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One of the benefits of no comments is that what does come in is well written and fleshed out. For your reading pleasure:
Italics = The emailer
Bold = My emphasis
Regular text = El Pookius Master-Of-Universias
Here is the email:
My name is ***** [Pook Note: I’m withholding names from these emails of course], and I have read some of your posts on Sosuave. I haven’t made a single post there in my life, so I never existed there in a sense. I have urges of registering at times, but never see the point in it (or it’s either I’m too lazy). Anyway, I’m a 19 year old college student in California who first majored in music composition but switched to civil engineering recently (You are right when you say feminism has gotten into our humanities, I’ll share my experiences with that in this e-mail).
I have to say that so far your writings have made a huge difference in my life already. What is so special is that you seem so down-to-earth, which is something I feel that is lacking a lot in the world these days.
Obviously, there must be another Pook running around. I refer to myself in third person, give Pook magical powers, and grant myself the most arrogant titles such as ‘Pookus Extroadinarius.’ That doesn’t seem down-to-earth to me, but let us move on…
I really want to share some of my thoughts about music because they seem to be consistent with a lot of your values.
I’ve been playing piano all through HS and had dreams of being able to compose like Mozart (seriously hehe). I was perceived by my peers as the sort of geeky and weird kid who spent his time doing nothing but music. This led to me being terrible with the ladies in HS (since it really wasn’t the ‘popular’ music).
What struck me and surprised me when I was reading your writing was that you often will mention Mozart and Chopin. They are my two favorite composers! To me, both composers are the most down-to-earth and follow the natural style (which is composing in the melodic style of music by imitating the human voice). Kind of like how your writing is so down-to-earth and seeks only the natural!
I must make a confession: I am insanely jealous of music composers. It is the musician, not the poet, the painter, or orator, who has direct control influencing people’s souls. No wonder Plato banned them from his Republic. With anything written or speaking, there is always the language barrier. But music has no such barrier.
Music truly is the perfect union of math and art. I have heard that the best programmers are also musicians. You never realize how important music is until it isn’t there or done badly.
I can’t imagine putting together a symphony. It is hard enough to write for one instrument, let alone all of them. Also, I know you just can’t throw stuff in there. Everything has to be in tone with everything else. And the music has to have such a sense that it melts into motion.
My music education began (and ended) around a few instruments (trombone, euphonium, tuba which all have a very similar element). I know so little about music that I definitely plan to dive into it more, one day. Musicians are like the chosen ‘Pookish people.’
Anyway, so I attend University after HS all enthusiastic about learning how to compose in this natural style. In HS, I studied Mozart’s style thoroughly and I even had a copy of his simple thoroughbass method (It’s amazing; he simplifies things in a way so unique). But now I was in college and this was a sad year in my life. Not only did I receive so much criticism for majoring in music, my problems that I ignored only grew. I was still pretty anti-social and my urge to be with the ladies grew much stronger. This is when I discovered David Deangelo, Sosuave, and others. These problems were still bearable at the time, what was unbearable was the craft I put all my cards in during HS. Music.
I realized the whole University system for music was in a way corrupt! The whole “Art can be anything” philosophy ran amuck. Making it worse, the professors kept trying to make me compose away from this natural style I was pursuing! They would say I’m talented, but always criticize the style I used. I’m not sure how much you know about music, but the universities seem to hate tonal music, which is the music system that uses the tonal scale. I believe it was developed by Pythagoras and is very closely related to the laws of nature (So many classics came from this system).
Readers, picture a professor annoyed that his music student is studying Mozart and the classics from Pythagoras (A music student studying Mozart! How radical! Who else is he to study to learn music? A feminist?)
In my days in the university, I caught the professors’ eye for trying to mimic the blank verse and any other form of verse (as well as the Elizabethan sonnet and Spenserian sonnet forms). They seemed ‘annoyed’ at what I was doing. I just shrugged and said, “How else am I supposed to learn?” I later learned that these professors weren’t doers. Their job literally was the paralysis of analysis. They could write articles and papers about all these pointed hat theories on Shakespeare, but they couldn’t write a single sonnet. This confused me. Isn’t the best way to understand the great masters are to attempt to duplicate them?
I know with painting this used to be the way. Painters would take their canvas to the museum and try to paint alongside the masters. The teachings of painting techniques got passed from one generation to the next with each generation refining on the techniques of the past. For some reason, in the beginning of the twentieth century, this tradition got lost. Some blame the invention of the photograph. But this occurred with literature as well (music and theater are still mysteries to me).
I got tired of the music program and eventually quit. The program seemed to have one philosophy for composing, which is “You must compose radically different from the classics; any resemblance will be criticized upon and not tolerated.” Art is always changing and you can’t define it so it must be radically different! This whole craze of becoming radically different was also in the performance program of our universities. I heard that this one student in a recital or something had a vase near the piano, and at the end of a piece he shoved the vase off so it would shatter on the floor and that was supposed to symbolize something. My take on it was that the music had no substance so the student had to rely on theatrics like that. What’s worse is the audience buys into it and says it’s so ‘deep.’ This is the kind of stuff I had to deal with in music and to me is an example of your saying that the humanities have been corrupted. (If you want another example, look up John Cage’s 4’33,’’ you’ll get a laugh out of that!)
I’m speechless. I can’t add anything to what the musician has said.
I looked up John Cage’s 4’33,” and I’m shaking my head. I’d like to rip these ‘BRILLIANT’ thinkers (oh, so brilliant that who are we peasants to question?), but I’ll save that for another post (and give the musician the spotlight he deserves).
The highlight of my time in the program though was a time where a professional composer came to talk in our theory class (Counterpoint theory I believe). The first thing she made known to the class was that she was a feminist. Then, we had to hear her whole life story of how she had to go through life as a feminist and trying to make it as a composer. Listening to her was torture. To her, she struggled because she couldn’t find any other women to have as idols who made it as music composers. Boohoo hahaha. This was also before I even knew much about feminism and before I read your writings on sosuave, so it wasn’t that she was a feminist that bothered me, it was that she spent all her time talking about things other than music! I was interested in pure music, not her identity crisis. What was sad though was to see my fellow peers and professor eat the stuff up and feeling sorry for her and even praising her (especially the professor).
I gather that they weren’t praising her for her music; they were praising her that she was a ‘woman?’ This is ridiculous.
So now I’m starting my third year of college but in the Engineering program. I have lots of hope for the future, but I believe engineering isn’t my passion. I have been reading a lot on financial stuff and real estate, and am striving to reach financial freedom in the future. I also continue to read your writings from sosuave and now your blog 🙂 Sadly I am still struggling on the lady front even though I have made massive improvements on myself and am generally happier than I was a year ago. For example, a year ago I was 130 pounds, and now I am almost 150 and I play a lot of basketball.
The musician ends his email asking for my mentoring. I’m struck dumb because what else could I say that he hasn’t?
He knows what his passion is in life (it isn’t engineering so he wants to go back to music. I say: do it. Life is incredibly short. Spend it on what you love.)
He knows that he needs to work towards obtaining financial freedom (and he is in college! Most people don’t get a hint of this until they are in their late thirties or forties! And many people don’t get it at all).
And he knows about changing and altering his body.
What more could I say? He sounds like he’s getting the Big Stuff correct. I’m posting his email here in hopes that an older professional musician would like to give him any pointers (heaven knows my ignorance on the music field).
The only thing I could say is focus on how audiences respond to your music (real audiences, not professors and academic no-nuts) and always improve that link it has with audiences. Hopefully, you’d want to get fabulously wealthy from your music, and the best way is to also study audience’s reactions.
“But Pook!” someone might say, “how could he make money when everyone else is going the opposite way? How can you make money going against the current?”
In business, they call this a ‘disruption strategy.’ Consider all these people trying to please their professors and only end up having their lives producing rubbish. This musician will have little to no competition because everyone else will be making the same nonsense. You’ll feel like a demigod because you will be walking through empty rooms in this talent vacuum.
As for women, they tend to have a soft spot for musicians (so I don’t think his passion will end up interfering with the girls but, rather, attracting them). After 25, the tables turn and men increasingly obtain more options and leverage (whereas in high school, women seemed to have goddess like powers). This is what is so wonderful about being a man. Time is on our side. And we routinely marry younger women. Women have a shelf life- men don’t.