Saturday, October 08, 2005

I reserved this account in 2003, when some friends tried to resurrect an old AOL group on BlogSpot. I've been posting to Slashdot for awhile, but their recent CSS update included some unwelcome changes. I can't spare the time to code my own site; so when a friend sent me a link to his new blog, I decided to reactivate this account. If Slashdot tanks, maybe I'll move here. In the meantime, since I need to adapt my writing for scripts, this can be a sandbox.

And so. I suppose I should start with a base hit, but I can't resist: The Art of Fugue, Bach's masterpiece recorded by the Emerson String Quartet. It's not necessary to butcher the pronunciation; suffice to say, a fugue is analogous to the five-paragraph essay formula. It's a schematic for composing music, according to the wisdom that creativity thrives when subjected to limitations. (If you haven't yet achieved that realization, skip this part.)

It's a striking example of how the whole can become greater than the sum of its parts. But I'm not a classical scholar, and you can find plenty of texts analyzing the piece, each line and how they interact. What I can add to the discussion is an analogy, and an alternative use: This record is like an optimization program. It's like realigning a magnet. It's maintenance for your brain.

You've heard of the Mozart Effect: the notion that your baby will become smart if you play classical music. There's a lot of adspeak, but it's a sound principle: Good classical music is composed of complex, meticulously plotted patterns; and intelligence is mostly about organizing and recognizing patterns. If you wallpaper the kid's room with criss-cross designs, he'll acquire a knack for picking out patterns. Ditto with music. Put it this way: Spend a week watching The Sopranos and you're likely to find yourself dropping F-bombs at Sunday dinner. Spend an hour listening to this record, you'll find yourself thinking clearly.

Chalk it up to meditation, or osmosis, or whatever dampens your kleenex. Point is, even if you're such a troglodyte, you can't appreciate good this record anyway. Consider it therapy.


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