fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

November Is Mostly About Music

It's not like I haven't intended to write blog entries. I've just been a tad busy.

So, let's see. I don't remember what I did on the 1st, other than zumba and trying to get some housework done. On the 2nd, I watched the Phillies whup the Source of All Evil in the Universe. That proved to be for naught, alas, as the Evil Pinstriped Ones won the World Series on the 4th. I didn't watch much of that game as I was in a very good mood after Bollywood dance class and was having a hard time sitting still. And I wanted to go to bed at a decent hour.

Anyway, the 3rd featured a Music and the Brain lecture at the Library of Congress. Dr. Robin Sylvan spoke on "Trance Formation: Music, Trance, Religious Experience, and the Brain." The gist of his talk was that, not only do people from a wide variety of religious backgrounds experience trance effects from music, but people with no particular religious feelings do also. In particular, he studied the rave scene and jam bands and found that both induce what he called religious experiences. However, he was a bit vague about how to define a religious experience. He's had a collaboration with a neuroscientist who has done brain imaging of these trance states, but the data are still being analyzed. So the talk was interesting, but not entirely satisfying.

On the 5th, I went to a concert at the Kennedy Center. This was part of the Pro Musica Hebraica series and featured the Apollo Ensemble of Amsterdam performing Baroque Jewish music. I've raised the question before of what makes a piece of music Jewish and it's a good one to ask in this case, since none of the pieces sounded significantly different in style than other Baroque music. I'd write more about the individual pieces, but I've misplaced the program and don't trust my memory. I will note that the Dutch ambassador attended the concert and neither wore a bowler hat nor was rude. (The former may have something to do with the ambassador being a woman. I also realize that only about two people reading this will get the reference.)

Friday, the 6th, featured another Music and the Brain lecture. This time Norman Middleton and Jessica Krash continued their series of talks on "Dangerous Music." The topics ranged from arson attributed to heavy metal to the use of music as torture. (Apparently, country music is the most effective. I do not consider that surprising.) The fundamental issue is what meaning music has. People tend to assume that lyrics are the meaning of music, but that isn't necessarily the case. People don't react as strongly to violent lyrics in quiet acoustic music as they do to violent lyrics in, say, rap. This is a subject I find intriguing since I listen to a lot of music with lyrics in languages I don't know. I often believe that I know what a song is about anyway, but I could be way off base.

As for the weekend, I went to a story swap on Saturday night, which included my traditional failure to find my way around Bethesda, aka the land of invisible street signs and no landmarks. The highlight of the evening was Marc's version of a medieval German-Jewish story. And coming back to Sunday, once again the only real event of the day was zumba. I also napped a lot, which means I needed the sleep.

I will spare you a rant about Virgin Mobile and FedEx. But I will mention two celebrity deaths. The anthropologist, Claude Levi-Strauss, made it to 100, which is old enough for at least half his ideas to have fallen out of favor. He seemed to have taken that better than Margaret Mead did. Dr. Hugh Morgan Hill, better known as Brother Blue, only fell into greater favor by his death at age 88. He expanded the storytelling world, with warmth and encouragement. Blue decorated himself with images of butterflies and I can only think of him in the context of the butterfly flapping its wings and creating storms around the world. He was a true force of nature and I feel honored to have met him, albeit briefly.

Don't expect much writing the rest of this month either, by the way, as I have much hecticity ahead.
Tags: baseball, celebrity death watch, music, neuroscience, storytelling

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