Eine Kleine Reisen-Rant

Contrary to the way it appears from my monthly commute to California, weekly trips to Quebec, and occasional European jaunts, I greatly dislike airplanes. For me, air travel is boring, annoying, dangerous for my respiratory health, and every moment of turbulence is a cause for anxiety. It’s like being at the dentist’s office. Even the chairs are the same. Whenever I’m in a plane and suffering the white noise and airlessness peculiar to the beast I always suspect that the land we are over-flying is abundantly rich and that I’m missing it all (I see the Grand Canyon twice per month, weather permitting) (Las Vegas too) (Beauty and the Beast?). The greatest satisfaction in travel comes with discovery; the private thrill of putting the pieces together, or seeing them in a new way.

Flying for me is like practicing a trumpet part without having access to the score, or tackling a difficult new piece without spending an hour just looking at it first.

I admire intelligent, knowledgeable, literate, score-carrying musicians. Anyone who knows one scale from another, one composer’s signature from another, or can sense the codes as they are passed back and forth. A musical landscape looks different when you know the names of things and can hear them–and, conversely, can look and sound exceedingly inhospitable and alien when things are nameless and inaudible. These simple bits of musical knowledge intensify the feeling of discovery. Every jazz musician knows this. Every composer/performer does as well. Many classically trained instrumentalists try to get by without. I know that for many years I did. I’d buy new stuff instead and have boxes of weird mouthpieces to show for it; another down payment on my condo in hell. Shame on me.

Written August 22, 2009

Last updated September 12, 2010  

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