Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Break For Music

Last week was our spring break (for the record, we're getting lots of snow today, so something is wrong here). Some of my colleagues enjoyed trips here and there, and several went to the Society for American Music meaning down in San Antonio, I stuck it out in wintry Ann Arbor, prepping for my special field exam. What this means is I spent hours upon hours in the music library, with CDs and the Grove Dictionary of Music. I learned that Leonard Bernstein, at the tender age of 27, conducted the premiere of Peter Grimes. I heard music I've meant to hear but have somehow avoided until now (like Roger Sessions).

But I learned something else about music, or at least was reminded. By the end of the week, it was easy to start feeling like this was just a rote exercise: listen for the general details, remember a few things, and move on. Friday night I came home from the week, and went off to the Dawn Dance, Ann Arbor's annual folk dance weekend. And the music was fantastic, the sort that makes an entire room simultaneously wake up. Sitting around, listening to this music on headphones and trying to take notes in a certain way is just missing the music, the cliff-notes version. It's the same reason I hate reading on a schedule; you miss the words in the search for the point. And so I closed the week re-remembering what I may have forgotten. The reason I'm doing this is those moments where the music takes over, and there's nothing else to take away from it. You can't even relive it, the only option is to keep listening for that next moment.


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