Monday, November 21, 2011
This is the opening to Philip Glass’s Glassworks. I know you could probably find another almost identical video on YouTube, but the reason I decided to post a video of myself playing it has to do with something Elaine Scarry says in On Beauty and Being Just. Beauty necessitates replication, an “unceasing begetting…the perpetual duplicating of a moment that never stops.” The reason why we stare at something beautiful is so fundamentally obvious—a face, palm trees, a statue. We don’t want the beautiful thing to go away. We’re satisfied if we can continue to stare. I guess the same can apply to sound. With this song, I could practice it for hours and never tire of it. To say the least, the song is repetitive, which some people might hate, and if you’ve listened to the first two minutes or so, it would almost be as if you’ve heard the whole thing. But I think Glass understood Scarry's notion when he wrote the piece—I might speak only for myself, but it’s like I don’t want the sound to go away. I want it to be repeated over again and am glad it was written that way.
(It’s a poor substitute, but this is for someone to whom I had said I’d play this “next time there’s a piano…” Sorry we haven't found one.)