Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Violin and the Drums

The passersby barely noticed the music, so smooth it was. The violinist was wearing a grey cap and a thick coat, as the subway station at the 14th street was cold in the damp autumn air. He appeared expressionless holding his instrument while a multitude of humanity passed him by in the cacophony of New York City mass transit. But the emotion was clearly there, somewhere buried deep in the Slavic soul of the elderly immigrant whose melancholy tones apparently brought him back to the Old Continent. The violin played sad tunes that were vaguely familiar. The background tracks upon which he played the longing melodies were reproduced poorly by the old-fashioned boom box that was attached to his seat. Nobody paid attention to the lone musician.

Suddenly, from another part of the train platform, beyond the staircase that descended to the L train, a loud boom of drums echoed. It was first a single beat, followed by a couple of additional strikes. But within seconds the roar of the percussions filled the cavernous space. It echoed across the station and it was no longer possible to confirm the location of the perpetrator. The rhythmic beat drowned all other sound. The downhearted man with his tunes from the Old World didn’t stand a chance. Yet, he continued to bow his violin. As the train approached its own screeching and clonking drowning out the chaos on the platform, several people, I amongst them, approached the old musician to leave our change into his open violin case.

Juha Uitto 2007

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