• Ben Vasko

Tuba-Less 1.3.2: Falling down the listening rabbit hole

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

Hey everyone. It has been a few busy days here in Blue Devils land. We wrapped up Family Day and are preparing to hit the road for our national tour tonight. One more week until I go back to Georgia and prepare for the big move up to Boston! Scary and exciting. I appreciate the kind words I have received about this blog and I am looking forward to putting out more content in the coming weeks. If you're reading this, thank you!

In the last blog I gave my thoughts about the importance of listening and how to learn to listen. Over the course of the rest of this listening series, I will dive into my ideas on the different benefits and uses of listening to music.

I consider myself a creative individual. I think a large part of that can be attributed to consuming art of all kinds- music, visual art, books, poetry, photography, movies, etc. Finding different forms of art that we can relate to the music we listen to is an effective way to listen from an inspired place rather than simply listening. An easy way to practice this is to pair listening with another medium. You can listen to music and focus on art that cover the same topic (listening to Shostakovich 11 and viewing depictions or photos from Bloody Sunday 1905 or more accurately, the Hungarian Uprising of 1956), consume music and art of the same nationality and period (think impressionist paintings and Debussy or Ravel), or any other combination of music paired with a form of art. My favorite music pairing was Miles Davis' album Bitches Brew paired with a beer by Dogfish Head Brewery of the same name! By pursuing these connections, we can help ourselves further understand the music to which we are listening.

Often, we consume music and visual art together without even noticing it! Good movies serve as a wonderful joining of well-composed music and artistically-driven cinematography. Personally, I was very inspired by the Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. I thought the way the movie was filmed was thoughtful and artistic, and the soundtrack was superb, winning the Oscar that year. As I dove deeper into the soundtrack, I discovered film composer Alexandre Desplat used and was influenced by the first movement of Antonio Vivaldi's Trio Sonata RV. 82. Eager to hear the rest of this work, I stumbled onto an album of Vivaldi's music by mandolinist Avi Avital. That album is where I found the Violin Concerto RV. 356 from Vivaldi's L'estro Armonico series. I fell in love with that work and programmed it on my most recent recital. I learned a great deal about Vivaldi and this particular composition series while in the process of preparing the piece (check out Today's Listening for both albums and my performance). Falling down the listening rabbit hole continues to take me places that I could have never found if I hadn't bothered to be curious.

"Rather than simply practicing the mechanics of playing, we should be fully invested in becoming well-rounded artists and storytellers with a wealth of knowledge and experiences to draw from when creating our own art."

All of this learning and listening came about simply because I enjoyed a movie and its soundtrack and decided to dig deeper! Being curious about the art we consume and making connections to the music we hear can bring an unmatched level of authenticity to our performing, in addition to helping us learn more about different cultures and historical periods. Rather than simply practicing the mechanics of playing, we should be fully invested in becoming well-rounded artists and storytellers with a wealth of knowledge and experiences to draw from when creating our own art. In my opinion, it is a much more fulfilling experience. Have you found a pairing of two or more art media that inspired you? Feel free to leave a comment below and sharing that with me and other readers!

-Scroll down for Pic of the Day and Today's Listening-

Pic of the Day: Members of Blue Devils 'A' kneeling next to members of Blue Devils 'C' at Family Day!

Today's Listening: The soundtrack to 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' by Alexandre Desplat, 'Vivaldi' by Avi Avital, and my recent performance of the 3rd movement of Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in A Minor, RV. 356

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©2018 by Ben Vasko.

Boston, USA

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