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Thread: Virtuoso musician plays "Chaconne" on a $3.5mil violin in a subway - goes unnoticed.

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    Thread Killer Muckraker's Avatar
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    Virtuoso musician plays "Chaconne" on a $3.5mil violin in a subway - goes unnoticed.

    Pearls Before Breakfast - washingtonpost.com
    A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston's stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements. But on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell was just another mendicant, competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work...

    In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

    ...there was never a crowd, not even for a second.
    Is this an example of the "average" person's inability to appreciate beauty and art or is it that people are so caught up in their own little bubbles of existence that they often fail to observe anything outside the bubbles--unless it's something naked or something that runs them over in a crosswalk.
    "It seems foolhardy, redolent of danger, and doomed to failure. Otherwise, I can find no fault with it." --Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby)

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    Always Seeking LetThereBe's Avatar
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    ...or maybe the difference between a virtuoso and a street performer isn't so obvious in a loud subway station with terrible acoustics?

    Street musicians are just part of the city ambiance. It doesn't surprise me that one which was significantly better than average would go mostly unnoticed in a busy place.
    Serious as a heart attack...

    ...and twice as deadly.

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    Thread Killer Muckraker's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: LetThereBe View Post
    ...or maybe the difference between a virtuoso and a street performer isn't so obvious in a loud subway station with terrible acoustics?

    Street musicians are just part of the city ambiance. It doesn't surprise me that one which was significantly better than average would go mostly unnoticed in a busy place.
    Watch the video clip in the article. Joshua said the acoustics were surprisingly good and it sure doesn't sound like there is much background noise in the video.
    "It seems foolhardy, redolent of danger, and doomed to failure. Otherwise, I can find no fault with it." --Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby)

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    Waiting on Change Trojan_Ripper's Avatar
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    Great post Muckraker.

    I would love to see this done while people are returning home in the evening “less hurried” or if it had been staged where people had to wait before boarding. I can only hope the outcome would have been different.

    Heading TO work is somewhat different than heading HOME. More would have time to stop and appreciate his brilliance.
    I hate to say this was “elevator” music to their hurried ears, but it is in some respect; and yes, I think if it had been someone recognizable like Steven Tyler screaming out “I don’t want to miss a thing” the results would have been a little different, sadly.

    To bad for them that they “missed a thing”.
    ~ Never take life seriously.~
    ~ Nobody ever gets out alive anyway.~
    I'm calling all angels, 'cause things have to look up.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaG9SDxwPBg&feature=fvsr

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    Moderator crimethinker's Avatar
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    So all people should subscribe to all the obscure standards and appreciations of symphony-goers who stifle their coughs? Maybe they don't like violin music. I know I don't like it enough to let it interrupt my busy day, (if I had one), despite its alleged quality. Or maybe the difference between virtuoso and street performer is imaginary. Is there, in the end, any reason people should care? Innate beauty and artistic merit is nonsense.

    EDIT: And the "$3.5mil" strikes me as some sort of fallacious "appeal to price", like those thousand-dollar cables. Makes no difference to the human ear. This sort of thing has been shown again and again. There's often no difference between perceived high-quality and perceived low-quality.
    For a void without a question is just perverse.

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    Hot Lava brendand's Avatar
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    To be fair, violinists in the subway are not uncommon, and venues have a lot to do with creating the proper atmosphere and attracting an interested audience.

    To most people, he would probably just seem like a very talented subway musician, and in my experience they rarely seem to become people's focus, particularly on the way to work.

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    Lobotomized Angry Citizen's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: Muckraker View Post
    Pearls Before Breakfast - washingtonpost.com


    Is this an example of the "average" person's inability to appreciate beauty and art or is it that people are so caught up in their own little bubbles of existence that they often fail to observe anything outside the bubbles--unless it's something naked or something that runs them over in a crosswalk.
    Eh, I don't find that piece particularly stimulating.
    A man said to the universe:
    "Sir, I exist!"
    "However," replied the universe,
    "The fact has not created in me
    A sense of obligation."


    -- Stephen Crane

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    Volcanic Erupter lsbskins1's Avatar
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    I would have stopped and listened. My damn luck was that the "Metro Virtuoso" I had the pleasure of hearing on a regular basis parked in front of the Pentagon Center elevator and regaled me with endless variations on the "They say the neon lights are bright" snippet of "On Broadway" on his alto sax with the broken, squeeky reed. All I can say about that is, "Aaaaaarrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhh!"
    All I see when I look down, something jumpin' on the ground, Scratchin' dirt, cluckin' in the barnyard -
    Tell me, could that be you?

    John Kay

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    Amused Maryjane's Avatar
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    Priorities eh? People have places to be and people to see. Good luck eliciting any empathy from an employer, judge, babysitter, etc. when explaining you were late because you stopped off to listen to "a guy" playing beautiful music on a violin in the subway.
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/



    If I'm the only witness to your madness offer me some words to balance out what I see and what I hear.
    10,000 Maniacs

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    Thread Killer Muckraker's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: crimethinker View Post
    So all people should subscribe to all the obscure standards and appreciations of symphony-goers who stifle their coughs? Maybe they don't like violin music. I know I don't like it enough to let it interrupt my busy day, (if I had one), despite its alleged quality. Or maybe the difference between virtuoso and street performer is imaginary.
    I think it has more to do with an appreciation of skill than an appreciation of violin music. It's easier to justify this regarding music or painting. Would the experiment have turned out differently if the world's best magician was performing the most spectacular illusions? Or the world's most talented acrobat was tied up like a pretzel and doing pushups with his tongue? A really strong guy lifting something really heavy?

    Is there, in the end, any reason people should care?
    That's the question. Why do or don't people care? Is it really just because they want to get to work? Would getting to work still have been so important if Paul McCartney was standing there humming a song? Or if the "spider-man" was scaling a skyscraper without safeguards again?

    I'll bet that the experiment would have had completely different results if a half-dozen people were planted and instructed to just stand there listening. Is getting to work still important when six people are looking at something instead of getting to work?
    Innate beauty and artistic merit is nonsense.
    Possibly. But the display of skill, and what results from the display of skill, is not nonsense.

    EDIT: And the "$3.5mil" strikes me as some sort of fallacious "appeal to price", like those thousand-dollar cables. Makes no difference to the human ear. This sort of thing has been shown again and again. There's often no difference between perceived high-quality and perceived low-quality.
    The $3.5million Stradivarius is used more as an indicator that we are talking about an artist whose art grants him the ability to buy such a violin. But it probably does make no difference--to the untrained ear. We have to acknowledge, though, that recognition of quality is dependent on the audience's knowledge and ability to discern quality and skill.

    An example of this can be seen in a simple joke. If you don't know who the celebrity is that is referenced in the joke, or you don't know the meaning of a crucial word in the joke, then the beauty and humor of the well-crafted joke is completely lost on you. You don't find the joke unfunny because it doesn't suit your taste or because appreciation is subjective. The only reason you don't like the joke is because you lack the knowledge required to hear the joke--you haven't actually heard the joke you claim to dislike.

    Is there a chance that the people in the subway station did not stop to listen because they were incapable of actually hearing what they were listening to? Or perhaps even who they were listening to? Would you have stopped if you recognized him as a guy you went to school with or as a guy you saw them talking about on the news a few days ago? How about if you didn't recognize him but you overheard the person walking next to you say "oh my god! That's so-and-so!"

    We can claim we don't like something but does that opinion really hold any weight when we haven't actually seen what we claim we don't like? If you don't "get" the joke should I take your advice and not bother listening to the joke? Is appreciation, or lack of, really just a subjectively formed opinion?
    "It seems foolhardy, redolent of danger, and doomed to failure. Otherwise, I can find no fault with it." --Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby)

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    Thread Killer Muckraker's Avatar
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    Quote Quote by: Maryjane View Post
    Priorities eh? People have places to be and people to see. Good luck eliciting any empathy from an employer, judge, babysitter, etc. when explaining you were late because you stopped off to listen to "a guy" playing beautiful music on a violin in the subway.
    What if you stopped because Paul McCartney was giving autographs? Would people accept that excuse?

    Priorities are all about where you have to be and who you have to see. If I stop off at the bar instead of picking my kid up from the sitter can we say my priorities are just different or can we say they are actually screwed up?
    "It seems foolhardy, redolent of danger, and doomed to failure. Otherwise, I can find no fault with it." --Dickens (Nicholas Nickleby)

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    Igneous Magma
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    Quote Quote by: Muckraker View Post
    Pearls Before Breakfast - washingtonpost.com

    Is this an example of the "average" person's inability to appreciate beauty and art or is it that people are so caught up in their own little bubbles of existence that they often fail to observe anything outside the bubbles--unless it's something naked or something that runs them over in a crosswalk.
    Perhaps you disagree, but isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder? To say that these subway goers are suffering from an inability to appreciate music is pretty elitist at any rate. Most classical musicians are unknown to the public despite their undoubted skill because classical music is now a niche market; most people only experience classical music from film and TV. Also bear in mind that to someone who knows very little about violins they all look alike. And even if you did the violin in question is only valued so highly because of its former owner - if you didn't know that it probably just looks like a well made violin.

    Personally if I am commuting I am trying to get to my destination as fast as possible. Especially in built up areas commuting is an ordeal rather than a pleasure. I think that adequately explains why nobody stopped.

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