Saturday, February 11, 2012

La bohème (the young bohemians)

Remember the story about the man many years ago who became so obsessed with his idea of inventing a new tool of communication that he cut all ties to normal life and became a hermit to work on his invention?

It took him 20 years, but he finally successfully completed his work and rejoined society to show off his invention to the world.

He had reinvented the typewriter.

I feel like that hermit sometimes when I get some great “revelation” that only old age has afforded me the luxury of time to even think about.  It turns out that everybody else already knew what I had just discovered.

Take modern music (PLEASE) for example.

The famous English conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham is quoted as saying that the sound of the harpsichord is like “two skeletons making love on a tin roof.”

Mr. Wise, my old violin teacher at Piedmont Junior High said one time that “whoever invented the saxophone should be shot.”

Both men passed away before they had the chance to be assaulted by what pretends to be music today.

Why in the world would anyone in their right mind think that modern rock and roll is anything more than mindless robots banging on pots and pans and who knows what loudly as possible until their adoring fans ears bleed?

The answer is found in the teenage brain. New medical imaging techniques have shown that the teenage brain is truly different.  It is not fully developed until usually about the 25th year and explains, for once and for all,  the main reason we all think and act differently from the way we did in our teens.

Of course, there ARE exceptions. And you know who they are.

Now as far as music is concerned, it's long been known that as we grow we associate music with what's going on in our lives at the time. Experiments have shown  that if classical music, for example, is played on the school PA system during recess and lunch hour during a class of kids' high school years, the majority will graduate preferring that kind of music. 

I know first hand that there is a lot of truth to that.

Silent Sam at UNC
When I was a freshman in college, there was a boy from New Jersey who lived right across the hall from me who every morning turned up his HI FI loud enough to listen to while he was showering... half way down the hall.

Everyone on the floor was annoyed by this at first, but nobody had the nerve to complain because the guy (I don't remember his name, so I'll just call him Biff) was the biggest and meanest player on Carolina's football team. A knee injury which kept him off the squad that year, was the reason he had been re-assigned a room in a “normal” people's dorm instead of the athlete's dorm. The music blasted down our hall every morning and began again at only a slightly reduced volume each evening.

I had never really had much exposure before to the music he played, but being 19 years old my brain was wide open for the sounds that accompanied the joy of being an American boy away from home for the first time in the springtime of my youth.

By the end of my freshman year, I was hooked. The seed had been sown and over the years its roots have grown deep. To this day, the music blasting down that dorm hall in Chapel Hill that year still run chills up my spine. 

The beautiful operatic arias of Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, Bizet...

Thanks Biff.