The Sound of Music

Apparently I need to go for a long drive more often. During a car trip to Salt Lake for business, my mind was whipping out different ideas for posts. However, now that I’m sitting in front of a computer, I’m a bit perplexed about where to start. Perhaps it’s best to start with the catalyst.

Growing up, and I can’t remember if I’ve shared this before, I always wanted to play the cello. There’s two reasons: first, I loved the rich sound, and second, I watched Airwolf. The protagonist played the cello on a deck at a lake in the middle of nowhere. Yes, random, but it seemed like the cool thing to do. Fast forward to this morning and I’m listening to American Performance.

The first hour of the show highlighted the first movement from Cello Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012, by J.S. Bach. The cellist was Steven Isserlis. I about drove off the road it was so beautiful. That’s when it clicked. Some of the boldest ideas in the world don’t require words.

While I have great respect for songwriters, there’s something so amazing about the power of music that attempts to stand on its own without words. In a way, the words give you an entrance point to a song. A lack of words requires something of the listener, and we don’t always have the patience to work through what the music requires. This same habit carries over into our everyday conversations. We’re so busy looking for that entrance that we fail to hear what is really being said.
Even more frustrating to me are the people who take advantage of how little we listen. I know I beat up a lot on politicians*, but have you paid any attention to some of the statements they’ve made of late?

“We’re a country that depends on exports. And we’re also an entrepreneurial country. We’re a country that should think about all these people that are coming out of poverty in China and India and elsewhere — we should think of them as new customers. We should be thinking about, what can we sell to them: energy independence, health care? There’s so much we can sell to them. Let’s get back our entrepreneurial spirit, rather than having our head down.”—Rudy Giuliani

On how Republicans can win back confidence on the economy: “I think we need to tell the American people the truth. Congress’ approval rating now is about 11 percent. I don’t think anybody believes anything coming out of Washington anymore. I think we need to tell them the truth that our security is on the line, that our economy is on the line, the our prosperity is on the line. We’re going to have to do some things differently.”—Fred Thompson

Yikes! And these are the front runners on the Republican side. I suspect the Democrats aren’t doing much better.

Sometimes, I wish our oh-so-public figures would figure out that less is more. Tell me something worth hearing and cut the crap that doesn’t matter. However, they’ve learned that flooding the airwaves with a bunch of extra noise covers up a lot of the questions that a more discerning audience might think to ask otherwise. We’ve once again allowed ourselves to be confused about the difference between quantity and quality.


*For those worried about fair treatment, never fear, I have plenty of future opportunities to highlight the Democrats’ word choices.


3 Responses to “The Sound of Music”

  1. October 14, 2007 at 10:53 am

    unrelated but feel the need: I sometimes fret that I am monolingual (unlike my “european” husband who is tri+). and then i remember my second language, music [something he is not fluent in, point me.]. It is amazing what can be said with music which words (in any language) cannot adequately convey. and yes, it does require active listening on my part, something I don’t always do (especially in the case of words by politicians)

    also: i’ve always wanted to play cello.. one day.

  2. 2 Britt
    October 16, 2007 at 10:43 am

    I’m monolingual too, much to my everlasting disgust. I’ve tried French, German, and Spanish (granted all in secondary school) and never even came close to understanding another language.

    However, I take some comfort in my ability to play the piano and express myself through music. It definitely requires a unique vocabulary.

  3. October 16, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    While I took German as a minor, I would certainly hesitate to call myself bi-lingual.

    Anyway, wanted to post up a link to an article on ADHD that my boss wrote where he mentions his daughter, a cellist who co-founded the Coolidge Quartet in Poland. You will have to “scroll down” about half way.


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