somehow in the past three years, i have grown increasingly disillusioned with music. maybe i always have been to one degree or another, but i had a meeting with one of my professors that really accentuated my disbelief in the power of music.
even as a freshman, i never wanted a job in an orchestra. from my perspective, orchestras were breeding grounds for apathetic musicians to mask their imperfections in a co-op of sorts where they could take turns covering for each other.
orchestras ideally are united artists who together create excellent, harmonious music and bring beethoven’s fifth to life; they rip your heart out, purify you, and put you back together, sending you home a little better than you were walking into the concert hall.
granted, i’m not in juilliard and i haven’t played with many exceptional musicians but from a very young age, i’ve had a huge aversion to playing in ensembles where even professional musicians have said, “yeah, if we can’t get the notes we just fake it.” (true story.)
the friends of mine who still believe in classical music would tell me that this doesn’t happen in the great orchestras—take orpheus or the berlin philharmonic for example—but really! to land a job like that, i’d have to be the next hilary hahn.
as my dislike for classical music has grown, i haven’t spurned music completely: i turned to alternative, folk, and electronic—anything i could listen to without imagining myself playing it. i looked for untrained voices, simple harmonies, and anything without violin.
regrettably, even this has become distasteful to me. i’ve seen cheap vocals hired just to sing to a click track and be mercilessly auto-tuned and edited to perfection. try as i might to avoid the question, i am forced to ask: where has the integrity of music gone?
pablo casals once said, “in bach’s time everybody played out of tune. the spirit is more important than wrong notes.”1 during a recording session once, his recording engineer asked him for another take for intonation. “but that’s how i played it!” he responded.2
maybe i’m just tired. i’m tired of competing for the superficial applause of the crowd; i’m tired of pretending to play the notes in orchestra; i’m tired of editing audio clips; and i’m tired of practicing.
i’m tired of listening to schumann and rossini and vivaldi just so i can absorb a bit of the style and play better. i’m tired of the compulsory enjoyment i’m supposed to have in this. i love bach. i love lazarus. that’s about all right now, honestly.
but i’m a violin performance major. now that’s ironic. after such sentiments about music, my degree program becomes a bit irrelevant, eh? my core beliefs are still the same: i exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. it might just look different than it did a few years ago…