When the pleasure is in the comparison


I just watched Seven Samurai (Japan, black & white, 1954), then The Magnificent Seven (1960).

It’s a big pleasure watching both, but each time it’s very different. Kurosawa’s movie looks very odd, because of the culture, the language and the well known Japanese actors’ intensity. The US one is much more easy and comfortable, with stars (Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner…).

But there’s a “side-pleasure” : you compare. The stories the paces, the ends, the bad guys, the fights…


Traveling! Tourists have many ways of being tourists : in a group, alone, moving around and visiting, or staying in one city (choose Paris, OK?) and walk “going whichever way the wind blows” (we say “le nez au vent” – nose in the wind).

It’s beautiful or not, deceiving or marvelous, you take pictures or you chat with your spouse. But you have to admit :

The pleasure, again, is in the comparisons game.


There’s a game I love : learning another language. It’s absolutely full of delights. Culturally. Translating. Discovering idioms. Trying to find out where translated words don’t really fit, match the other language. Finding similar words… or traitors (a library (bibliothèque) is NOT a librairie (bookstore) in France…).

It is, constantly, a game of comparisons.


I strongly think that a big part of our inner life is linked to the world with the concept of Analogy. We endlessly get informations with our senses (about places, culture, and people, everything we meet) and then we braincompute them with what-we-already-know with analogy.

Then, we compare. Then, we decide.

This decision can be : run away, explore, smile, talk, anything.


Where else does it happen to you? Where could you trigger a “game of comparisons”? How is it an enrichment? Where is the effort? What about memories? Analogy with them?

Thanks for reading!



Continue reading

“Reorganizing from the Night” : Comparing Versions in Classical Music. #Beethoven 7th #Symphony.

You have this “struggle” in popular music, too. A Rolling Stones song can be listened on vinyl, CD, in some remastered version, on many “live recordings”, some bootlegs. It’s… interesting to compare, right?

In classical music, it’s bigger. It’s like exploring a whole continent, especially with well known composers. Try to compare versions of the Bolero, or the Rite of Spring!

In classical music, the “Best Version” is often the first one, the one you KNOW. You get used to it, and you find the other ones too slow, to different, etc… That is a problem. But sometimes you want to compare. This is an exercise. Give me your hand…

You don’t have to explore the “whole” work. Here, we’ll be comparing the 7th Symphony of Beethoven for a single short one minute moment – the quiet nocturnal break in the 2nd movement – 6:00 here. Listen from 5 to 6 to 7:00, OK?


This passage is tricky for conductors, because it’s a brutal shut off in a middle of a pleasant pulsating peace. This is why it’s fun to explore and compare. After five minutes of splendid pulsating music, it goes “suddenly in the quiet” (at 4:58), then “suddenly in the dark” (at 6:00). For me, it’s the most beautiful music ever written by Beethoven, this “less than a minute”, reorganizing from the night…

OK, let’s work. Google can help you. I decided to pick my two bibles, the Gramophone Classical Music Guide and the Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music, plus the huge 1001 œuvres classiques. Find yours !

Everybody says Kleiber, Vienna, DG is the best. Try to Google “best recordings beethoven symphony 7”. I added a few YouTube links at the end.

Tool :

What is the lesson here? What do we like in these comparisons? How could we use it in another territory? What for?

Next time, try Mahler’s 2nd. It’s fabulous!

An evening with #beethoven 7th #symphony

17:15 feline, speed changing, trusting the team, delicate, and these subtleties…

21:17 detailed, precise, shy, colored

5:19 drawned, acid, slow, deep emphatic

19:02 Slower, Architectural, nocturnal, uninhabitated

6:01 gorgeous, flexible, pulsating

16:41 look at him, sculpting the sound, alive…