Interesting but disturbing read

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Cucco, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    It's a long article, but much like a train wreck, once you start, you'll be hard pressed to look away.

    I think this speaks volumes about the state of classical music and obviously, something needs to happen.

    For those of you who may be unfamiliar with our Metro system in DC, it's very much like any other subway system (except that much of it is above ground as well). This particular platform is one of the busiest (if not THE busiest) in the system. On a Friday morning at rush-hour, it's often difficult to not get run over by the quantity of people!

    (You'll have to copy paste...I've spent 5 minutes trying to get the RO site to post the link correctly and it just won't...sorry)


    Then pass on to your friends.

    Then begin your own personal crusade to get people into the concert halls!


  2. CombatWombat

    CombatWombat Active Member

    Copy/paste won't work.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus had a short lived show of her own after Seinfeld stopped. She played a jazz singer. She was short of money and decided to play in the subway (NY) to raise some cash. Someone who regularly played the subway took pity on her and let her use his spot and went so far as to tell her the "secret" - John Denver. Well, she thanks him but has no intention of selling out. Starts singing standards - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, Embraceable You, etc. Same reaction as describe in the Post story. Finally, in desperation, she starts in "You fill up my senses..." A crowd immediately forms, money is thrown, applause....
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Yeah...for some reason, you have to copy each line individually then paste each one individually into your browser.

    It's a pain, but it will work.
  5. ptr

    ptr Active Member

    Working link :

  6. uncruss

    uncruss Guest

    I posted on this subject a few days ago on the thread about Los Angeles' commercial classical music station going to country. The article proves the point: Today's lifestyle to too hectic to allow most people the luxury of appreciating anything but the most "in your face" mindless trash.

    It was perhaps not a great idea to put Bell on display during rush hour. Most people don't have a moment to spare then, even of they want to. I doubt I myself would have been able to afford more than a few seconds under those circumstances no matter how brilliant I thought the musician.

    It was revealing that, without a marquee around him, any great talent will be ignored. The vast majority of people do not hear music;; they hear noise. They have no clue whether the performer is good or bad; they make decisions based on name recognition and peer pressure.

    I wonder how many people would have stopped had the performer been an anonymous rock star singing somebody else's music? I suspect anybody singing recognizable tunes would have fared better.

    The entire situation makes me sick. -- Russ
  7. dementedchord

    dementedchord Well-Known Member

    yep... pathetic is'nt it???? joshuah bell for god's sake... but the we are talking the l'enfant plaza station too.... my ex's office is at l'enfant... one of the busiest stations in town....
  8. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    I think that this is less of a statement about classical music and more of one on how our society has become too busy or too greedy for it's own good.

    Like you's rush hour. A lot of people can't just stop and listen. I know that if I were 20 minutes late and gave the excuse that I was listening to some of the best music ever in the train station, my boss would have a fit.

    What get's me more than the people ignoring him are the people who are buying lottery tickets rather than throwing a buck in the case. There's not much respect for street musicians these days, ever for the very talented ones. I think that a lot of people see them as just fancy beggars.

    I really liked the comment about the ipod:
    I dugg the article. Digg it and we'll try to get word out. WAKE UP AMERICA!

  9. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member


    I am not prepared for a chili-dog when dining at The Ritz,

    I would not be prepared for caviar when at the ball park,

  10. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    DC's a different arena...

    First, most of the jobs here are based on "flex time." In other words - get 8.5 hours of work in during a day and they don't care when you show up. Plus, most jobs are government jobs with a LOT of flexibility (everyone here is a boss of someone else).

    Second, because of the MASSIVE rush hour in DC, most employers give a lot of slack regarding time in.
  11. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    great read cucco. Have not been able to come to any personal conclusions on what the exact implications are, but thanks for pointing it out.

  12. xxm

    xxm Guest

    Unfortunately, this it is not new!
    Christian Ferras, in the '60 played on the street in Paris... and of course got similar results as J.Bell... sad.

    Ferras played a Strad as well.

    In the case you haven't heard about Ferras:
  13. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member


    Pardon my negativity (I've been dishing out lots of it lately), but I found this experiment to be trite and contrived, and the article itself was a trial to read through to the end.

    What did they *really* expect? If any of the writers who worked on that piece had been on their way to work that morning, unaware of the experiment, would they have stopped? I doubt it.

    But if they stood J. Bell in the same place at midday or at 5pm, the result might have been very different. Likewise if they stood him in a city park at lunchtime, or outside of a concert hall on a Saturday night. But neither of those scenarios is going to provide anything worth writing a finger-wagging editorial about, let alone provide an opportunity to show off your pretentiousness by weaving famous philosophers, poets and social observers into the fabric. As we used to say in Communication Philosophy 101, these guys have "...put Descartes before the Morse".

    Bah humbug! :roll:
  14. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Gene Weingarten is basically paid to be an arrogant snob comic. His usual beat is making fun of people from red states. So for him it is branching out to show that Washington commuters are philistines. As you say, not as much an "experiment" as a rigged piece of street theater. Classical music may be in trouble, but the fact that people running to catch a subway can't recognize a virtuoso playing a Strad is not proof of it.
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    The few who stopped to listen that weren't children were musicians to some extent. Contrived or not, it does not surprise me that the majority were obvlivious to the playing.

    Even some of the people I work with who have played an instrument in their life(usually clarinet in high school or piano as a child) really have no concept of what makes a good musician. mainly because what they considered "playing music" was forced upon them out of need for easy credit or to please their parents desire to give them "culture".

    The ability to appreciate music or "art" is lost on most people. They will acknowlege art only by it's merit according to others opinions. We live in an American Bandstand world.

    Q:"What did you like about it?"
    A: "It's got a great beat and you can dance to it."
  16. rfreez

    rfreez Active Member

    it occurred to me... what would have happened if it was George Michael and an acoustic guitar in the same place, at the same time? a lot more people would have made the time, no?
    i agree that the article was tiresome in places and i had to skip some bits... but the experiment and its review, by and large, IMHO, do offer us some things to think about.

  17. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Perhaps... But only if they knew it was George Michael! And most wouldn't believe it anyway, which I think was part of the Joshua Bell problem. Not only was he not dressed in the manner people are used to seeing him, there was none of the hoo-ha or fuss that one would expect if a performer of his calibre was playing for free on the street. So, even if someone said, "That's Joshua Bell (or George Michael)", the cynical response would be "yeah right, as if Joshua Bell (or George Michael) would be busking in the subway - that guy doesn't need to busk". The context is too wrong to be believable.

    As for making the time to stop and watch, that is only possible if you have the time up your sleeve in the first place - in other words, you are early for work. As a person living and working in a city in the Western world, most people on their way to work invariably have little time to spare. And no-one wants to be late for work; no matter what you do for a job, being late is generally frowned upon, either by your boss or your clients. Sadly, telling your boss or clients that you were late because you stopped to watch a world-famous musician busking in the subway just isn't going to hold water!

    It would be nice, however. :D
  18. leonin

    leonin Guest

    I suppose that you can look at the article in a positive or negative light. You can take the doom and gloom perspective and say that most people did not recognize a world class performance, etc. Or you can say that even though these people did not expect to hear music, and were busy going to work, some of them cared enough to give him money. In fact he earned more than $30, which is not bad for an hour's work. It is certainly a living wage. More over, by playing classical music at locations such as this it exposes people to the music who may not ordinarily hear it. It also makes the morning commute that much more enjoyable. So on the whole I think that it was positive, both for the commuters, and for Bell.
  19. DavidSpearritt

    DavidSpearritt Well-Known Member

    I think Seth Godin sums it up pretty well.

    I remember traveling on the subway in Paris in 2003 and some old geezer got on at a stop at one end of the car and played his accordion while walking up the car, then he walked back down shaking a cup for coins. The train was very crowded. But the playing was magnificent, so French and so infectious, it was simply exquisite, but no-one gave him any money.

    Mind you, he was one of many great musicians I heard working the Paris subway.
  20. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    These are good points. Whether $30/hour is a living wage for a musician of JB's calibre is another question, however!

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