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Driving a hard bargain

January 20th, 2012 by Ralf Kircher

Omg, what’s that? There is a guy setting up his snare drum right in the middle of the railway station’s busy main hall, he grabs a pair of sticks and starts to play very softly: ram, ta-ta-ta-tam, ta-ta-ta-tam, tam, tam, ta-ta-ta-tam, ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta, tam, ta-ta-ta-tam, ta-ta-ta-tam, tam, tam… Next to him appears another chap, carrying a violoncello, joining in: bum, …, bum, bum, …, bum, bum, … We become aware of a pretty flute player, enchanting the people around her with a beautiful, elegiac tune…

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As time goes by, more and more musicians, which “happen” to cross the hall of the station, contribute to the spontaneous jam session – and out of a sudden there is a full symphony orchestra, performing Ravel’s Bolero for an astonished crowd!

A sigh of relieve blows briskly throughout all the social network pages: eureka, that’s it – the rescue of occidental music! THAT was our mistake: keeping those treasuries of symphonies, concertos, arias, overtures locked up within old fashioned noble prisons called “concert halls”! And even worse: entrusting this heritage to uncool workaholics, who have nothing better to do than spending half of their live in obscure practicing rooms, treating whatever musical instruments for many hours a day, and then feeding their pride by having them perform for an elitist audience – how dull! We just have to take this music out to the fresh air, bring it there where people gather, force these people to listen, for god’s sake – and revelation will hit them immediately: “How on earth could we miss that for so many years? Shame on us – Ludwig, forgive us!”

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So, I am just wondering, where are those brave rescuers of visual arts, who take good old Mona Lisa and place it on the wall of the nearest MacDonald’s toilet? Or dispose Karushere’s mummy in Tiffany’s windows? After all, there is a lot more people going for a Big Mac or strolling along 5th Avenue than paying (yes, even paying for that) a visit to the Louvre or the Metropolian Museum… After all, I might wait in vain: probably no one will do so. Why not? Because that would be just ridiculous!

As ridiculous as assuming that people understand a language, which they never have learned to speak! The sound of that unknown language, they way (native) speakers express themselves, might cause some pleasurable sensations – no doubt about that -, however, these sensations will fade very quickly as long the words underlying remain incomprehensible. “What the hell are you complaining about?”, I am given a slap on my wrist, “there are so many people, who just never had any opportunity to listen to a symphony orchestra! As soon they do, they are thrilled!” Right! I am quite sure my lovely daughter – who actually has developed quite strong connoisseuric features – would be thrilled if I fed her with beluga caviar (especially when out of crystal champagne glasses), nevertheless, I do not consider at all putting that stuff on her daily menu plan (as nutritious it might be)… Beluga caviar is not for kids, it’s for grown-ups – symphonic music is no temporal cure against boredom and weariness, it’s nourishment for mind and soul! And if my mind is not able to digest it, I will not enjoy any benefits from hearing it! There is just no such thing like getting something for nothing…

“It is but a small step from the sublime to the ridiculous” – well said, Napoleon! However, this argument cannot be reversed by any means, just the opposite, instead: it’s a damned long way from the ridiculous to the sublime…

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