I was just playing a piano score reduction of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings.

It was this song which pleyed over and over again throughout the movie "Platoon" with Charlie Sheen trying, in effect. to take it from where his father had left off in "Apocalypse Now".

And who can ever forget the command being given to Martin Sheen regarding the officer played by Marlon Brando:

your mission is to terminate his command with extreme prejudice.

We all just loved that "with extreme prejudice" part in my part of the world.

I don't play much music newer than Sergei Rachmaninoff, as a rule.

So, I had never seen this piece, but heard it in the movie, which got enough of my interest for me to locate a piano score and store it away in my private music library.

Years later I pulled it out and studied it and attempted to play it.

It was one of those really great pieces which looks on paper to be easy to play, and relatively easy to interpret.

Ohhhhhhhh, but how wrong you are and would be.

So, I have spent the past ten years trying to figure out every tiny little nuance that is required to do a good rendition of the piece on keyboards/string samplers.

During the past two years I feel that I have gotten a pretty good handle on every single element of phrasing and breathing (yes, you MUST pause after every breath) and interplay between the different string parts, etc.

It is like a very fine woman whom I have come to appreciate more and more  as each day, month, and year passes.

And all the more marvelous the longer and closer you look.

Oh, did I forget to say ----


The single most important part of this string piece.

If you take care of everything which I have thus far told you, even with the utmost precision, all will be naught without the emotion appropriate to each phrase and to each part and to the piece overall and to each subsection of the piece.

Wow, that's a lot of emotion.

And, oh, oh, it is changing faster than your hormones are ever likley to during even the wildest of wild mood swings.

So, one phrase I must have one set of emotional contents, while the next 20 seconds later, may need a subtly but very different other emotional content.

Fortunately, in most music this is not the singlemost consideration.

Ahhhhhh, but that's where this is different.

For, you see, this string piece is, really, ALL ABOUT EMOTIONAL CONTENT.

That's what makes it such a challenging and fun piece to learn.

What I really like about pieces like this is that each time you play it you discover some beautiful new thing about it, like the love of your life is supposed to be.

And it will never fully reveal itself, even if but for a moment.

And it always leaves you guessing, when you are finished, whether you have done it justice.

Have you showed it in it's best light possible?

Or, if you came up short, where, and how, and what are you going to do to remedy this?

One day it will reveal one aspect of itself, while on another day it will reveal yet another aspect of which you were most uncertain or unbelieving previously.

And so it is like a person revealing themself to you one little piece at a time.

And my favorite of all parts is that once you think you've got the mastery, or that you have the piece mastered, think again.

Such is unlikely ever to be the case, you will soon realize to your utter amazement as you now love this piece even more just as you would as if it were your very most beloved.


Now, most people are afraid of real composers because they are known to be completely insane from time to time.

Too many tiny little notes.

Too many nuances.

Too many abstract thoughts.

As a disconnect begins between what you consider to be the "real world" and what the music itself is telling that the "real" world is.

Can the music lie?

Your perception of the world certainly can.

But isn't the music perceptual also?

For it is material like everyhtinig else in this material universe.

Good question for which I do not, as yet, have a good answer.

Perhaps that is the case and I will just end the discussion here.

Or maybe we should both consider that this is one of the problems of language and communication.

There are severe limitations in all of this as we try to tell one another various different things.

For one, two people can often use the same word with two entirely different meanings as they pretend to understand what each other is saying.

Words can be used to obfuscate, instead of communicate, and are often so used.

So, anyone who would be a little wiser than his fellow might want to understand that there are numerous unspoken assumptions underlying any given statement or claim of fact.

Upon closer inspection, the area in which I am expert, few of them will stand up to scrutiny.

I showed in one paper how so-called geologists claim that rocks can tell the ages of the earth and other exxtra-terrestreiall objects, like the moon for instance.

But they are measuring radiation, not time.

And then interpreting in a most baseless and highly speculative way that the radiation can equal time.

Very many assumptions both spoken and unspoken will certainly underly any such statement.

It will soon become apparent that they have no desire to tell you the actual radiation measurements, and they will never speak in terms of them, instead, telling you through baseless interpretatoin of the measurements that this object is so many millions or billions of years old.

Why do they never speak in terms of the objective data, and instead on the conclusions of the results of their speculative mental exercises, anyway, do you suppose?

Shouldn't the raw data be the thing we are talking about instead of someone's interpretation of that data?

Then why is it never, ever discussed?

I have looked at thousands and thousands of scientific journals and articles at various universities around the western U.S. and have never seen anyone speak in terms of the actual hard data (i.e. measurements of radiation).

So, they will claim that a comet hit the earth 65 million years ago and killed all of the dinosaurs.

Why 65 million years?

Because of the fact that it is a third layer of rock (tertiary) and that the radiation measurements are of so and so an amount.

So why are we talking aboiut years when it should be in units of radiation, like rads, or microrads, or sieverts or millisieverts.

The supposed underlying measurements are never given or shown ever.

One can only imagine that they are being assumed, as if a priori.

These same little mind games are going to be found on every side of you.

So you had best become aware of them.

But, for our purposes in the world of music we want to know what music can do to affect emotion, or even to control, channel or direct emotion.

We all speak of liking to hear an emotional rendition of a great flamenco guitar piece, with mistakes even, far more than the much more accurate but less emotional player.

The recording industry and concert hall business will both bear eloquent testimony to this effect.