Celebrate Classical Music: I Love Classical Music
September 6, 2012 at 3:51 PMEDITOR'S NOTE: Award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn has written a special guest blog that wraps up our series of blogs on the subject Celebrate Classical Music. As she does in music, she came up with a wonderful and unique interpretation!
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I have realized something recently about classical music, something that both surprises and delights me. As a player, I have a constant backdrop of classical music in my thoughts and in my inner soundtrack, and there is unlimited potential for discovery within this music’s history and ongoing offerings. Like most people who are reading these words, I fell for the works, the emotions, the directness, and the nebulousness within classical music long ago.
But this thing that I realized about classical music has little to do with any of that. It is rather that classical music is the ultimate rebel. This overarching body of work kicks butt so much, and has such seniority over us, that it does not care whether any one person likes it or not. It will be what it will be. Its composers will write what they will write. It does not need to cater to us any more. By now, it is greater than the sum of our human contributions, and that is terrific! Despite this, it humors us. It lets us practice and theorize; it enriches our commutes and our evenings in and our evenings out; it runs through our heads taunting us; it brings infamy to its creators and challenges to its interpreters; it teases us, amuses us, makes statements, and generally does its own thing while allowing listeners and performers to see themselves in it. All the while, classical music -- this messy, brilliant, ever-evolving giant of a genre -- encompasses a uniqueness that we hope to retain. It is beautiful, and it is unpredictable.
An intoxicating result of this nonchalance is that, as if classical music were the popular kid in high school, many people are hopelessly in love with it. If we -- its admirers -- were told that as of tomorrow, all classical music would end, mayhem would break out amongst us. We would campaign, we would scrounge, we would stash, and we would sob. We would feel that our souls were being sucked out of us. I may seem to be exaggerating, but am I, really? We truly care what happens to classical music, because we are better off for its existence. We are its biggest advocates, creating outreach programs, working overtime out of sheer dedication, and populating concert halls. Even in trying times, we are not about to let classical music slide. We worry. Oh, how we worry. But that is because we love it.
A few months ago, I was reading a blog that mentioned a web application called Cleverbot. That post pointed out how little Cleverbot “knew” about a certain topic and encouraged its readers to start “talking” with the program to “educate” it. (Here’s how it works: Cleverbot contributes phrases as its part of a typed exchange; those phrases are lifted from a database of sentences written by earlier online conversational partners.) I decided to conduct my own experiment, to see what would happen if I “spoke” with it about classical music.
The result generated some zingers. I’ve cut and pasted that conversation below, shortened -- but not re-written -- for clarity. A challenge to classical music lovers waits at the end. Why not plant some great phrases? Better yet, don’t stop at one conversation: spread the classical music appreciation to your friends. You know you want to.
From Charlie GibbsThis sounds like the latest incarnation of a program written in the late '60s called Eliza, which simulated a psychoanalyst. A later program, Racter, was written on one of the first personal computers as an answer to the research into artificial intelligence - although it was referred to as "artificial insanity".
Posted on September 6, 2012 at 5:14 PM
As you may have guessed, I'm a long-time computer geek; I felt a bit of historical background was in order.
I applaud your attempt to insinuate classical music into another public forum; we need to show people who are immersed in today's pop culture that classical music is not only alive and well, but still has something to say.
As for me, my mind is filled with a swirling mix of various musical genres, of which classical music is but one - although a major one. I've played various musical instruments for a number of years, but three years ago I took up the violin. That'll keep me busy for several lifetimes of learning, whether I'm struggling with a classical piece or playing bluegrass fiddle.
From Man WongGreat blog post, especially the brilliant idea to converse w/ Cleverbot as part of this exercise -- and of course that dialog (as included here) is awesome... both very funny/amusing and speaking to our human condition!
Posted on September 6, 2012 at 7:20 PM
I especially love the part where you go "Ouch!" and Cleverbot follows up w/ "I like Job"! Apparently, Cleverbot is likely far more well versed in the Bible than in classical music, LOL, which I find awesome -- and yes, I love both myself. :-)
This brings me back to an FB post I saw and responded to earlier today about a difficult subject w/ a theory/idea posited by a somewhat(?) radical and seemingly coldly legalistic/intellectual libertarian that's rather devoid of careful consideration for the human condition/context perhaps delving too far into the abstract in coming up w/ a solution for the particular difficult subject. I'll leave what that subject actually is out of this comment as I do not wish to start a heated sociological/religious/political/ethical debate, but suffice it to say, despite my background as a computer geek of sorts who might at times be prone to getting stuck in the cold abstracts of all things mathematical (even though I'm also a naturally intuitive as well as sentimental kinda thinking/do-er, not merely/completely cold, calculated and abstract), I do believe we can never seriously and completely consider and evaluate something so fundamentally human as this, ie. why we love classical music, by completely avoiding our human condition/context in the final analysis.
At its very core, it's probably a bit like the philosophical question: if a tree falls and nobody's there to hear it, did it make a sound? OR the question of one's own existence in this form: I think, so am I?
Of course, here we are... Ms. Hahn to Cleverbot... and what does loving classical music mean? Cleverbot apparently still has no clue by the end of the dialog, but at least it seems to want to learn... or so it seems to think. Of course, if the dialog continued another minute... or couple decades (w/ all sorts of other dialog in between), Cleverbot might end up believing that classical music is a pox to humankind or a decadent western evil that should be eliminated for the common good... or perhaps, Pachelbel Canon in D, which might just as well be the same as far as cellists are concerned... ;-)
PS: I can't help but be reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:11-13. Hope it's alright that I reference that here (or I guess I'll just have to blame it on Cleverbot for starting it first ;-) )...
Cheers! And peace be w/ y'all...
From Emily GrossmanYay, Cleverbot is hilarious!
Posted on September 6, 2012 at 9:29 PM
And I love Portishead, too, by the way. :)
From Mendy SmithI tried cleverbot and this is what I got:
Posted on September 7, 2012 at 1:55 AM
User: I play viola.
It must have heard that joke before.
From Christopher McGovernThat's cute, Hilary! I like that so much more than the fish interview!
Posted on September 7, 2012 at 4:12 AM
An interview with Siri would probably be similar, but why doesn't she just interview the violin case?
He/she has so much on their mind, I think that would be an incredible interview!
From Naqqash KashmiriSo cute n pretty...so delicate like Hilary herself!
Posted on September 8, 2012 at 5:06 PM
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Revisit Violinist.com editor Laurie Niles' coverage from Canada of the 2013 Montreal International Musical Competition, including her interview with gold medalist Marc Bouchkov.
Hilary Hahn is from Baltimore, Maryland. Biography
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