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Welcome to my weblog!
The place where I will regularly post thoughts and comments on any aspect of music.
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(As you see, the blog is in DInglish - Dutch International English - but comments in Dutch, German, French, Spanish and Frisian are welcome.)

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And you might check my other blog, Evert Listens to Dylan, if you would be interested what listening to the complete recordings of Bob Dylan does with (or to, or for) me.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Feeling Known

I went to regional radio station Radio Westerwolde in the east of the province to be interviewed about music for an hour on Tuesday last week. I had visited the same programme on the radio station (entirely run by volunteers) a couple of years earlier, and was happy to find myself back again with Wilma and Herman in their programme for the 50+ listener - this time I just made it into the target group, so that already made me feel at home, as did warm and welcoming technician Peter

But what made me feel at home even more was the fact that Herman and Wilma had really taken the time to find out about me. They read my blog, my website, my other blog; they had devised a range of questions on topics they knew I would find interesting; and the music choice in their programme was entirely based upon the topics I wrote about. So they played the Beatles, Bob Dylan, shanty, Dolly Parton. And in the end they read a poem they had miraculously found somewhere which so precisely matched the interview that I asked innocently if they had written it themselves.

I felt recognized.

A couple of weeks earlier, we had a home concert featuring Danny Schmidt and Carrie Elkin. They sang two sets, and afterwards we had a homecooked meal with musicians and audience. Danny's song with the line "When I die, let them judge me by my company of friends" matched the occasion perfectly.

Before starting the concert, Danny asked if I had any songs I would like to hear. I asked him if it would be possible to play "This Too Shall Pass" (with its great first line "Things change fast, but this too shall pass - better carve it on your forehead or tattoo it on your ass") and "Stained Glass" (which is a great piece of poetry; and how I like lines such as "It was thirty days till Easter when the elm tree hit the church/Thank God it fell on Friday cause at least no one was hurt"). Which he did. And at the end of the concert they played a Bob Dylan song as an encore because, as Danny remarked, there were Dylan CDs and books about Dylan all over the place.

I felt recognized.

And I pondered how easy it is to make me feel recognized. Just connect, in some way or other, to my musical biography and I'll be happy.

Just to let you know what to do in order to count me in as your audience member.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Psychology of the Face

My newspaper provides me with breaking news: psychologists have found out that the preference for certain faces over other faces is not genetically determined, nor has it to do with the surroundings in which one grows up. Even twins - sharing genes as well as their childhood context - differ in face preference for some 50 percent. Some basic preferences are widely shared (big eyes, symmetrical face) but the researchers state that "probably very subtle, personal experiences" are crucial in differences in face preferences.

One wonders what made psychologists think in the first place that face preferences are determined by genes or context, or anything else than individual biography (which is, by nature, social, and is of course based on - but not explainable through - biology).

I can only explain it because psychology, in the end, tries to explain away the random - sociologists woud probably say 'contingent' - agency of individuals in favor of their mechanistic world view, hoping to become able to predict individual behavior in order to master it. A world view stemming from the natural sciences and leading to a continuous search in experimental research designs for cause-and-effect-chains, all of which eventually leads to the determinism so characteristic of our times: "It's not me, it's my context, my genes, my brain, my whatever - but not me."

The idea that if reality would repeat itself people would probably behave the same again. Which might be true, but it leaves out the basic fact that reality is about one zillion times too complex to repeat itself. It is not going to happen (unless God wants it to happen - which seems unlikely for many reasons). So here is nothing to predict, really - you may get insight in tendencies people have in certain contexts, but that's about it.

And it explains again why I am not a psychologist but rather, if anything, an ethnomusicologist, an anthropologist: because I believe the best we can do when it comes to real life matters is observing carefully, taking individuals seriously, aiming not for explanation but for careful description and tentative understanding.

Which is something totally different, and ambitious enough, really.