Sunday, March 8, 2009


As noted in my previous writing ("post" being such a hollow and clunky word), I'm fortunate to be experiencing (as opposed to just hearing), a richly wide range of musical performances in the past days in our struggling nation's capital city, while at the same time finding it difficult to try to capture these experiences adequately in words which will be (hopefully) of some interest and use to those who read them.

Having "blogged" now for a good while, and having taken different approaches over the past months (not so much consciously experimenting as simply seeking the right idiom for the moment), I find myself at a kind of crossroads, motivated on one level by the anniversary occasion of last Sunday as duly written, and reinforced, perforce, by the current time change (and the attendant loss of a previous, precious hour) today (this morning, at least) as a transitional point--and as is my wont, to find any occasion whatsoever to resolve to improve the quality of my current efforts (as well as, incidentally, of my life itself).

As I sort out my motives for writing here, I realize that the most compelling is the desire to share with as many other of my fellow beings as possible the joy of discovering musical experiences that have been meaningful and rewarding, even inspiring, for me, and that have expanded my range not only of musical, but more broadly, aesthetic perspectives in approaching the arts: music foremost, of course, but inextricably linked as it is with poetry, dance, and even the visual genres (most notably, drama and cinema) but also often related in some aspect to the static (and yet timeless) media of sculpture, painting, and drawing. And not only to share those experiences as artistic artifacts (an abstract concept, of course), but also as deeply rich and resonant emotional extensions and responses enhancing the very quality of our daily life and even sense of reality and self.

On various occasions, beginning with a weekly radio program in my senior year in college ("Baladeer", or some such title long forgotten, on WHRB in 1963-64), and as can be attested by only too numerous friends over the years who have endured my basement studio marathon and aggressively captive listening sessions, often later in the night than they might have wished), I have aspired to be not just another overcaffeinated jabbering disc-jockey, but even more an interpretive guide to the wonders that I have been fortunate enough to discover in my wanderings across the extraordinarily wide world of music.

So what should this humble VOAWorldMusic offering on these pages be? In order to take advantage of those little beasties called algorithms that drive the Internet search engines, should I bring into these World Music pages those entries that I compile regularly (but rarely more than two a week) elsewhere to celebrate the superb work in more mainstream music of my colleagues who write about the richness of musical life in America? And what should be my tone, or tones, in these pages?

The old scholar in me drives me sometimes to a kind of pedagogical approach, trying to help my readers understand the positive aspects of the music they have heard or are about to hear. Even in "reviews" (perhaps my proudest example is my review of the Post-Classical Ensemble's "Mexican Oddysey") where--in reverence for the extraordinary struggles of musicians simply to appear on stage--I tend to focus on the positive, since both performer and audience presumably had honest and admirable motives taking the time and effort to place themselves deliberatetly on either side of the stage, and my early training in literature had forewarned me to beware of crrrrrrritics, gloating over the presumed failures of others to glorify their own claimed superior expertise, while they themselves would in most cases (leaving out those accomplished musicians who serve the cause by writing as honestly as they can--as performers or composers themselves--about their colleagues) be incapable of creating themselves that which they presume to evaluate.

But even more in driving me to write than the scholar is the khidmat-gar (servant), and the aashiq (lover), and ham-dam (companion) of my beloved Urdu poetry. So many of our fellow beings have sacrificed more than most can understand to achieve the level of artistry, however modest, that is possible for them in the expression--to borrow a phrase from the Spanish (from my first LP of Flamenco music) "los alegrias y penas" (the joys and sorrows) of music as it reflects and captures in its rhythms and cries the very blood pulse and scintillating brainwaves, as well as the aching love/hope/needs/despair of our uniquely human experience.

For me such moments as this writing constitute my own (obiously insomniac) manifestation of the "dark night of the soul" of music and art. I have a myriad of questions that I will try to post on some adjunct page to this as to what drives us and our fellow creatures to bring music to every facet of our life? What would our world and our life be without music? But most of all how can we harness this, the magical and magisterial force of music, to bring more joy, resolve, comfort, inspiration, and most important, mutual understanding and harmony to our--in at least this challenging era--often troubled lives?

I will most gratefully look forward to your responses to my musings here.


profsol said...


I continue to follow and enjoy your blog.

Possible feature to add: links to samples (MP3 or whatever) of interesting types of world music.


Brian Q. Silver said...

See today's entry. Cheers.