Thought Experiments

December 17, 2022- I spent part of this afternoon, prior to taking in a Latino rock band’s performance at the Raven, listening to several jazz arrangements of classical pieces. These included renditions of ceremonial standards: The Bridal Chorus, Wedding March, and Pomp & Circumstance-which I regarded as an elegant drudge at my own graduation from High School, some fifty four years ago. Most such jazz arrangements are thought experiments; some are done with the knowledge and encouragement of the original composers-Maurice Ravel and Aaron Copland certainly smiled at the best of up-tempo versions of their work. Petr Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Bach would likely have felt the same.

The wedding-related pieces have been worked into certain nuptials, though I haven’t heard of any usage of Tom Kubis’ rousing version of “Pomp” in a graduation exercise. Methinks the kids would love it, but not so, much more traditionalist adults. Nonetheless, thought experiments, so long as they don’t lead to harm of anyone, or to disparagement of the tried and true, are good for individual and collective consciousness. This extends to most alternative adaptations of traditional music-though a few loud, up-tempo versions of children’s lullabies have fallen flat, mainly because of the decibel level of the performances (not good for tender ears) and the fact that the purpose of a lullaby is usually to get a child to calm down and go to sleep.

This brings me to “thought experiments” that have been broached recently, by prominent personages, and pertaining to everything from the United States Constitution to how people should live their lives when in private to the composition of life in the Universe (Some have posited that there are planets inhabited by Cat People and Horse People). Such exercises, besides being rather numbing to the consciousness of those entertaining such thoughts, and disruptive to the national fabric, are flying in the face of the forward march of history. They are allowed by said Constitution, but like the most raucous of loud and swinging lullabies, are best kept to the privacy of their fashioners.

Jazz interpretations of Classical Music, reasoned political discourse-regardless of viewpoint and careful research into any aspect of life in the Universe add luster to our social condition-at least from where I stand. Those thought experiments that solely reflect the egotism of their adherents serve no redeeming purpose.

5 thoughts on “Thought Experiments

  1. There are some variations that bccome favorites (example, Rachmaninoff’s Variations on a Theme of Paganini). To be acceptable (or should I say ‘accepted’?), it would seem that a variation should follow the same tone and genre as the original.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Janet’s comment was a casualty of my new and unruly keyboard, which jumps around and marks random comments as spam-which WordPress then refuses to reinstate. Anyway, regarding Rachmaninoff and company, the interpretation at least needs to be recognizable, relative to the original.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My comment basically said that the variations that become favorites need to have the same tone and other qualities of the original, with the example of Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.


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