Sounds familiar

I will always remember a writer friend from college who teased a musician we both knew with a comment to the effect of “gee, women never want to come over and watch me write.”

As a writer, I’m often envious of the attention musicians and actors get for their live performances. But an amazing experiment, conducted earlier this year by The Washington Post, turned all that on its head.

What if you took one of the world’s most acclaimed concert violinists (a strikingly handsome man, to boot) and had him busk solo in a Washington, D.C. Metro station? Would people notice or appreciate the extraordinary quality of his performance? Or would they hurry past, oblivious, yammering on their cell phones?

Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony, predicted that perhaps 4 out of 100 people would “recognize the quality for what it is,” adding “Maybe 75 will stop and spend some time listening.”

What do you think?

Here’s what happened. And here’s a link to the entire 45 minute performance.

Author: Karen Anderson

To paraphrase Mark Morris, "I'm a writer; I write!"

One thought on “Sounds familiar”

  1. I really liked the idea behind this experiment. I’d be very curious what would happen if you did the same thing in some other countries in Europe and in Asia.

    I tend to agree with what they guy said about context. Our ability to appreciate art is very dependent upon the context. If you are starving and don’t know where you are going to sleep at night, it is going to be much more difficult to appreciate art than if you have all your needs met.

    I think we are also trained to ignore music. Every store, every restaurant, and most gas stations constantly play music. Back in the height of what we now consider classical music this wasn’t the case. It was rare to hear music and so it commanded much more attention. Now days music has become the stuff we play to fill the air with sound so it doesn’t seem empty.

    Mark Shead

Leave a reply—I'd love to know what you think!