Music experiment

I am studying philosophy of art this term, I have been learning difference aesthetic theories from different philosophies. Some think art has universal value that can be appreciated by anyone, some think the value of art is merely how it is framed.

Washington Post has carried out an experiment trying to find the answer. Let’s stripe the frame from the art and see how many people can still appreciate art as it is. The Post arranged the best violinist, Joshua Bell, with his $3.5 million Stradivari violin, be a street performer at a subway exit in morning rush hour. During his one hour performance, 1097 people walked pass the subway exit.  Guess how many people slow down to listen the music and how much money he earn?

The Post would expect there at least a small crowd in front of Bell, his concert ticket costs at least $200, he is really good.  In the end, out of the thousand people walked by, only 7 people stopped to listen and he made $32.17, in which $20 come form the only person recognize who he is.  Yes, someone gave him pennies, but no one applauded.  Almost everyone simply ignored him, filtered out his music as background noise and move on with their own life.

What this experiment tell us?  There are different aspects to analyze the experiment.  Maybe urban people are just too busy to slow down and listen to good music.  Maybe it gives the answer to the age old Zen question: if a great musician plays a great piece of music but no one hears, is he really good?  Maybe it is a good experiment for Bell as a lesson to be humble.  He may worth $1000 a minute in concert hall, but he is just a no body without his fame.  Maybe an art without a frame is not really an art.  What is art?  Really?

The full article can be found here.  It is a bit long, but very thought provoking piece of journal worth spending time to read.

2 thoughts on “Music experiment”

  1. Or may be he’s not that great afteral? I once went to a concert with a friend and I was told that his performance was disappointing.

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