Uncommon Measure: A Journey Through Music, Performance, and the Science of Time

Natalie Hodges. Bellevue Literary, $17.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-942658-97-9
Korean American violinist Hodges debuts with a literary mosaic of invention, inquiry, and wonder that interrogates classical music, quantum entanglement, the Tiger Mother stereotype, and the fluidity of time. The through line is her lifelong study of the violin and how her chronic performance anxiety (“nothing more or less than my fear of relinquishing control over the moment”) ended her dreams of becoming a concert solo violinist in her early 20s. To understand how she arrived at that point, she delves into the psychology of musicality, arguing “the desire to make music is as much a desire to assert the individual self as to connect with others.” She profiles Gabriela Montero, a classical music outlier whose improvisational talents have fascinated neuroscientists; pays tribute to her mother, a Korean immigrant who gave up music to become a lawyer after graduating from Harvard; condemns her father, a white New England blue blood who thought his children’s violin playing “smacked of ‘middle-class’ immigrant striving”; and looks to quantum physics to reshape her past ambitions into a “more expansive” love for music. In restrained yet lyrical prose, Hodges moves toward a kind of liberation through and from the “closed system of the canon” to offer a luminous meditation on the ways in which art, freedom, and identity intertwine. This impresses at every turn. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/10/2021
Release date: 03/01/2022
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 978-1-942658-98-6
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