Content + Context=Art

bay_owlI sat in church listening to cantor Bridgette Panek a couple days ago.

I was envious.

Her sweet voice mesmerized me the entire duration of the hymn.

Despite the terrible acoustics, I still had goosebumps.

I forgot for a moment, it was a funeral mass for a friend’s husband. He was 42.

I don’t have musical ability.

I’m sure I am not alone in wishing to have such a gift.

It fascinates me how music can stop people in their tracks if they’re within earshot of it.

Out of this world–I captured this most strange-looking Bay Owl while I was in Malaysia. About 8 inches tall. It swayed back and forth on its perch. Something about its huge eyes made it so engaging.

Maybe I was abandoned, misunderstood as a child and or that I come from a broken family.

Alright, alright, enough parlor psychology. I lied.

I know… I’ll have lots of company in hell.

I actually grew up in a very normal nuclear family with a mum and dad, a brother and sister.

The closest I can ever hope to come with my skills as a photographer is for someone to see my work and perhaps hire me at my asking price.

Ah… to be able to play music or sing with such ease and authority.

The voice is just another instrument. You don’t even need to understand the lyrics.

It’s probably one of the few art forms which can’t be faked by computers at least not “live.”

Please note, DJs who remix and rap artists, I don’t consider true singers in the true sense of the word.

I often cringe when I’m with my kids and we pull up to a traffic light and the person driving next to me has their music blaring away. More often than not, it’s hip-hop and the lyrics are laced with profanity.

Hey, I can curse and swear as good as the next person. Just ask my kids about the time I dropped a drawer full of silverware on my big toe in the kitchen one day. A good swear word every now and then provides relief like you wouldn’t believe.

It’s just that I can’t imagine subjecting everyone around me to what I listen to. Could it be I’m embarrassed by my music taste?

Yet here, I’m about to introduce you to some music?

Three Languages Three Songs

Getaran Jiwa– (Stirrings of my Soul) is a Malay ballad composed by P Ramlee, one of the most talented actors and musicians to ever come out of Malaysia. Curious about the lyrics?

DePois Do Temporais(Portuguese)–Beyond the Storm by Brazilian singer/songwriter Ivan Lins. He performed this beautiful song with legendary jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour and pianist Dave Gruisin on the album “Harlequin”

Shanghai Beach (Cantonese) by Hong Kong’s most famous singer Frances Yip. This was the title song for a very popular soap.

What does this have to do with photography? Only that photography is like any art form.

Typical of any art form, music has 2 components:

  • the tune or melody in this case
  • the context or circumstances when or where you heard the song when it touched you

In the case of a song, it may be a very ordinary song, not even technically difficult to sing.

For the listener, if that song was playing coincided with something memorable, like when a girl first meets a guy, you can bet that’s going to be a song they’ll be dancing to during their wedding.

In a still picture there is the content whether it’s a landscape, still life, or portrait and then the portion which is very hard to quantify.

That second part, this perceived value, is strange.

No 2 people will ever agree on this. This is the part I grapple with most whenever I grade.

I’m sure  anyone who has ever judged a photo contest will tell you the same.

2 thoughts on “Content + Context=Art”

  1. Ah.. gee Wanda,
    It didn’t occur to me, that could be it. You know, you’re right. Civility is becoming such a rarity these days.

  2. Your unwillingness to subject the entire neighborhood to your music is not a sign you are embarrassed by your musical tastes. It is a sign you are POLITE. 🙂

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