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Immersion is key. You have to surrender to its carefully constructed elements and let the full experience of this extraordinary collaboration wash over you. Over the weekend I had the same conversation with two writers who both agreed that reading has become a niche experience largely practised by a few who all agree with each other, therefore literature has lost much of its power to change the culture.


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So obliterated have our attention spans become that we lack the muscle and endurance to properly consume lengthy and difficult text. How can our splintered hive-mind that consumes ideas in haiku-like Twitter threads be expected to turn out the next Saul Bellow? Social media has had a deep effect on visual and installation art. Go see any live music now and your view of the stage is likely to be impeded by a wall of smart phones, as people have less of an experience of the show and more of an experience mediating their experience of the show.

Women watch themselves being looked at. We look at art. But we also look at other people watching us looking at art. In a thought-provoking essay for literary magazine Kill Your Darlings , critic Cher Tan asked what happens to culture when it gets fed through the social media machine? Answer: it becomes flatter, and much less interesting.

What this constant social media mediation does to your experience of art is subtle and personal. But how wonderful is the effect of the minor and major!

How can art touch your soul when your soul is busy posing on Instagram? | Music | The Guardian

How astounding that the change of half a tone, the entrance of a minor third instead of a major, at once and inevitably forces upon us an anxious painful feeling, from which again we are just as instantaneously delivered by the major. The Adagio lengthens in the minor the expression of the keenest pain and becomes even a convulsive wail. Dance music in the minor seems to indicate the failure of that trifling happiness which we ought rather to despise, seems to speak of the attainment of a lower end with toil and trouble.

The inexhaustibleness of possible melodies corresponds to the inexhaustibleness of nature in difference of individuals, physiognomies, and courses of life. The transition from one key to an entirely different one, since it altogether breaks the connection with what went before, is like death, for the individual ends in it; but the will which appeared in this individual lives after him as before him, appearing in other individuals, whose consciousness, however, has no connection with his.

But it must never be forgotten, in the investigation of all these analogies I have pointed out, that music has no direct, but merely an indirect relation to them, for it never expresses the phenomenon but only the inner nature, the in-itself of all phenomena, the will itself. It does not therefore express this or that particular and definite joy, this or that sorrow, or pain, or horror, or delight, or merriment, or peace of mind; but joy, sorrow, pain, horror, delight, merriment, peace of mind themselves , to a certain extent in the abstract, their essential nature, without accessories, and therefore without their motives.

Yet we completely understand them in this extracted quintessence. Hence it arises that our imagination is so easily excited by music, and now seeks to give form to that invisible yet actively moved spirit world which speaks to us directly, and clothe it with flesh and blood, i. This is the origin of the song with words, and finally of the opera, the text of which should therefore never forsake that subordinate position in order to make itself the chief thing and the music a mere means of expressing it, which is a great misconception and a piece of utter perversity; for music always expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves, and therefore their differences do not always affect it.

It is precisely this universality, which belongs exclusively to it, together with the greatest determinateness, that gives music the high worth which it has as the panacea for all our woes. Thus, if music is too closely united to the words, and tries to form itself according to the events, it is striving to speak a language which is not its own. There was something about it. I heard all their music, along with Mitch Miller and Burl Ives. They was pretty good but the Beatles were something special. In other words, they really did have something that was attractive, even to an unbiased five-year-old.

And there were other songs. It fascinates me now looking back that even at a very young age, I had strong likes and dislikes, the same way that I do now. We had just met, and I was giving a class to people from the arts, entertainment, music industry, and Peter walked in, this tall lanky guy from drawling Minnesota.

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Himmelman: Your father thought that I might have been mentally ill in some way or just mentally slow because the way I speak is so much slower than you New Yorkers. Jacobson : So it was a very interesting interface when we hit it off, using my introduction before about music and soul and spirit, I found it fascinating that I, coming from a traditional background where spirituality is very much a part of the system, but it is a traditional background, and Peter coming from a place that had been turned off from Judaism, with goatees or chocolate chip cookies, or whatever, the bureaucracy of it, and we were really able to communicate.

So I want to ask you this. When you started playing music in a more serious way, how would you describe the soul connection? Are there words for it or is it just that music has its own language? Is there a way to bridge the two worlds? Can you describe the spiritual journey you went through, or you still go through, when you play or listen?

How do you see music in the context of a spiritual thing, in other words, do you identify with that parable that I mentioned before about music being like the wings and a way for a soul to move from one place to the next? Himmelman: Well, there are a number of great parables.

Part 2. Music Quotes That Are…

Somebody told me this once. Painting is a light refracting material which depicts things in a physical world. And then you have music which has no physical substance at all. For me, growing up not using the term soul or spirit, and for that matter people have all sorts of stereotypes that they can come and apply to those terms, so what I found moving when I hear a live band, for example, a rock band which is somehow the music that I most readily respond to is this irrepressible laughter that I would sometimes get that would fill up my body and I guess you could say my soul to such an extent that it was actually such a surprise.

I never had such a powerful experience. I could not repress my laughter for the way that all the instruments played together with each other, the way they were connected. Jacobson : But think for a moment from a secular point of view, taking G-d out of the picture for a moment, how do you think human beings would have innovated a language like that? Where did it come from? Did you ever think about who was the first person who sang a song and under what circumstances?

Himmelman: You know, somebody would hear birds and people learn by imitation, so it would be natural to hear a bird, for example, or a howling wolf or something and try to imitate that. Certainly the sound of rain and rhythms could be imitated. Beating out rhythms on logs and taking a piece of stretched out skin and turning it into a string and hearing it drone, sounding something like the wind.

I would imagine the first thing was trying to imitate sounds in nature. To have them at their disposal. Call 1- or write to us at wisdomreb meaningfullife.


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  • My question to you is this. Rosh Hashanah is coming up. And on Rosh Hashanah they blow the shofar in the synagogues. I guess its role is to pierce through and make you come back to your senses, remember things and priorities and get everything straight. But I think it really works well. In other words, is one or another more powerful when it comes to song and music? Jacobson : You sound a little solemn now, you know. Himmelman : Why thank you.

    In Chassidic thought it talks about the difference between music of the East and music of the West, that Arabic music is very melancholy and haunting because Ishmael, the son of Abraham, comes from chessed the attribute of kindness , and therefore, their pleasure, their delight, and entertainment, comes from the opposite. So their songs are very gevurahdik , from the gevurah the attribute of strictness side of things.

    And Western music comes from Eisav, the son of Isaac. Western music is much more upbeat because they come from gevurah , so their entertainment and their pleasure comes from the opposite extreme which is chessed. Himmelman : I have to tell you that when I was in Israel a couple of week ago I was really in love with that Arabic music on the radio station. I was tuned in all the time. But who knows? Jacobson : Peter, the first time you came to see me, if I remember, the next day you called me and said that you had composed a song.

    Do you remember the name of the song? I remember. I always find that pretty cool. Himmelman : Well, the whole story works out well. I have four children and sometimes I say that the kids were born as a result of this blues singer who I think died of alcohol poisoning in Minneapolis. How could that come to be, one asks? I got to know him and he introduced me to this lawyer who was I think doing something in the music business in Minneapolis.

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    And Kenny Vance was supposed to come listen to my show down at the Ritz in New York City, listen to my band, and give me an appraisal of what he thought about the band. Get him out of here.

    He named all the names of all the people in the entertainment business and he was trying to freak me out. It just was like some archaic tradition from a Sholom Aleichem story.