Notes from Tahoe

Three nights ago I dreamed I was a bicycle-riding pizza delivery boy in New York City.  It took me three days to deliver my first order.

Two nights ago I dreamed I was taking a law school test.  Pretty standard, though notably absent was the usual angst that comes with test-taking dreams.

Last night I dreamed I was at work, trying to eat a steak for lunch off of a paper plate.  I was trying to eat it with a plastic spoon. 

Not particularly interesting, and no real analysis.  Just that I've been remembering dreams unusually well since I came on vacation. 

Not getting much reading done, but I am getting a lot of music listening done, and that's what's been really interesting me of late.  I've been doing the Classical Music 101 regimen, and I'm sort of ambivalent about it. 

I'm not sure how much I'm getting out of it, instruction-wise.  To the author's credit, he very much de-emphasizes facts and figures and rational analysis of music.  The focus instead is on listening to music and absorbing it.  He'll throw out things to notice as you listen, with the idea being that if you have your attention drawn to a phenomenon or technique, then spend some time consciously looking for it, you'll gradually start noticing it on an unconscious level, thereby deepening your non-rational appreciation of a piece of music.

I like this approach in theory.  In practice, the instructions for listening to a given piece vary between "too vague to be useful" ("Listen to this piece and see if you can notice its eloquent quality") and too specific for me to handle at my level ("Listen to the first movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, followed by the first movement of Schubert's Ninth Symphony.  How are they similar, and different, in stylistic, instrumental, and emotional technique?  How do they compare in terms of energy, speed, and dynamics?")  My response, as a result, is either question-begging in the first case ("I thought the piece you told me to search for the eloquence in was eloquent") or betray a general lost feeling ("I think...  Beethoven had more trumpets...").  In either case, I'm not sure how well the Plotkin instructions are actually deepening my understanding of the music.

At the same time, I'm quite enjoying it.  Plotkin does provide a lot of neat information, and he brings a lot of enthusiasm to the subject.  It's a fun book to read.  Even if the method isn't quite working, it's an enjoyable program.  And I suppose, since it's supposed to be developing subconscious listening skills, even if I am developing it's not the sort of thig I'd notice. 

But this is sort of beside the point, because regardless of whether Plotkin's specific contributions are helping, just listening to the music has been a lot of fun.  To start, it's been introducing me to a lot of music I hadn't listened to before.  I'd never really listened to Schubert before, probably for no better reason than that I found his name boring.  But now I've listened to and enjoyed two of his symphonies, and am interested in exploring more of his works.  The other interesting thing has been the emphasis on sitting and listening to the whole piece, start to finish, without doing anything else.  Usually how I work is to put music on while doing something else.  In terms of getting a feel for the music, this works well for loud and bombastic pieces that draw my attention from whatever it is I'm doing, but leads me to ignore more subtle music.  This is a somewhat basic revelation, but you notice a lot more when you just sit and concentrate on the music.  This drives me crazy on some of the longer pieces, but it also means I'm enjoying softer pieces I haven't taken notice of before.

Other than that, I'm about 100 pages into <i>Accelerando</i> and it has yet to grip me.  Interesting enough as I'm reading it, but I've yet to get myself to read more than one chapter in a sitting.  I've been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls DVDs (the second season, I think).  I've forced some board games on my family and gotten semi-positive reactions from YINSH and Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. I've been eating more and walking less, but that's pretty typical for Tahoe.  And I've been seeing lots of avians that you don't see in New York (Bluebirds, robins, woodpeckers, ducks, geese).  I saw Superman Returns and The Devil Wears Prada (Joint review for both: Eh.)

And that's about that.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on July 7, 2006 2:19 PM.

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