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BucktownTiger, Lead Shopwrecker

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reposted from thump [Feb. 19th, 2012|07:53 pm]
BucktownTiger, Lead Shopwrecker
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A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: startide
2012-02-20 01:58 am (UTC)
Wow, that's a pretty awesome find. Shows you just how deadened we are to unexpected displays of beauty all around us when we're not in a situation where we are expecting it.
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[User Picture]From: kj_roo
2012-02-20 02:26 am (UTC)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html

There's video there. :)

I'd have stopped and listened. :) What he is playing is beautiful. That was a while ago. 2007. I have only been working in DC since 2010.
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[User Picture]From: flaredragon
2012-02-20 03:29 am (UTC)
I could write a book on this subject; it's more personal than most. What is beauty? What is worth listening to? Is it possible to find beauty in somethings recreation as opposed to its creation?

Message me if ya want my full opinion.
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[User Picture]From: dain_unicorn
2012-02-20 08:29 am (UTC)
What do we really know when we don't know not to?

Such is the beauty of children.
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[User Picture]From: whitewulfe
2012-02-20 09:46 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with what a lot of the others have said - sadly, as a society in general we seem to completely ignore buskers unless they're totally 100% convenient to us in that time frame.

A violinist playing Bach, and one of the (as written) best ones in the world? (Sadly, I don't recognize too many names, hence why I wrote it that way) I'd at least hope my boss would understand why I was somewhat late, especially since he seems to have gotten the general idea as to just how... powerful... music is in my life.

Overall, it is a pity that too many people in this day and age have given into rushing about from point A to B without bothering to pay attention to the journey (or the traffic around them, and trust me, I know about this being a delivery driver!!)
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[User Picture]From: hartree
2012-02-20 10:13 pm (UTC)

From the land of the Invisible Gorilla:

It's amazing just how much we miss in the world around us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWSxSQsspiQ

This isn't just a one off study. Simons has repeated this over and over in different situations. He's now here at the University of Illinois, and several other researchers also work on change blindness and other oddities with how we see the world.
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[User Picture]From: sonious
2012-02-20 10:20 pm (UTC)
In society there is a time and place for everything. It shouldn't be that unusual that people at a station are typically in some kind of hurry to get to where they need to go. If they were looking for music they'd set time in their schedule to find it.

The reason people 'missed it' was because they weren't told it was there, and they weren't looking for it.

In the world we live in a place where free time is a variable. We all have some, but most don't have much at all and consequences of not adhering to that schedule are variable in our willingness to break from it.

Because if they didn't stick to that schedule they'd only be able to listen to music in a metro station, because they wouldn't be able to afford to listen to it any other way.
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From: actonrf
2012-02-21 01:21 am (UTC)
The study and conclusion are deeply flawed due to bias injected to social experiment. First a bias against buskers Second issue is of interest and knowledge of the audience, there is a big differs between and average commuter and the Person who pays $100 a seat. The latter would have knowledge and interest in classical music that the people in the the subway.
A more valid experiment would use , a jazz musician, blues man and acrobat and examine audience reaction.

Edited at 2012-02-21 09:01 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: bucktowntiger
2012-02-21 09:01 pm (UTC)
interesting... :)
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[User Picture]From: chakawolf
2012-02-23 02:42 am (UTC)
Wow. Just wow.
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