#1
I found a video and an article I think everyone can appreciate here.

This is Joshua Bell, world class violinist, and one of the most famous living performers today at a metro station playing incognito to an audience during rush hour in Washington D.C. as a social "experiment."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw

The result seems to me to be something you'd expect, but that doesn't make watching it an easier. It's very depressing.

The full article on the process is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

So, is this proof of cultural inferiority? Evidence of a desensitized middle class? A prime example of the impersonal information age? Discuss.
#2
Quote by Erc
I found a video and an article I think everyone can appreciate here.

This is Joshua Bell, world class violinist, and one of the most famous living performers today at a metro station playing incognito to an audience during rush hour in Washington D.C. as a social "experiment."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw

The result seems to me to be something you'd expect, but that doesn't make watching it an easier. It's very depressing.

The full article on the process is http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

So, is this proof of cultural inferiority? Evidence of a desensitized middle class? A prime example of the impersonal information age? Discuss.



I don't think so.

Book a gig, sell tickets..... the people that show up will appreciate it. Its not like Joshua Bell plays to empty concert halls.

That was just an inappropriate setting. I mean its a metro station during freaking rush hour. what would you expect? The people there are trying to get somewhere.... They are not there to hear him play.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 29, 2008,
#3
well from a "middle class" standpoint i like violin but i'm sure i'm in the minority, i know very few people that even given that they had time would want to listen to violin music. his choice of song there was VERY well played and sounded good, it didn't draw me in personally however. i ride the fence on classical music, some i enjoy greatly, some not so much (im like this with all music however) the average person unfortunately just wants to hear a couple chords and some cheesy lyrics. a soulful solo violin doesn't fulfilll their musical appetite. i can honestly say i probably wouldn't want to listen to a solo violin unless the song being played was an all out masterpiece. i would however like to hear 2 violins or a violin and a cello (violin and accompaniment of any kind) i'm the same with guitar, unless the guitarist is phenomenal and playing classical style or something that mimics it i probably wouldn't want to hear a single guitarist either, at least not for an extended period of time.

in the end i'm with Guitarmunky, although his performance was well given and not well received the response should be expected considering it was in a metro station during rush hour. i have a feeling that if he had been booked (as example) even in a very classy restaraunt singularly or with some form of accompaniment he would have obviously had all eyes on him.
#4
I've had to commute to work from the 'burbs to Center City Philadelphia via train. I've never heard anyone play in 30th Street Station or Suburban Station, but I assure you, I would have sprinted to my job as fast as usual if someone were playing.
#5
JUst because someone doesn't pay attention to music when thye have things more important in their minds doesn't mean they are "culturally inferior", just as you aren't considered an immoral brute when you don't give money to beggars when you are rushing to the hospital because your wife is in labour....
#6
There's more going on here than simply the "rush to get to work".

Don't you think if people were TOLD the value of what was in front of thier eyes
and ears they would have MADE the time to stop and listen? Of course they would
have.

They didn't recognize the value. Why didn't they is the question?

I'd contend its zombification by the mass media. We're told what
to like, what to want, what we need, what has value, what is worthless... Reality
is more real on TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, internet than our own lives.
No one was TELLING those people "there's a lot of value in what that guy's playing.
Stop and listen." So, it failed to register any kind of significance to them, outside
of static to be ignored on the way to having the kind of day they've been TOLD is
the way they're SUPPOSED to be spending the day.

I think the outcome is sad, but not surprising. If you're a fan of conspiracy theories
it might even be sinister -- are we purposefully being put to sleep? hmmmm ....
#7
Quote by gonzaw
JUst because someone doesn't pay attention to music when thye have things more important in their minds doesn't mean they are "culturally inferior"


exactly.

Also, had they advertised it as an event, Im sure the place would have been packed with people that actually wanted to listen to him play.

Culture is alive and well, but the common sense of the creators of this experiment was a bit lax IMO.
"they don't like classical music ???????....... how dare them !!!!!!!! ...... they must be inferior to us superior classical music lovers".

A bit of biased snobbery & foolishness IMO
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 29, 2008,
#8
To me, it's not surprising, and really no biggie. People at a DC metro station during rush hour are in "work mode".
#9
Quote by GuitarMunky
exactly.

Also, had they advertised it as an event, Im sure the place would have been packed with people that actually wanted to listen to him play.

Culture is alive and well, but the common sense of the creators of this experiment was a bit lax IMO.
"they don't like classical music ???????....... how dare them !!!!!!!! ...... they must be inferior to us superior classical music lovers".

A bit of biased snobbery & foolishness IMO


It has to do also with the attention span of the person.
If I see a violinist once in my lifetime while in the metro, I will pay less attention to him or remember him less than if I see the same violinist everyday on the TV or posters or hearing him on the radio eveyr day, etc...

A supposed "unpopular" (since basicly no one was told that violinist was going to play there) player in the streets will make much less impact than a "popular" one or one that is exposed to people for longer periods of time, that is just how memory and attention works...
#10
Culture is alive and well, but the common sense of the creators of this experiment was a bit lax IMO.
"they don't like classical music ???????....... how dare them !!!!!!!! ...... they must be inferior to us superior classical music lovers".

A bit of biased snobbery & foolishness IMO


Did you even read the article? It had nothing to do with musical elitism or the shortsightedness of "artistic" preference (assuming there can even exist such a thing when we appreciate artistry at its highest levels, where the means remain as is, and where art is not reduced to a commodity like food or fine dining that we pick and choose in accordance to our whimsical nature). It is about not only identifying art, but choosing art, and in the grander scheme of things, whether in life we are willing to merely look around to see that we aren't missing something great in favor of the comfort given by our schedules. What has happened is that over 1000 people choose that they rather mind their own business then investigate.

At the end of the day, it seems that we are left largely with the feeling that art as a transcendental idea has died; being unable to free itself from the bonds of "business," which has so appropriately drowned it, and has then had it's status cemented as aspect of leisure-class.

Also, for the record....

So, is this proof of cultural inferiority? Evidence of a desensitized middle class? A prime example of the impersonal information age? Discuss.


Those are only a mere few of the conclusions that can be drawn from the situation, and aren't necessarily advocated by mine own self. I was hoping people would see them more as examples to be added too rather than arguments to be refuted (which is fine really, but it seems to me that some has posted only with that purpose in mind, and to be honest I'm more interested in the exploration of the idea as a whole, then within a narrow schema developed by focused argument).


Don't you think if people were TOLD the value of what was in front of thier eyes
and ears they would have MADE the time to stop and listen? Of course they would
have.

They didn't recognize the value. Why didn't they is the question?


Precisely. This article wasn't just about whether or not someone would recognize any old musician playing popular tunes on a violin in the street, it was about whether or not someone would recognize an internationally renowned musician playing some of the world's most beloved music on a 3.5million dollar Stradivarius, played at the most artistic level and to see whether or not those persons who heard cared enough to stop their life for a few moments to experience an oddity.

If you're a fan of conspiracy theories
it might even be sinister -- are we purposefully being put to sleep?


The theorists would have quite a time with that, that is for sure.
#11
Very interesting. Thanks for the post.

"It's easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle, than it is for a man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

In other words, would you recognize your maker, even if he was playing a violin ina DC mall?

I think most people were intentionally ignoring him. Very sad. What could possibly be more important than a beautiful gift from the heaven's?

If only .01% of the population can actually stop and acknowledge the talent of greatness of someone else, how small the number must be to see the greatness in one's self...
Last edited by BeerChurch at Aug 30, 2008,
#12
Quote by Erc
It is about not only identifying art, but choosing art...


This, I believe, is the most important thing yet said in the thread.

Although, obviously I'm with edg.
#13
Quote by Freepower
This, I believe, is the most important thing yet said in the thread.

Although, obviously I'm with edg.


choosing art over getting to work on time ?

gimme a break.

Quote by Erc
It had nothing to do with musical elitism


your implied conclusions do though.

People choosing to get where they're going over stopping and listening to Joshua Bell play is more an indicator of the inappropriateness of the situation rather than the inferiority of culture. It might make you feel good about yourself to look down at society that way, but it really misses the truth by a long shot.

Quote by edg
There's more going on here than simply the "rush to get to work".

Don't you think if people were TOLD the value of what was in front of thier eyes
and ears they would have MADE the time to stop and listen? Of course they would
have.

They didn't recognize the value. Why didn't they is the question?

I'd contend its zombification by the mass media. We're told what
to like, what to want, what we need, what has value, what is worthless... Reality
is more real on TV, newspapers, magazines, radio, internet than our own lives.
No one was TELLING those people "there's a lot of value in what that guy's playing.
Stop and listen." So, it failed to register any kind of significance to them, outside
of static to be ignored on the way to having the kind of day they've been TOLD is
the way they're SUPPOSED to be spending the day.

I think the outcome is sad, but not surprising. If you're a fan of conspiracy theories
it might even be sinister -- are we purposefully being put to sleep? hmmmm ....


So people need to be told the value of something in order for them to pay attention ??

I don't know about you, but I decide things like that for myself. Someone telling me to stop and pay attention would have been like someone stopping me to give me a religious pamphlet. That would have turned me away if anything. its like ..... thats my business not yours..... and btw Im in a hurry so leave me alone.

It's easy for us to look down at the rest of society as Zombies or desensitized. Everyone loves to say...."look at those idiots, if they only knew....." .

In reality those people might teach us a thing or two about culture, and many of them are likely as enlightened as us about the value of the arts.

The truth is, it was an inappropriate setting for a concert. It was unannounced, and it was in a place that people were least likely to stop and listen. Why didnt they try this experiment in a park or something? hmmmm.... probably because the experiment would have turned out different.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 30, 2008,
#14
Quote by Erc
Precisely. This article wasn't just about whether or not someone would recognize any old musician playing popular tunes on a violin in the street, it was about whether or not someone would recognize an internationally renowned musician playing some of the world's most beloved music on a 3.5million dollar Stradivarius, played at the most artistic level and to see whether or not those persons who heard cared enough to stop their life for a few moments to experience an oddity.


But who are they to say what is "the most artistic level"? To some people, the stripped down feeling of bands like the Hives is art. To some, extreme experimentation like Mr. Bungle is art. Saying that a violinist on an expensive instrument is the highest level of art completely ignores opinion and basic human nature and preference.
Quote by dudetheman
So what? I wasted like 5 minutes watching DaddyTwoFoot's avatar.


Metalheads are the worst thing that ever happened to metal.
#15
if it was me, and i was in some kind of rush, i would definitely have not stopped to listen. why? i don't like it. does that make me less 'cultured'? i don't know. but the fact that i do enjoy many other classical songs pretty much shows that i'm not guided by the masses.
that experimented was badly prepared. that's it. they didn't set it up at a right place, not at a right time, didn't advertise, and the most important part: they didn't choose a 'beautiful' song. in beautiful i refer to something most people would enjoy listening to. for example, i'm very sure most people would rather listen to mozart's 'rondo alla turca' than the song which was played there.
#16
Quote by GuitarMunky

I don't know about you, but I decide things like that for myself.


I can only speak from my own perception and personally I've noticed too many
"oddities" in what I notice, what I don't notice and what I notice but then
immediately forget only to notice again sometime later, to believe there's not some
clues there that warrants a really close look.

If you really take a close look at it the ego/mind is VERY good at focusing your
perception on what IT wants you to see. There's also excellent evidence to
show that the something in the mind "fills in the gaps" to fragments of perception
in order to create what you think is a continuous reality.

What IS the YOU that's in control? If you start down the path of questioning it to
find some answers, you might get some suprising answers. If you don't question it,
all you have is your unquestioned assumptions which can turn out to be quite
illusory. There may just be a vast iceberg under the tiny tip of what you think of
as all there is.

So, if you are indeed always aware and making your "own" decisions out of
perfect or near perfect awareness, I congradulate you. I'd say you're probably in
a very small minority.

Quote by GuitarMunky


So people need to be told the value of something in order for them to pay attention ??



Not always, but I think that's the way it works most of the time. What's brought to
your attention and what is generally thought of as "things of value" you get fed
from outside yourself. It's so pervasive and constant it's not even questioned.
Last edited by edg at Aug 30, 2008,
#17
Quote by z4twenny
well from a "middle class" standpoint i like violin but i'm sure i'm in the minority, i know very few people that even given that they had time would want to listen to violin music. his choice of song there was VERY well played and sounded good, it didn't draw me in personally however. i ride the fence on classical music, some i enjoy greatly, some not so much (im like this with all music however) the average person unfortunately just wants to hear a couple chords and some cheesy lyrics. a soulful solo violin doesn't fulfilll their musical appetite. i can honestly say i probably wouldn't want to listen to a solo violin unless the song being played was an all out masterpiece. i would however like to hear 2 violins or a violin and a cello (violin and accompaniment of any kind) i'm the same with guitar, unless the guitarist is phenomenal and playing classical style or something that mimics it i probably wouldn't want to hear a single guitarist either, at least not for an extended period of time.

in the end i'm with Guitarmunky, although his performance was well given and not well received the response should be expected considering it was in a metro station during rush hour. i have a feeling that if he had been booked (as example) even in a very classy restaraunt singularly or with some form of accompaniment he would have obviously had all eyes on him.


+1 to that. I'm not really a big fan of listening to a single instrument and such, and even the slightest amount of accompaniment is what really makes it for me.
#19
your implied conclusions do though.

People choosing to get where they're going over stopping and listening to Joshua Bell play is more an indicator of the inappropriateness of the situation rather than the inferiority of culture. It might make you feel good about yourself to look down at society that way, but it really misses the truth by a long shot.


I do not even know with absolute certainty that I would stop in the same situation. This isn't about me so please, don't insist that it be.

But who are they to say what is "the most artistic level"? To some people, the stripped down feeling of bands like the Hives is art. To some, extreme experimentation like Mr. Bungle is art. Saying that a violinist on an expensive instrument is the highest level of art completely ignores opinion and basic human nature and preference.


The only reason I mention instrument price is because I hope it better illustrates that there is an immense monetary value here, and with that realization, that the metaphor of "a diamond in the ruff" being all the more vivid.

Also to help you understand where I'm coming from, let me tell a short story. Some 2 years go I went to the Irish Dublin Festival at Ohio, one of the largest Irish culture festivals in the US. Flogging Molly was there, Seven Nations, just to name a two of the big "headliners," but while they probably drew the largest crowd, at another tent, there was a violinist and her band performing in designated to "modernized" traditional music. Her crowd was large no doubt, in fact it was huge, especially in light of space constraints but unlike the crowd gathered by our two rock sensations the demographic was all over the place. Young, old and middle aged, of all races (though it be limited due to the nature of the festival) had gathered to hear this woman, and what was most interesting was the likeness of all the responses. Never have I seen young sit somberly like the old and the old jump up and down like the young in most active participation of the music, and during a 20minute long improvisation section, there stood the crowd clapping along which I considered extraordinary. Not only was there amazing showmanship that intensified the audiences reactions, but there was that unique element, the element of "high artistry," that was able to gather such a diversified group and unify them so completely.

Those "high artists" are by no means genre exclusive, and these musicians are not bound by the idiom. That isn't to say though that the condemnation of idiomatic art work is justified. It may be true that my brother slept through a wonderful performance of a Mozart Concerto, which was lost due to it's archaisms, and sat on the edge of his seat at the performance of a Tchaikovsky Symphony, but that doesn't mean Tchaikovsky is a greater artist than Mozart was. Truly great works of art often reach beyond the idiom, but that isn't to say that the work or idiomatic art is illegitimate.
#20
“The most important thing in art is the frame. For painting: literally; for other arts: figuratively - because, without this humble appliance, you can't know where the art stops and the real world begins. You have to put a "box" around it because otherwise, what is that **** on the wall?”

- Frank Zappa

Puts it nicely into perspective, I feel.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.


Remember: A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

Click.
#21
Quote by Erc
"a diamond in the ruff"


I was going to attempt to puncture all the pomposity in this thread, but I think you managed to do that yourself.

This mysitcal, unique element you refer to seems to hold the ancient philosophical quality of "people seem to like it a lot" - which would make the violinist's preformance nothing like 'high art'.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#22
“The most important thing in art is the frame. For painting: literally; for other arts: figuratively - because, without this humble appliance, you can't know where the art stops and the real world begins. You have to put a "box" around it because otherwise, what is that **** on the wall?”

- Frank Zappa

Puts it nicely into perspective, I feel.


Seems as though Zappa read Kant!

And from the article on the video...

"MARK LEITHAUSER HAS HELD IN HIS HANDS MORE GREAT WORKS OF ART THAN ANY KING OR POPE OR MEDICI EVER DID. A senior curator at the National Gallery, he oversees the framing of the paintings. Leithauser thinks he has some idea of what happened at that Metro station.

'Let's say I took one of our more abstract masterpieces, say an Ellsworth Kelly, and removed it from its frame, marched it down the 52 steps that people walk up to get to the National Gallery, past the giant columns, and brought it into a restaurant. It's a $5 million painting. And it's one of those restaurants where there are pieces of original art for sale, by some industrious kids from the Corcoran School, and I hang that Kelly on the wall with a price tag of $150. No one is going to notice it. An art curator might look up and say: 'Hey, that looks a little like an Ellsworth Kelly. Please pass the salt.' "
#23
well maybe he should try it in the park or the beach to see if he attracts a crowd
Quote by Stress Cow
You know you're fucked up when the pit thinks you're a sick bastard.
#24
^^ are you kidding me?
are you saying that we should definitely know whose those paintings from or we're idiots?
dude i find those finds awful, and they ridicule the guy who painted them for they appear to be painted by kids.

clash of ideas. now whose opinion counts?
#25
There WAS that ONE person who stopped and looked for a long time. Even if there is just one person like that willing to make time to listen to some music then it's all good.
#26
Quote by RCalisto
^^ are you kidding me?
are you saying that we should definitely know whose those paintings from or we're idiots?
dude i find those finds awful, and they ridicule the guy who painted them for they appear to be painted by kids.

clash of ideas. now whose opinion counts?

The point is that we have to depend on others' opinions to learn to like something. We rarely like talent simply because it's so good, but actually because it has been advertised and talked about.

It isn't about knowing the name of the artist, but recognising how good they are without having to be told so.

Even the experts from whom we get our opinions have just been educated by other experts, who if you go back far enough were told who is good by word of mouth, regardless of whether the "experts" themselves thought they were good.

This is a generalisation, I know, but it's a fact of life that nothing succeeds with just one person liking it.


Edti: Interesting.
A couple of minutes into it, something revealing happens. A woman and her preschooler emerge from the escalator. The woman is walking briskly and, therefore, so is the child. She's got his hand.

"I had a time crunch," recalls Sheron Parker, an IT director for a federal agency. "I had an 8:30 training class, and first I had to rush Evvie off to his teacher, then rush back to work, then to the training facility in the basement."

Evvie is her son, Evan. Evan is 3.

You can see Evan clearly on the video. He's the cute black kid in the parka who keeps twisting around to look at Joshua Bell, as he is being propelled toward the door.

"There was a musician," Parker says, "and my son was intrigued. He wanted to pull over and listen, but I was rushed for time."

So Parker does what she has to do. She deftly moves her body between Evan's and Bell's, cutting off her son's line of sight. As they exit the arcade, Evan can still be seen craning to look. When Parker is told what she walked out on, she laughs.

"Evan is very smart!"

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.
Last edited by blue_strat at Aug 31, 2008,
#27
In hindsight...how very presumptuous the responses are...including mine...

I wonder how many people...I bet there were quite a few...that said to themselves, "Holy crap, that's Joshua Bell or that's some incredible fiddle work......too bad I'm late for work to even acknowledge this."
#28
^^ that's the least you could expect from a kid who has never seen such thing.
everyone who had never seen a violin, or someone playing live at all, would surely want to stop and see what's happening there.
where's that sound coming from?