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Last post Author Topic: What may you be missing?  (Read 10356 times)

Curt

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What may you be missing?
« on: January 10, 2009, 02:43:50 PM »
This is a true story:


Quote
He Played the Violin in the Subway


bell.jpg

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold, December morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
 
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
 
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
 
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
 
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
 
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
 
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
 
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100 each.

(1600x1200):
Joshua_Bell,_Award-winning_Violinist.jpgWhat may you be missing?

 
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
 
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
 
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, (on one of the finest instruments ever created), how many other things are we missing?


http://www.washingto...AR2007040401721.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Bell

So, what may YOU be missing?  :tellme:
« Last Edit: January 10, 2009, 02:46:58 PM by Curt »

Deozaan

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2009, 05:42:38 PM »
So, what may YOU be missing?  :tellme:

My 7 O'clock train to the office.


4wd

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2009, 09:13:53 PM »
Of all the things I've lost over the years, I miss my mind the most.


(Wish I knew who originally wrote that since it's easily the truest statement.)

Shades

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2009, 09:26:50 PM »
I still have mine...but it is dirty now   :o

Fred Nerd

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2009, 04:41:54 AM »
Yeah, you should always give to buskers, and write your phone number on the back of a note if you think they are either: going to be successful, or are good looking.

As a busker myself, I will add: always give money, and put your phone number on a note if you're young, female and hot.  ;)

Curt

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2009, 05:19:29 AM »
a busker myself,

- I had to look that one up

Quote from: Merriam Webster
busker:

chiefly British : a person who entertains in a public place for donations

- per definition you ought to feel at home here at DC  :up:

app103

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2009, 04:00:02 PM »
I shared this post on Friendfeed. (I hope you don't mind, Curt)

Some rather interesting comments were made.

Curt

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2009, 05:28:42 PM »
- of course I don't mind - I also received it from somewhere, didn't I - in fact, I am pleased.

Friendfeed seems to be a pleasant place to hang out (I see you spend at least an hour or so there, per day)?

zridling

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2009, 09:10:34 PM »
I've found that to slow down long enough to appreciate and experience beauty -- in art, philosophy, music, in laughter, in the strangeness that is folk, in literature -- you have to arrest novelty; that is, the lure of the latest 'new thing.' There have been many songs written about this, one being Carly Simon's The Stuff that Dreams are Made of.

Tech and computer life drowns us with novelty.

Darwin

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2009, 09:20:03 PM »
Of all the things I've lost over the years, I miss my mind the most.


(Wish I knew who originally wrote that since it's easily the truest statement.)

I imagine you've simply forgotten!
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Darwin

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2009, 09:23:00 PM »
Curt - thank you for posting the story. I found it strangely moving, I suppose because it really makes you "think" about how manufactured everything is today. This includes our "tastes" and our perceptions. I like to think that I would have stood enraptured by the performance, I know my six year old would have. If I let him stand there... Horrid to think that I might have dragged him away, like the parents described in the piece  :(
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

Ehtyar

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2009, 09:54:33 PM »
I really do hate seeing buskers on my way to work, simply because they're usually so good and you more often than not have next to no time to stop and appreciate their work. I'll certainly drop a few bucks in the hat of one who's music I find outstanding, but it's very upsetting to have to walk away so soon. Seems like I can hardly complain though, quite a large group of New Yorkers apparently just missed a positively golden opportunity.

Ehtyar.

tomos

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2009, 03:43:47 AM »
a bit unfair to do this during rush hour I think -
"well there was this amazing violin player in the subway and I just had to stop" mightnt impress the boss
and if he wasnt so famous, 34$ for 45 minutes doesnt seem too bad a haul :)
but the worst must be people just ignoring you, walking by as if you dont exist when you're playing your heart out.
I see it here often - I love live music and the music on the street (no subway here ;-) would have to be fairly bad for me to ignore it.
In fairness, in some towns (countries?) buskers are more appreciated

but what am I missing, hmmm   too much I'm afraid ... have to go think about that one methinks
Tom

Fred Nerd

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2009, 04:03:52 AM »
$34 in 45 minutes.
A good muso in a busy area should do a lot better.

I never do, but I only do it for fun in the busker's area at festivals. So no-one expects to make money, the best they hope for is to be talent spotted. Or in my case meet new people, have fun etc.

Maybe we are used to the media making such a big fuss over anything that we have lost the art of finding our own way.
Its 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (Grimm fairy tale) all over: when people are told that someone is worth $100 a ticket, they believe it. But they won't see that is just the same as the free version.

Bit like people think Windows is better because it cost money, but Linux is worthless.

CWuestefeld

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2009, 08:38:01 AM »
I think the writer completely missed what are the most significant conclusions.

First, and most significantly, Manhattan has a tremendous and diverse population (and I mean diverse in a real, meaningful sense, not the sneaky codeword for affirmative action). There is ample room for there to be a crowd big enough to love this music enough to sell out a performance, while statistically not a single one of those people walks past the subway performance. So this experience doesn't necessarily tell us anything about people per se.

Also, as Fred and Darwin suggested, in something as subtle as classical violin, where appreciation is certainly an acquired taste*, it's hardly surprising for folks to have a herd mentality, where they don't perceive the (alleged) value until other folks are seen to value it. If you think about it, the same thing is true about gold and other precious metals and gems. I mean, there's nothing really intrinsic to gold that improves our life; we choose to share a collective fiction that we should all value it.

* Contrary to what any snob tells you, you can't appreciate concert violin without being educated about it. Indeed, I'd say that most any art form requires that we learn its vocabulary before it can be appreciated. I can give you heaps of objective argument as to why thrash metal music is a beautiful artform (no, really!), but a casual listener isn't going to perceive any of that without spending the time to understand it. Much of the criticism of contemporary artists like, e.g., Mapplethorpe is due to the fact that they use established media without conforming to the understood vocabulary of that media, thus causing those who try to interpret it conventionally to conclude that it's meaningless (and their love of shocking viewers doesn't help either).

cranioscopical

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2009, 10:15:35 AM »
but the worst must be people just ignoring you

Ever tried playing dinner music? ;)


Darwin

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2009, 10:20:03 AM »
Maybe we are used to the media making such a big fuss over anything that we have lost the art of finding our own way.
Its 'The Emperor's New Clothes' (Grimm fairy tale) all over: when people are told that someone is worth $100 a ticket, they believe it. But they won't see that is just the same as the free version.

Also, as Fred and Darwin suggested, in something as subtle as classical violin, where appreciation is certainly an acquired taste*, it's hardly surprising for folks to have a herd mentality, where they don't perceive the (alleged) value until other folks are seen to value it.

My point exactly. Thank you both for being able to write it so much more clearly than I dfid  :-[ :Thmbsup:
"Some people have a way with words, other people,... oh... have not way" - Steve Martin

f0dder

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2009, 07:23:04 PM »
Most street musicians tend to annoy me, because they - sorry to say it - suck. And mimes should be banned by law. Whenever there's a musician that doesn't suck, I don't have any cash on my, doh. (Which I rarely have, btw - debit cards ftw.)

Interesting that people just stress by without even taking a look at the guy, though. Just how much in a hurry can one be?
- carpe noctem

Davidtheo

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2009, 08:35:10 PM »
Thanks for posting this but I think they are missing some points here too.

  • Did the people in the subway like this kind of music, If not they would not stop and listen.
  • Did they know who this person was, most people may not know who he is.
  • Do most people know what a violin worth 3.5 million dollars looks like.

I think if he played in a upmarket area, where people that can afford a $100 ticket to watch some one playing a violin, would normal go then the reaction would be different.


 
« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 08:36:55 PM by Davidtheo »

cranioscopical

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2009, 11:54:17 PM »
organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people

I'm not sure I believe this... I think they're trying to fiddle.

Oxford English Dictionary
Fiddle v. To cheat, swindle


40hz

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2009, 11:43:34 AM »
Most street musicians tend to annoy me, because they - sorry to say it - suck. And mimes should be banned by law. Whenever there's a musician that doesn't suck, I don't have any cash on my, doh. (Which I rarely have, btw - debit cards ftw.)

Interesting that people just stress by without even taking a look at the guy, though. Just how much in a hurry can one be?

In just enough of a hurry to avoid getting annoyed perhaps?  ;D
« Last Edit: January 14, 2009, 11:45:13 AM by 40hz »

Paul Keith

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2009, 02:05:25 AM »
Ok, it seems everyone wrote what I wanted to add so I'll opt for a jerkier perspective.

The reason few payed attention isn't just a flaw with demographics but also because all music is overrated in general.

Yes, music is an acquired taste and you have to understand it's structure to fully appreciate it but at the same time it's only really valuable if you have never heard of it before and felt something special about it.

This doesn't mean all music is bad inherently, just that all music is based around a structure of nostalgia. Even the creation of music requires one feeling "special" upon hearing and combining the right sounds.

Because of this inherent structure, if you took all the marketing and consumer packaging away from any music, it's only sound. Just like if you took away the points and stats in basketball, it's just a game of putting a round object into a small circle. Sure, some people will like it but it's inherently not going to motivate anyone to feel special about their AND1 dribbling skills or Larry Bird-like shooting accuracy.

Music, without the right marketing or the wrong passion, is just...sound

One other thing that has been ignored was how the musician approached his work.

More times than not, people who get discovered in subways are more passionate about their playing with a decent capability in producing the right sounds that people walking by who might be interested get attracted to both the body language and the sound.

Musicians who come by and play some music in a place as if they came in to do their jobs often won't get noticed no matter how talented they are. Yes, a maestro might notice their talents but they rarely would ever string a large crowd along. Another thing to note is that people who want the people around them to enjoy their music tend to change their songs until they see a reaction. Even a talented musician can't just play a pre-set number of tunes in an environment where he's not pandering to a crowd but trying to appeal his taste to them.

CleverCat

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2009, 02:50:13 AM »
If I had been there, my little scooter would have been parked for 45 mins! :Thmbsup:

I used to play the Violin at school - I love all violin music!

app103

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2009, 03:43:10 AM »
I've found that to slow down long enough to appreciate and experience beauty -- in art, philosophy, music, in laughter, in the strangeness that is folk, in literature -- you have to arrest novelty; that is, the lure of the latest 'new thing.' There have been many songs written about this, one being Carly Simon's The Stuff that Dreams are Made of.

Tech and computer life drowns us with novelty.

I have seen & heard my share of street musicians in my lifetime, performances that were both good and bad.

But the single performance that stands out in my mind and was the most memorable, was a guy that was not only good, he had novelty, as well.

He was a drummer that created his drums from buckets, laundry baskets, pots & pans. With a certain child-like playfulness that we all can identify with from our youth, banging on mom's or grandma's pots & pans in the kitchen, he seemed like a guy that just never stopped.

He had fun and we had fun, watching & listening. And although it was around 20 years ago, I still think about it every time I am at that location waiting for a bus.

This drummer had crowd appeal and was a skilled street musician.

It takes more than good playing and a good instrument to be a successful street performer...as a matter of fact, neither is a requirement at all. It takes something much different to command a crowd in a subway station or on a street corner.

Joshua Bell may be one of the greatest in the world, but he makes a lousy street musician. If he had wanted to get attention, he should have done what a good street musician might have, and dress up like a cricket or something...or maybe play Hendrix on an electric violin.


Or like this guy that has no trouble finding an audience on the street, eager to be around him when he plays his violin.

I am sure the results would have been quite different.

But on the other side of the coin, would anyone pay $100 to hear a good street musician play in a concert hall?


Grorgy

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Re: What may you be missing?
« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2009, 03:46:02 AM »
I thought the point of the piece was more  that the things around us need to be cherished more, sure they focus on music, but they are I think focusing on the idea that we rush here and there, we don't take the time to stop and listen to the music, or to look at the art or the trees.  There are a lot of bad street musicians, lot of bad ones in concert halls to in my opinion, and the same for artists authors and so on,  but if we take the time to look and listen we might find some real gems just in our daily lives.