Fugues

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By Brian Glucroft

After all of my posts related to my interest in China, technology, etc, I'd like to share a little about another passion of mine -- music.

As alluded to in my blog's name, I like to use the fugue musical form and other forms of musical counterpoint as a loose analogy for appreciating much of the world around me.  It's difficult to explain but if you watch the wonderful film Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould and pay particular attention to the scene at a truck stop you'll get a taste of what I mean -- the way the different threads in the world interact in their own special way to create a unique experience.  I'd provide an excerpt but I don't think it makes as much sense outside the context of the movie.

Today, I'd like to share a fugue by the master of fugues, Johann Sebastian Bach.  It's not just any of his fugues, but one from his tour de force series "The Art of the Fugue".  I highly recommend listening to it several times.  Try to focus on different lines in the music, for example following just one of the instruments playing.  Like getting to know any culture, the more you time you spend on it the more the interrelationships, intricacy, and beauty emerge.

I chose the following recording for several reasons. One, it is a fantastic example of how technology can be used to find new ways for people to express themselves - even when the subject is an old masterpiece.  Another reason is it features instruments from an older period of music unfamiliar to many.  Finally, and not least, the performer is a friend of mine who I first met while studying at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins about a decade and half ago.  I think you'll see that James Howard Young, a professional musician, also loves fugues.



Based in Shanghai for over four years, Brian Glucroft has worked as a researcher in the user experience field for online services, electronic devices, and software companies, including Microsoft China, and has a new blog at Isidor's Fugue.

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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