11.29.2020 12:23 PM

Yo-yo Ma is a godlike genius

Just read the interview with him in the New York Times Magazine. He’s just brilliant. Full interview here.

Snippet here:

Do you think music is fundamentally good?

That’s a good question to ask and very hard to answer. It’s as if you’re asking me “Are people fundamentally good?” I don’t think people are fundamentally bad. But in the interaction of figuring things out or wanting more of something or less of something, then complex things come into play.

I ask because your work is rooted in the idea of music as a value-positive, ennobling thing.

But music is also used in every possible awful context. Can we delineate music from the intentions of the people using it? Music connects human beings. It brings people together. You can also describe it as energy: sound that moves air molecules. So a marching band will energize an athletic game or bring people to war. The bagpipe is used for war, for entertainment, for funerals, for weddings. Music is not one thing. It’s something that people react to. But your question — “Is that good or bad?” — it depends on circumstances and individuals and timing. The invention of something starts out being more or less value-neutral. Agriculture: Nothing bad about it. But if you’re able to grow a lot of vegetables and I can’t grow any on my land, I might want to get some of your vegetables.

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