Monday, February 25, 2013 • 10:49 AM Comments ()

Brain Food of the Highest Order

posted by James Heflin

While the crema builds up on that last post, here's something completely different.

This morning, I sat eating my Weetabix, and suddenly the speakers nearby launched into the air a gorgeous melody. It's really quite unlike any other melody I can think of. Somehow, it seems quite satisfying, seems to resolve, even though it careens forward at an energetic pace, unbroken.

It defies easy understanding. How can a melody be an unbroken chain while somehow fulfilling the promise of resolution? Just when you're primed for the inevitable Western resolution of the big chord full of expectation that resolves to one central, solid note (aka, usually moving from the major third buried in the middle of the V chord one step up to the tonic), this melody keeps right on tumbling forward. Then it adds a second, slowly moving progression of notes on top, which makes the synapses tingle like nobody's business.

I've heard the tune a thousand times, but somehow its genius was never so fully apparent. I was transfixed, staring out into the snow while the tune unspooled. Little surprise that something so sophisticated was Bach, "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring." There cannot be enough praise in the world to heap upon that guy. Truly astounding.

The version I heard went on with the main melody for quite some time before the second kicked in, but here's a similar, if more quickly building version of the same on piano. Enjoy!:

ADDITIONAL:

Very interesting info from the Gazette today:

A Gazette review of guns confiscated last year by police departments in Northampton, Amherst, Hadley, Easthampton, South Hadley, and the State Police barracks in Northampton, provides a glimpse into the guns people actually own here in the Valley, as not all guns are registered with the state’s Firearms Registration and Transfer System.

The registry tracks sales by gun dealers and transfers, but does not account for undeclared or informal gun transfers or sales, straw purchases — when someone buys a gun for a person who is not legally able to own such a weapon — or any illegal transaction.

Almost a quarter of the 118 seized firearms were guns that cannot be sold in Massachusetts. Only one of the guns in this subset — a Sig Sauer P232 SL semi-automatic pistol — was of the same make and model as those used in U.S. mass shootings. The P232 was among the guns used during the Northern Illinois University tragedy.

What does it point to, I wonder, in light of this, from the same article?

...Massachusetts, a state that has some of the strictest gun laws and the lowest rate of firearm deaths in the nation, despite a recent increase in gun violence.

I won't suggest that I have an answer. I do have questions. Do gun owners here tend to be different in some respect? The hunters I know here do tend to be different in many respects from hunters I've known elsewhere--they are more environmentally minded, less full of PBR. But that's anecdotal and limited.

It could also be that these numbers are very low in comparison to similar gun numbers elsewhere in the country, that there are simply fewer guns here to show up in gun deaths.

Maybe the folks currently frothing up the last post could prove useful here. I seriously wonder: what do pro-gun folks in particular make of our low firearm death rate? Do they dismiss the connection, and if so, how?

ADDITIONAL: So yes, I think Bach was great. I write about the arts.

Keep it in the fairway, folks.

ADDITIONAL: Thanks for the comment. Seems likely that population density also plays a role in that particular comparison, if you mean to invoke the related crime rates.

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