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August 18, 2003 - 10:06 p.m.

Music, part whatever

I was on my way to the Depot of Homeness to get the aforementioned faucet, and I was listening to classical music, for a change of pace. Stravinskyís Firebird Suite came on.

Wow.

I tend to favor DeBussy and Ravel, those wacky French composers for their use of rich harmony. But Iíd forgotten how brilliant this piece was, despite the hisses and pops from the FM signal, it got to me just like a tearjerker movie.

After the stop at HD I went to my favorite record store to get a copy of that CD. Their classical selection sucks, itís an afterthought at best. I did manage to find one and I splurged on a Telarc copy.

Iíve loved classical music for years, but I get emotional over this piece. Itís hard to describe why, but Iím going to try anyhow.

In order to appreciate classical music I had to understand jazz music. Theyíre as different as can be, but they share a common feature. Those of us born to rock and roll have been locked into music with a specific time signature. The beat is reliable and musicians hang their notes on it, like Christmas decorations. There is emotion in the lyrics, but the beat is a regular and predictable thing. Itís hard for many of my generation to move out of that mindset and experience music expressed as a wordless emotion.

You have to leave that reliability behind in order to appreciate jazz and even more so to understand classical music. Jazz is challenging because they start with a regular beat and then screw it all up on you. Jazz is thematic though, theyíll take a riff and walk all around it musically and interpret it for you in their own style. IMHO, no one takes a walk around a riff like Wayne Shorter.

Classical music is pure emotion. It took awhile for me to understand that. The stuff that really gets me is the music that describes a feeling; it paints a picture in my mind. The composer leads me along, describing a feeling, a question, a painting, an eventÖ musically. There are no words required to express it, the chords and melody are all thatís required. That and the composerís genius to paint that picture, to convey that emotion, to make me forget about everything except what heís trying to show me.

Stravinskyís Firebird is thematic in a way. The last passage is so brilliant and intense! Itís more powerful than any rock and roll song could ever hope to be, because it affects my heart. Classical music has such dynamic range too. Youíll never hear that anywhere else. The volume knob on my car stereo has to be all the way up in order to experience this; I have to feel the impact of the bass drum.

Present day composers sing about love. Classical composers make you feel it.







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