One of the easiest ways for me to reflect is through music. The other day I decided to put my iPhone on shuffle, and let music be played at random. If you’ve never decided to shuffle all songs on your mp3 device, I highly recommend you do at some point. This only works if you surrender your musical fate, and trust in the order of the songs. What continued for me was a narrative that was completely engaging. It began with an Antiphon from the Monteverdi Vespers performed by Apollo’s Fire, followed by an inexplicably beautiful arrangement of Det Brinner En Eld by Swedish vocal quartet Åkervinda, then followed by Beth/Rest by Bon Iver, and finally That the Night Comes: He wishes his Beloved were Dead by Donnacha Dennehy, performed by Dawn Upshaw and Crash Ensemble.
Two things immediately struck me:
1) The diversity and varying perspectives of these pieces
2) How individualistic the reflective experience was
This diverse music was experienced in a context that, ironically, lacked diversity; I was experiencing it alone. I was moved by the music only I could hear through my headphones on my way home as the sun was setting at 4:00pm in Chicago. Musical experiences often happen on an individual level, and they should be able to. But I also want to find places where these experiences can be communal. Dance clubs provide a communal experience through music every night around the world, arguably, so do dinner parties with music playing in the background, karaoke, music played over loudspeakers at the mall or grocery store, and of course, live performance.
I can’t help but imagine how much more powerful my reflective experience would have been in the context of a live performance, where a group of people could listen together. The problem is, not all music being performed live opens the potential for me to feel reflectiv, in part because it doesn’t seem to demonstrate the diversity and variety I see in the world outside of the concert hall. I know the virtue of live performance is worthwhile because it provides an opportunity to reflect both inwardly and outwardly. I know this because I have been lucky enough to experience this type of live performance a few times in my life so far. So I am going to keep looking for performances where I feel I can reflect in this way. If I can’t find them, I’ll try to make those experiences with friends and colleagues!
In the meantime, thank you for reading and thank you for being the community that shows me who I am. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, try putting your mp3 device on shuffle! Enjoy your solstice.