easily amused


Eileen got up yesterday and told me that she was going to deal with my recent second insurance fail. That’s the one where once again the pharmacy at Meijer told me my insurance was denied due to lack of payment.

This was particularly frustrating since we have OVERPAID our insurance because of a mix up on policies. So one policy is showing up as underpaid, and there is no record of where the money actually went.

Eileen got in the car and drove to our insurance company’s office. She was very frustrated  but somehow with the help of people there when we went to Meijer my prescription went through. Weird.

Once again I spent most of my morning sort of on hold mentally. I’m beginning to thaw out of it. I rehearsed with Dawn the cellist and Amy the violinist yesterday. Bach, Brahms and Mozart were the composers we played through. I think all three of us find this very satisfying and inspiring.

Recently there was an online discussion on Facebook between organists. One person asked others to talk about their tastes in music. Specifically if they listen to music that is not “classical.” I was pleasantly surprised that most people responded that they routinely listened to many kinds of music. Trained organists are some of the most rigid and narrow musicians I have known.

Conversely I have known many untrained musicians who also tend to be narrow and usually specialized in one kind of music.

Inspired Play By Ear Guitarists

My string playing friends in my trio are obviously trained musicians and have much more conservative tastes than I do. While I tend to love the music they love, I also love a lot of music they find distasteful.

This has been my experience with many degree bearing musicians. On the other hand, it seems that non-classical music has come to dominate our society more aggressively. One of my objections to this is that with this domination has come a dilution of criteria for just what is effective and meaningful music.

If your idea of success is economic, you may define effective and meaningful music as the music that sells well. Unfortunately, this leads to music that is made primarily for mass consumption and often seems phoney to me. I say this as a musician who likes a great deal of popular music and realizes it has helped defined my own aesthetic.

I will go further and say that I find an aesthetic that routinely rejects genres alarmingly narrow.

As a person who embraces a wide variety of arts: musics, literature, poetry and the like, I oscillate between thinking I’m obviously correct in  my tastes and then thinking that I’m probably a bit shallow and that’s why I like so many different things. Easily amused.

I’ll close with an excellent quote from Ralph Ellison that I read this morning in my copy of The Auditory Culture Reader. 

Just as I was encouraged by the wide variety of tastes that organists on Facebooger, I was gratified to read what Ellison wrote in 1972.

Those who know their native culture and live with it unchauvinistically are never lost when encountering the unfamiliar. Living with music today we find Mozart and Ellington, Kirsten Flagstand and Chippie Hill, William L. Dawson and Carl Orff all forming part of our regular fare; all add to its significance… In doing so, it gives significance to all those indefinable aspects of experience which nevertheless help make us what we are. In the swift whirl of time, music is a constant, reminding us of what we were and of that toward which we aspired. Art thou troubled?  Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.” Ralph Ellison, “Living with Music” in Shadow and Act (1972)

KIrsten Flagstad was an opera singer,

Chippie Hill, a blues singer.

I had to look them up.

Fighting Homelessness, One Smartphone at a Time – NYTimes.com

Exciting program of providing smart phones with internet access to the homeless. Very cool.

Starving for Wisdom – NYTimes.com

A clear argument for studying the humanities.

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