Sunday, June 30, 2013

Music Notes

July is my favorite month. Everything is vibrant and blooming.  Our garden is providing us with daily tomatoes and green beans. I love sitting out in the backyard in the evening as twilight turns to nightfall (in spite of the minor annoyance of mosquitoes) and watch the fire from the fire pit with its endless variations of color and light. Listening to music outdoors is a special enhancement.

On one of those lovely evenings last week Malinda and I were talking about how the advent of recorded music has changed what music means to people.  Before the invention of the phonograph which was invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, all music that was heard was "live." A century ago people gathered on summer evenings in parks to hear musicians play. Music was a social event. Since then, with the invention of the radio and television, people began to stay home and listen to music, first together as a family in the living room (where the one black and white TV and radio were located), then increasingly with more technological advances people began listening to music on their Ipods with earbuds.

Our attitudes toward music has changed a lot because of this.  In the centuries before Edison's invention, people could only experience the music together. Today we press a button and can select from millions of recordings. Via TuneIn internet radio we can listen to Radio Antarctica or my favorite station, "P2" on Danish radio, which features a nice mix of classical, jazz, and contemporary music.

It's wonderful, isn't it?  Or is it?  Malinda and I were wondering whether it might not be better to experience music as people did centuries ago, when music meant more to people than it does today with our casual access to music. Did you know that in 1705, J.S. Bach walked from Arnstadt to Lübeck, a distance of more than 250 miles, and stayed nearly three months to hear the Abendmusik (evening concerts) of the famous Lübeck organist and composer, Dieterich Buxtehude. Can you imagine how much effort it took for him to walk 250 miles just to hear music?  Wow, times have changed, haven't they?

When we come into the sanctuary on a Sunday morning, we will hear "live" music.  This gives us an opportunity to hear music the way it was meant to be heard: in a group setting, not in isolation, and experiencing the rich experience of watching it being performed "live."


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