“It’s important to make eye contact. If you can get a soldier to look you in the eye, and you smile, he might smile back.”–Rule 3, Surrick
“Think of a theory as a tool. When you find a new tool…you want to try it out everywhere.” (Kaplan-Weinger, Ullman) Words of caution from the academy–words of challenge to an expert tool-wielder. For ethnographers, it is dangerous to get bogged down in one theory, it can be reductive and fail to capture the groups of people or individuals you study. Perhaps theories are less elegant solutions, less capable of telling stories than those instruments involving bows, strings, stretched leather, the human voice. Theories have limits, and those limits are usually sites of academic one-upmanship or sources of discontent for “studied” communities. For performers, surpassing limits or even bowing to them make the show more real. [Want more on The Law of the Instrument and Abraham Kaplan, who came up with it? See:
Right after intermission in Between War & Here, Ryan and Jackie have a face-off of sorts–fiddle and drum. They stand and face each other, following a reading about two soldiers trying to figure out to protect themselves, stay dominant. The two musicians play like lightning, it feels like you’re watching them clear the hurdles. Their instruments are barely contained, straining against the rhythm.
http://www.egmusic.com/music/the-flowers-of-the-forest/track/fjarilen/ Installment 2 of Ensemble Galilei’s music for your listening pleasure–this one is bright, fast, although the album title: Flowers of the Forest, refers to a song sung in memory of the dead.
Over dinner, Ryan describes singing, dancing, playing, art, architecture–all as forms of communication, pieces of of a universal language that changes over time, such that studying traditional music also means communicating with the past. Preston describes learning from old sounds and replicating old sounds even as he must always breathe new life into his instrument.