In a stunt where violinist Joshua Bell goes undercover to play at a Washington D.C. metro station, a Washington Post journalist bemoans busy Americans who don't stop to notice and then points to an example of music that better fits the situation:
Not much has changed. Pop in a DVD of "Koyaanisqatsi," the wordless, darkly brilliant, avant-garde 1982 film about the frenetic speed of modern life. Backed by the minimalist music of Philip Glass, director Godfrey Reggio takes film clips of Americans going about their daily business, but speeds them up until they resemble assembly-line machines, robots marching lockstep to nowhere. Now look at the video from L'Enfant Plaza, in fast-forward. The Philip Glass soundtrack fits it perfectly.
Bell did earn about $40/hour, ignoring the one person who recognized him and gave a twenty. Although it is an awkward transaction, I try to tip street musicians. I suppose if someone were playing selections from Koyaanisqatsi, I'd just hand over my wallet.
The article has the point of view about how could all these people possibibly miss what was happening around them. But it also makes the argument about how context matters, in this case, what music best suits a Metro station. But context of course also influences the composer. So, does Bach ultimately belong to the religious and aristocratic? And is Philip Glass the Aaron Copland of our time?
youtube: koyaanisqatsi trailer grand theft auto trailer ice skating to joshua bell playing corigliano's red violin. post article via david schmaltz's mastering project work email list.