Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Known Unknowns

I have just returned from the university orchestra, to which I can say the following:
-The Lutoslawski Concerto for Orchestra is amazing. You had me at brass ostinatos. Really, I'm a big fan of sweeping, sinuous melodies layered over ostinatos or arpeggios (like the end of Prokofiev Five, or his the end of the the first movement of the piano concerto, with that crunching low brass melody over the piano runs).
-Dvorak's Carnaval Overture is pure fun. It's like listening to a really good storyteller, effortlessly engrossing without anything too extravagant.
-Malcolm Arnold's Tam-O-Shanter reminds me that we need to have more drunk orchestra pieces.
-Vaughan Williams does folksy, slow-moving music. Two on one concert is sort of unfulfilling.
-Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture can start a concert.

Today, I read the Time Magazine's top ten lists. A bit of a time sink, but it's good to keep up with contemporary pop music. Among the great finds are Kanye West's brilliantly stark new CD, MGMT's atmospheric lushness (and one of them is a cousin of a friend of mine here!), Greg Gillis's mashup genius work, Vampire Weekend's dorkiness, and Fleet Foxes' catchy-haunting song White Winter Hymnal. Good stuff, recommended for its thoughtful commentary and blend of immediate gratification (e.g. Jonas Brothers) and subtler pieces.

Also today, I started writing my film theory paper (well, one page). This was, in all honesty, one of the better classes I've taken here. The final class we had was an excellent case of why not knowing can be even better. Having made (and admitted) the mistake of assigning the hardest reading on the last day (Deleuze), it proved surprisingly liberating. The professor admitted his own difficulties with the material, and what ensued was less a dense untangling of the prose as you might expect, but a sort of free association, like flying above a tangled landscape rather than walking through. We weren't worried about reconstructing arguments and preconditions, but just about what issues it raised through confusions, less theory and more riffing. I don't know how movement gets beyond movement to the particle, except that I offered that maybe it's like light, which is a wave and a particle. "Could you elaborate?" asked the professor. "No." How nice to be honest.

I always loved those moments in undergrad, where you'd struggle with a hard reading for a week, discuss in class, and suddenly make a connection or understand a point or hear just the right words, and have everything fall just into place. I should be so lucky to give that feeling to others. There was none of that this week, but it's also nice to not know something, and just smile at it.

That's a Tuesday.


  • Tam O'Shanter is brilliant. I played a wind ensemble arrangement of it in high school, and I always felt like I was flying when I got parts right.

    By Blogger mogwit, At December 10, 2008 at 1:01 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home