Music: in a trance

As Jerry Garcia sings in the Grateful Dead’s Terrapin Station: “Inspiration, move me brightly.”

I process many narrative difficulties through music: doing my workout on the elliptical, staring out the window from the couch or attending a live concert. Once I get through the problems of the day – Did I send that email? Did I buy that ointment? Is the lawsuit going well? –  I find a better path, a more open space, and start to think. Music is my primary place of thought.

My favorite works include Fripp and Eno’s No Pussyfooting, Low’s C’Mon, My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Off the Sky’s Cold Distances and William Basinski’s Distintegeration Loop #5. Each of these works help me shed the harsh light of this ‘sterile promontory’ to bring out the ‘excellent canopy’ instead. (That’s my spin on Hamlet.) Characters grow; the plot thickens.

Another recent inspiration has been the work of Icelandic performance artist, Ragnar Kjartansson. I was fortunate enough to attend his work Bliss at Abrons Auditorium in New York. A troupe of Icelandic opera singers – with full orchestration – sang the final arias of Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, a two-and-a-half minute sequence repeated again and again over twelve straight hours. Please click on either the link or photograph below to see a six minute sequence from the production, featuring two renditions of the piece:

Ragnar Kjartansson, “Bliss”

The above photograph is from the final hour of production; note the woman climbing out of the orchestra pit to go to the bathroom; full meals were also served on stage throughout the day. Assuming the same pace was maintained, they performed this sequence of arias approximately 240 times. I was there for only four hours and wish I had experienced more. It really was something to live in that music.

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