The most important things in life are the things you do every day.I put the card back in the rack.
Later I realized what a profoundly wise thing was being said by that card. And I have adopted it as one of the central principles of my life. I've made a short list of things which I try to do every day. There are four of them besides the obvious "eat and sleep". Each of the four is a one syllable word beginning with W.
The moral of this story is that life-changing wisdom can be found in unexpected places.
Much more recently I received the alumni magazine from my alma mater, The Herb Alpert School of Music. It's a slick book filled with double talk, hyperbole and more double talk, just what you'd expect from an organization experiencing a huge infusion of cash which it hasn't begun to spend.
Deep in an essay by David Rosenboom (he's dean of The Herb Alpert School of Music) is a quote from composer Luciano Berio, who I remember visited The Herb Alpert School of Music once. In David's article Sr. Berio is quoted thus:
The most meaningful analysis of a symphony is another symphony.Like with the greeting card, after a while the utter unassailable wisdom of this sentence struck me. What an unexpected source for such intelligence. Wouldn't it be nice if every music theorist, professor of composition and music critic has this phrase posted, possibly in needlepoint, above their computer monitors.
Last week I met composer Paul Bailey in Old Pasadena for caffeine and conversation. I really enjoy talking to him. We know each other because we both blog. It was only our second meeting. There has yet to be an awkward silence. He told me about his ensemble's recent performance at Redcat. He let me try his Kaosillator (a few seconds of fun).
At one point he told me about a new member of the ensemble who was glad to be in a group where the music was still written down. He emphasized this point by saying (metaphorically) that she was "happy to be in a place where they still wear shoes." I immediately said "that would make a good title for a piece".
It may take me a bit of time to recognize actual wisdom, but I can identify a good title immediately.
Later our conversation continued fitfully as we walked on Colorado Boulevard looking for a bank teller machine. Among the topics I would have liked to discuss further with Paul were contrapuntal harmony, inexact repetition and the way a composer's music is affected by choice of software.
Instead I decided to follow Berio's suggestion that the best way to discuss music is by writing more music.
I have composed a short piece entitled "Happy To Be In A Place Where They Still Wear Shoes (for Paul Bailey)" He'll know what it's about, I think.
When I got home that afternoon I wrote his quote on a post-it note. I also wrote down the flute melody of the piece which I had just learned from a passing flock of parrots.
65 seconds Copyright (c) 2008 David Ocker
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I took all the pictures in this post in Old Pasadena on the day I met Paul. It is near the Summer Solstice and details on the north side of buildings are actually getting sunlight. Unfortunately I chose a time a bit too late in the afternoon. Click the pictures for enlargements.
The last picture shows a wall with missing plaster revealing an old painted sign. I've enhanced the letters a bit with Photoshop. It seems to say "The Bargain". The Bargain What, I wonder.
The most recent Herb Alpert School of Music Alumni Magazine doesn't seem to be online yet. Someday it might appear here. (Update: I found the Dean's article here. It won't last at that url I betcha. Updated Update: the article is now here.)
Mixed Meters has mentioned The Herb Alpert School of Music previously in this post and this post. Be sure to read all the comments to the second "this post".
Paul blogs here. He twitters here. His ensemble PBE is playing in Whittier this Saturday on a concert called RealNewMusic2008 (can't find a link).
Shoe Tags: Herb Alpert School of Music. . . Paul Bailey. . . David Rosenboom. . . Luciano Berio. . . David Ocker. . . 30 Second Spot