maybe it's kind of a hippie-ish notion, but I thought his description of "You Are Wherever Your Thoughts Are" fits in with the loose theme of this blog lately:

Here I wanted to go back to Proverb and I picked four short texts. I think they are very interesting to people just because they are so short. Three of them are from the Jewish tradition, one from Wittgenstein, but a lot of people said to me they were like Zen Koans: very short aphorism that invite meditation. "You are where ever your thoughts are". That's true of people, and it's also very true about listening to music. When you are really listening your consciousness is filled with the music and where ever the music goes, that's literarily where you are. Someone taps you on the shoulder and you come back to another reality. But when you are listening your mind is filled with the music. Where ever the music goes, you go too, if you are really listening. Obviously if you are watching TV or listening to the radio this is something different. It is a truth about human beings that they can be physically somewhere but their mind can be elsewhere and that's really where they are.
Simple, right? That's all for now. I have a magnum opus in the works... In progress: a three-parter!

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