Monday, November 30, 2009

Musical Expectations and Resolutions

I am writing the first part of this blog entry at 7:00 p.m., shortly before leaving for my younger son's concert at a local pizzeria/bar/music venue. He will be playing violin accompaniment to/with/for a singer/songwriter/guitarist friend of his. I have seen the friend sing and play his acoustic guitar before in an entertaining rock/blues/pop set.

I expect that sprinkling violin phrases on the songs will provide a noticeable, but not striking, improvement: say, an increase of 20% in aesthetic interest. If my son and the friend had restructured the songs to perform as equal partners instead of a lead performer and a sideman, a truly exciting breakout concert might have been possible.

I am leaving now. I anticipate a pleasant concert.


I'm back home at 11:00 p.m. My son's concert was better than anticipated. His long, soulful violin phrases on the slower songs were quite effective: I'd say that he provided a boost of 40% or so in aesthetic interest for these songs. (Take my percentages with a grain of salt, of course.) But pretty playing only gets you so far. It was on the faster, hard-edged rock songs that he really added some punch. For me, the highlight of the set was when he matched the bottleneck guitar growl for growl on one hot number. It was a very balanced and enjoyable set by two enthusiastic musicians.

I stayed to listen to the headliners, a London-based indie band called One eskimO, whose set was a tuneful soundtrack to an animated film. The film told the story of two young Eskimo lovers who were separated and then tormented by the wiles of an evil sorcerer. But by perseverance, hope, and the help of trusty friends, the young Eskimo man endured all trials and attacks and was reunited with his lost love.

The band's pop melodies -- by turns wistful or sunny, to complement the film action -- reminded me of Harry Nilsson's The Point.

I took my leave when the film ended and the band took a much needed break for water and oxygen. (London, after all, is only 80 feet above sea level.) My son no doubt will stay and hobnob with these musical comrades from across the Atlantic.