On one level, music is entertaining, creates atmosphere and stirs human emotions. On another level, music offers insight into and knowledge of the human experience. It is often called the universal language and understandably so. In one way or another, everyone has experienced its ability to transform. Music provides a pathway toward melding together the past, the present and the future. It is a form of art that plays within the fields of sound and time. As a part of the human experience, it should never be underestimated for its ability to mend and enlighten. The history of western music essentially begins in the Middle Ages with plainchant and its evolution into polyphony.
It evolves through marked periods of advancement including the Renaissance and Baroque. Although many great melodies and cadences of contemporary music fill our airwaves, it is no surprise music from earlier periods continues to be embraced and remains true to form. Genres such as concerto, opera and symphony are indeed alive and well and continue to push the limits of the human experience, transcending barriers of language, nationality and age to touch the human spirit. Some recent examples are the Philadelphia Orchestra's performance in China for the first time in decades and the invitation to the New York Philharmonic to perform in Asia, playing for the first time in such places as North Korea and Shanghai, China.
Reports say that the response was outstandingly positive. And with global politico-dynamics in a state of stress and North Korea, in particular, on edgy ground with our own nation, it is refreshing that this means of universal communication was able to sound its way through the gates of Journey, 16'' x 20'' oil on glass by Alan Fetterman political dissension and help to promote greater unity. Like many music lovers, I remain true to my selections for lengthy periods. In my most recent musical journeys, I have been in tune with genres both old and new. For example, I have been bowled over by the dynamics and counterpoints of Beethoven's music. His gift for creating compositions exploding with drama and passion is astonishing. His work reaches across all boundaries. Alongside his legacy of nine brilliant symphonies, I have been floored by the sounds of his String Quartet in F, Opus 135 II. There is an incredible display of breathtaking abstractions that are unmatched in agitation and tension. It can be readily recognized as a historical precursor to modern jazz.
I am also in awe of the energy of The Band, and the music in The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Robbie Robertson. Both the music and the movie portray the human spirit so well. In a time when empty rhetoric flows from the mouths of the political elites and power barons, it is of great value to make note of music and the arts, for they remain journeys of truth. They whirl and swirl right along with the human experience. One might say it is truly a blessing to know that the world is alive with the sound of music.