Would you realize beauty out of context??

Here's the link to the full story

Here's the summary, which presents the story better, IMO:

"A man sat at a metro station... in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"
Original Post
Odd experiment. Were people supposed to be late for work because they decided to stop and listen to some beautiful music? Not sure I get the point here. If you have to be somewhere you usually don’t have time to stop and smell the roses. Unless Katy Upton was giving away free hugs, I probably would have walked on by myself.
OK. Now whereas I am not on the same reservation as Joshua Bell, I do the same thing on numerous nights, particularly around holidays (trumpet/trombone). I always work the "going home crowd". I also don't play any Bach. I play standard jazz, club music and holiday tunes. I do it purely as a capitalist venture. On the other side, whenever I have the orphan buck or two, I pay for my momentary enjoyment. The vast majority of street musicians can use the gratitude.
quote:
Originally posted by irwin:
Curious.....the story is from 2007. What motivates you to post it in 2012, about 5 years later, on a wine site?


Irwin, I think that Mr. Longcork's attributes keep him quite busy (GlennK might be OK with only a hug from Katy, but not Jorge) and, therefore, he is rather behind on his reading and just catching up on some things. Just sort of a curse he has to live with.
yawn,

it could be a billion dollar violin for all I care.

it's in the middle of the metro, I haven't had my coffee yet, I'm running to work and that fat bitch behind me just stepped on the back of my shoe.

Who would tell me that Petrus in a styro cup would be the best wine in the world for those of you who drink @ 7:30am
Awesome take on it! Winner

Irwin's was pretty good too.

But taking the story on its own terms, I don't know what the point is. I take away a few things.

1. Taste - People don't like Bach.

2. Time - A glass of Petrus may not be what you want to drink when you're doing the Boston Marathon, and listening to Bach may not be what you want to do at the time you're running thru the train station. People turn on the TV or radio first thing in the morning - I can't think of anything more irritating. And I don't want to wake up to Bach either, although I think he was the greatest composer ever. I don't want it to be background noise because it's then just noise.

3. Surroundings - have Thomas Keller cook you a nice dinner and take it into some gas station restroom to enjoy. A great dining experience or do you just want to get out of those surroundings?

4. Arrogance - people impose their idiocy on you all day long. The performers or preachers who decide that everyone on the subway car is just aching to experience their antics and rants. So what would make you stop and listen to someone who decided that he chooses when you'll listen to music that he thinks deserves more attention. And how does he know that you aren't suffering from kidney failure or angina or that you're not on the way to save some children that were just taken out of a burning building.

All in all it was a poorly designed experiment because true beauty is recognized whatever the context. For example, I was on my way to a wine tasting a year ago in lower Manhattan. I spied a naked girl next to a food truck. She was doing some photo shoot that I'm sure they decided was "edgy". Along with several other guys, I stopped for a few moments to experience the glory of nature, took a few pictures, and went on my way. All of us felt better. So to the OP, the answer is an emphatic yes!
quote:
Originally posted by GlennK:
Were people supposed to be late for work because they decided to stop and listen to some beautiful music?


Yes. Exactly. Smile

Comparing listening to Bell playing Bach in a DC Metro station to eating a Thomas Keller meal in a gas station restroom is a little bit of a stretch, GregT. Eek

Anyone who has ever ridden on mass transit has probably heard an assortment of street musicians of varying talent. Being just a tiny bit of a musician myself, I'll usually focus my attention on what's being played for a minute. If good, I'll linger. It's rare. Otherwise, I motor on. I think that anyone with an ear and the ability to get their head out of their iPhone for a minute would have been able to understand that something special was going on.

PH
quote:
Originally posted by GregT:
... A glass of Petrus may not be what you want to drink when you're doing the Boston Marathon, and listening to Bach may not be what you want to do at the time you're running thru the train station... I don't want it to be background noise because it's then just noise.

... Surroundings - have Thomas Keller cook you a nice dinner and take it into some gas station restroom to enjoy. A great dining experience or do you just want to get out of those surroundings?

Alright. But then...

quote:
... All in all it was a poorly designed experiment because true beauty is recognized whatever the context...

Confused Um, you realize that you're directly contradicting yourself, right?
impressive how much more cynical the responses on this thread have been compared to the feedback i received when I shared this on facebook and in an email to family.

everyone here is basically saying "the experiment was wrong", "what's the point of this experiment?", etc.

i thought it was pretty straight-forward; a truly beautiful musician was missed because the context wasn't what we would expect.

the Keller argument is a stick man argument and invalid. a more appropriate comparison would be "what if thomas keller prepared a dish for you at a local diner or cafeteria without you knowing it was Keller? would you realize the greatness of the food?". i don't think the petrus argument is accurate either. again, a more appropriate comparison would be standing at one of those charity dinners, where all that's being served is yellowtail and the like, however, someone serves you a glass of Petrus without you knowing it. Would you realize the greatness in the wine? Or would you write it off as "not-so-bad-charity swill"?

i'm not suggesting the story was scientifically correct or anything along those lines. but it's pretty straight forward, people whizzed by one of the most talented violinists on earth because they had other priorities and didn't care to take a listen. i'm not saying i would've acted any differently, it's simply food for thought. it suggests that it wouldn't hurt to "stop and smell the roses" every once in a while. but writing the whole thing off as pointless or poorly executed is a close-minded response, at best.

irwin, i ran across the story in 2012... also, it turns out some guy walked on the moon??? Confused
Jorge, I'm with you. Sometimes we need some food for thought to actually start thinking. I cannot tell you how many people I see who are MISSING out on their lives because their heads are stuck in their phones, iPads, TVs etc. I can't say that I would have done differently at that Metro station, but I'd like to believe that I would.

fwiw, Gene Weingarten is a VERY funny guy. He's good friends with Dave Barry, who is another VERY funny guy. Gene won a Pulitzer for the Joshua Bell story and a subsequent Pulitzer for a really sad and insightful story about parents who leave their kids in cars by accident. Not easy reading, but a good perspective especially for those of us who throw the occasional stone. I came to know him for his humorous writing, but he knocked both of these stories out of the park, imo.....

PH
quote:
Originally posted by USChelseafan:
With this and the thread on rents (extortion) in New York, all I can say is'

I'm glad I'm in Chicago!

But what if that preacher on State St. really has some great insight into matters? Have you ever really stopped to listen? LOL

I wouldn't have stopped to listen to the violinist at the train...just like I wouldn't have popped $100 to see him perform either.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by GlennK:
Were people supposed to be late for work because they decided to stop and listen to some beautiful music?


Yes. Exactly. Smile

Comparing listening to Bell playing Bach in a DC Metro station to eating a Thomas Keller meal in a gas station restroom is a little bit of a stretch, GregT. Eek

Anyone who has ever ridden on mass transit has probably heard an assortment of street musicians of varying talent. Being just a tiny bit of a musician myself, I'll usually focus my attention on what's being played for a minute. If good, I'll linger. It's rare. Otherwise, I motor on. I think that anyone with an ear and the ability to get their head out of their iPhone for a minute would have been able to understand that something special was going on.

PH


I'm acutlaly one of those guys with a noise cancelling headphone that's not plugged in when I'm on the train ;-) Sorry but early mornings are for sleeping
I'd say for me personally this would have all come down to where this took place. At the platform, yeah I'd stop. Sure of that. Spending so much time in New Orleans I've gotten used to stopping for music on the street.

Outside of the platform no chance. Until I'm on the platform at the Metro and see the 'next train arrives sign' I've got a razor focus on getting to that platform. Unfamiliar environment, unknown schedule, 15-30 minutes between trains, and trying to remember if I need red, green, blue or yellow and what direction actually requires a fair amount of focus.
I think the results were obvious which is why the whole thing is odd. As someone who took a train multiple times a day for 2 years, the goal was always to get in and out as quick as possible while trying not to kill stupid people along the way (like the people that get to the top of the escalator and just stop not realizing that there are about 50 people behind them being propelled at them from a moving object!!!!). The train in major cities is a warzone and you need to have your game face on or you are going to get stepped on, pushed or have your shit stolen.

It’s not like they did this someplace were people are taking a leisurely stroll and you have the time if presented with something beautiful to stop and take a listen. On weekends when we lived in London we would often stop for 10 mins and enjoy a street performer if they were good.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
This guy was playing on a train platform. I hope you aren't sleeping when you're walking around trains!! Eek

PH


i generate some head lines.

"guy without brakes flying down street needs lawyer advice"

"guy with headphones that arne't plugged in gets woken up when door closes on him"

I had my foot caught between a train and platform once

and that was scary. woke me up immediately
quote:
Originally posted by Stefania Wine:
I'd say for me personally this would have all come down to where this took place. At the platform, yeah I'd stop. Sure of that. Spending so much time in New Orleans I've gotten used to stopping for music on the street.

Outside of the platform no chance. Until I'm on the platform at the Metro and see the 'next train arrives sign' I've got a razor focus on getting to that platform. Unfamiliar environment, unknown schedule, 15-30 minutes between trains, and trying to remember if I need red, green, blue or yellow and what direction actually requires a fair amount of focus.


Your point is very valid, Paul..... for someone from out of town or unfamiliar with the Metro. Friday rush hour I'm betting 90% of those people were regulars on autopilot.

If you watch the video in the full story link, you'll see it isn't a "typical" subway melee with people all jammed together. The area is wide open, with plenty of room for people to stop and listen.

PH
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
quote:
Originally posted by Stefania Wine:
I'd say for me personally this would have all come down to where this took place. At the platform, yeah I'd stop. Sure of that. Spending so much time in New Orleans I've gotten used to stopping for music on the street.

Outside of the platform no chance. Until I'm on the platform at the Metro and see the 'next train arrives sign' I've got a razor focus on getting to that platform. Unfamiliar environment, unknown schedule, 15-30 minutes between trains, and trying to remember if I need red, green, blue or yellow and what direction actually requires a fair amount of focus.


Your point is very valid, Paul..... for someone from out of town or unfamiliar with the Metro. Friday rush hour I'm betting 90% of those people were regulars on autopilot.

If you watch the video in the full story link, you'll see it isn't a "typical" subway melee with people all jammed together. The area is wide open, with plenty of room for people to stop and listen.

PH


oh it was a friday rush and people going home?

I know what I'd be doing, and it wouldn't be hanging around the city for whatever reason.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:

If you watch the video in the full story link, you'll see it isn't a "typical" subway melee with people all jammed together. The area is wide open, with plenty of room for people to stop and listen.

PH


The metro is generally pretty tame. It is crowded at transfer stations but there's never pushing or shoving that I've ever seen even at the busiest times. It's a pretty 'polite' system.

It does have a weird vibe to it though. The underground stations, there's just no hiding that you're in a bomb shelter. It feels oppressive inside and has a feeling you're in a cold war relic. I can see moving through the thing in a hurry I usually do.
quote:
Originally posted by Stefania Wine:
I'd say for me personally this would have all come down to where this took place. At the platform, yeah I'd stop. Sure of that. Spending so much time in New Orleans I've gotten used to stopping for music on the street.

Outside of the platform no chance. Until I'm on the platform at the Metro and see the 'next train arrives sign' I've got a razor focus on getting to that platform. Unfamiliar environment, unknown schedule, 15-30 minutes between trains, and trying to remember if I need red, green, blue or yellow and what direction actually requires a fair amount of focus.


I tend to concur. I ride the dc metro every day, no headphones, but i am for sure minding my own business pretty much unaware of my sorroundings and just ready to walk up the stairs, get out of the station to see sunlight, breathe fresh air and avoid the crowds. I probably would have thought, damn that guy is good and kept on going.
quote:
Originally posted by Jorge Longcork:
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
yes...and "thou shall have the mind of a child to enter the kingdom of God". Certainly, there is a measure of purity of thought and inhibition that is lost as we get older; replaced with responsibility and a measure of "blindness".

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