Its Saturday! How Vikram Seth & Zadie Smith led me to Joni Mitchell

When I recently read “An Equal Music” by Vikram Seth, there were some passages that described music in such a detailed and moving way that I had to hear the piece. Most notably was the part where the main character describes playing the first part (o.k. its called “contrapunctus”) of Bach’s Art of Fugue in a concert, where each member of the quartet joins in separately.

It suddenly occurred to me that I have YouTube at my disposal and that could be a great reading companion. I listened to several pieces as I read the book, though mostly to Art of Fugue as we have it on CD and I could listen to it without the computer (looking forward to getting an ipod for my birthday!!!).

Last Sunday I got home from school late, and read a New Yorker Magazine piece by Zadie Smith (author of “White Teeth” which I enjoyed) about Joni Mitchell. How for year she never liked her singing (” a white woman wailing, picking out notes in a non-sequence”) and then how she discovered her. I identified with the first part – she’s from the period I like a lot (I’m a huge Simon and Garfunkle fan, by the way) but have never taken to her music.

Looking for a way to encourage my tired self to get going with the kitchen I remembered Vikram Seth and took out the computer. YouTube  to the rescue!

Zadie Smith recommended the album BLUE and I’ve listened to it 4 times this week. I discovered the bit she she described as sounding like “Jingle Bells” and other details she mentioned.

It was just right for me. A different rhythm from what I was used to. I can’t say I am now a HUGE fan but there are at least 4 songs from the cd I really like. Its funny to think that words on paper introduced me to music!

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