Music, Thoughts

Music was my first love

 

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I thought the opening of the latest sim addition, Bar Cafe Fabriken, would be a good angle for some stories about music and what music means to us. I would love to hear others on that subject as well! What does music mean to YOU, what role plays it in your life?

Let me start with my “musical history”. I grew up with music. My dad played the guitar and my mom the zither, rather folkloristic and not really the type of music I liked later on, but back then in toddler times any kind of music was welcome. I learned early that making music was something enjoyable, something that gave people a sort of togetherness and seemed to make them happy. Some of my dearest childhood memories are about hiking trips with friends and family which always ended in sitting around a campfire with my dad playing the guitar and everyone singing.

When my mom would prepare lunch, she always put on the radio. One of those old things that took ages to warm up before you heard anything. And then she would cook and sing along to the old easy listening tunes. (Maybe that’s why her meals always were delicious.)

I got toy instruments all the time, my first was a clarina:

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And my fav one was a toy piano:

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Not to forget my tin drum of course that really drove my mom crazy!

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I started to learn piano and guitar quite early after the obligatory year of horrible recorder that about any child back then had to go through. But becoming a teenager I lost interest in practicing and would rather spend my time with other things. My dad tried to make me stick to it, forcing my ass down on the piano stool, but after some months he gave up on it.

It was later on as an adult when I picked up my guitar again, and even sat down at my piano again. This time playing what I wanted and not what some teacher would force me to practice. I never had the ambition to become a great classical pianist, practicing Bach, Chopin and Beethoven for hours was not my thing. I rather wanted to be able to enter a bar, sit down at the piano and play some jazzy tunes.

And then one day after work I happened to enter a hotel bar in Munich with some friends, and there he was, an old guy, sitting at the piano, playing just like I would have loved to be able to. He sat there, wearing a hat, talking and laughing with the people while he played. I was fascinated and asked the barkeeper about him. His name was Simon Schott, and he was a quite famous bar piano player.

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He seemed a very interesting person and I wanted to get to know him. I kept coming back to that hotel bar (where he had played for over 30 years), standing by the piano, talking to him, listening to him play about any request he got (he had a repertoire of more than 2000 songs), always with a smile on his face.

One day I invited him for dinner and he told me about his more than interesting life. After WW II he played in Paris for Rity Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart (“He didn’t really like his movie ‘Casablanca’ you know, he never asked me to play ‘As time goes by’”) or at private parties of Coco Chanel. He played at ‘Harry’s New York Bar’ and knew people like Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway or John Steinbeck. He was also a writer, he gave me two of his books back then, one about his life and the other one about how to play bar piano, both very interesting reads. He died at age 92 and had played in that hotel bar nearly till his last day.

Here’s a clip about him:

I really liked that guy, and he inspired me a lot to go back to playing the piano. I will never master that instrument, but it is a great way to relax, to soothe my soul, and if I finally succeed in playing a piece I’ve been practising forever, it gives me satisfaction and the feeling of “yes I did it!”.

Music has always been an important part of my life, and I am happy I can play some instruments, even if just good enough for domestic use.

And finally for your listening pleasure, here are two of my favorite piano pieces to play:

Thoughts

What is Art?

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I have run into this question many times in my life. And I haven’t found a universally valid answer to it yet. I have been to exhibitions that made me go “wow, that’s amazing!” and I have seen others (like gallons of spilled stinky motoroil on the floor) that made me and probably always will make me go “WTF?!” Same thing when it comes to music – there are musicians that really get me and I consider them fantastic artists and others that make me wanna plug my ears and run away screaming. I have seen movies that touched me deeply and others that just made me shrug and wonder what they really are about although they have been showered with awards.

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In German there is a saying: “Kunst kommt von können.” Basically it means that the word “art” derives from the word for “being capable of doing something, having the skills to do something”, the German word origin actually is like that. Some “operas” I have seen truly made me wonder what other capability than splashing some paint on a canvas or triggering the camera release the artist would have. And I am sure that there are a lot of so called “artists” out there who just have a good laugh at the people standing in awe in front of their works that they actually didn’t put any artistic thought or effort into at all.

Untitled4US artist Cynthia Albritton “Plaster Caster” with a plaster cast of Jimi Hendrix’ penis. Her exhibition “Penis Dimension” with 25 penis exhibits has been discussed quite controversal (uhm really wondering why?)

Untitled545-year-old Mike Drake has been doing something bizarre in the name of art for over a decade – he’s been collecting all his fingernail clippings, stuffing them in paperweights, and selling them for $300 to $500 a piece! (Yuck, seriously?!)

Untitled6Like many other animal lovers, Dutch artist Bart Jansen found it hard to part with his pet cat, Orville, after he was hit by a car. So he decided to turn the dead feline into a unique piece of artwork called the Orvillecopter. (Alright, call the guys with the straitjacket!)

Yep, some things will definitely just make me flip the bird forever! Even if the artist’s name is Joseph Beuys and the “masterpieces” are worth millions:

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Untitled10The cleaning staff removed this art installation in an Italian museum, thinking it was leftovers of a heavy party night.

On the other hand I am also sure that many artists have an approach that is just only entirely different from mine. A different way of thinking, a different way of looking at things, a different way of perception, a different way of expressing themselves. What seems to be easy to achieve for me may be a huge effort or great achievement for others. Some skills I have that seem to be just part of me or natural to me, others would love to have them (so I’ve been told) or they have to work hard to achieve them. Some things I look at as ordinary and uninspiring to other’s may be special enough to use them for an artwork.

The definition of art is something personal I think. What someone considers art is determined by their own capabilities, by their taste, by their sense of aesthetics and beauty, by their education, maybe even by their dreams, wishes, desires. Art like beauty for me is in the eye of the beholder.

So is art on Furillen. When I scroll through the Flickr group site and look at all the pictures and movies there, there are some that capture my eye instantly and others that make me think “yeah well, ok, another snapshot”. But I also have noticed that I change my way of looking at works once I get to know the people behind them.

So basically I think the main thing is to keep an open mind for everything ranging outside our usual horizon, and that goes for about anything in life. We don’t need to like it all but we should just give things the space they deserve.

Reminds me of the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” which surely has some truth in it.

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