Saturday, November 20, 2010

Background Music No Longer

Sometime last year, I was reading something about an artist I'd never heard of in the Polytech library late Friday afternoon.  Two, and later three, male Sub-Continent-looking students were chatting happily very near me. Since I didn't understand the language, (couldn't even begin to guess what language it was) and since they were low male voices, it sounded more like pleasant background music.  I remember I enjoyed the experience.

Last week I started to listen to the Italian Rai Radio Tre on the Internet.  Among other things I have been spending much too long on the computer, usually playing mindless games as I try to figure out where one sentence ends and another starts.  Increasing I've been able to pick up words here and there, and some common phrases.  Mind you, I still don't understand most of what's going on, but at least the voices don't sound like one long drone. And I'm pleasantly pleased this happened a lot sooner than I expected.  I'm enjoying classical music for a change, and even some cacophonic modern music I would never listen to otherwise.  

The down side is, the talking part no longer works as background music.  My brain looks for words I know, or more precisely, sounds that sound like works I know.  :-<


  1. There's a current affairs program on Friday nights and in the last half an hour or so people from all over Italy call in. I was expecting callers from famous dialectic regions to sound distinctly different, unlike the standard Italian, but so far I can't tell. Maybe I'm just not picking it up at this point, but I also I wondered if dialects are reserved for speaking to others using the same dialect only, and when calling a nation-wide radio program callers switched to standard Italian.

    As well, I'm amazed at how polite people are. Of course it must reflect the listeners of this station/program, but I admit expectations I built from Italian films I've seen over the years were so very wrong.

  2. Meg,
    Radio Tre is quite a "cultural" radio station, so I doubt you'll ever hear people speaking in dialect. The only thing you could spot is the different "melody" in the way they speak, depending on where they call from.

    Dialect is usually spoken in the family and with people living in the same area.

  3. By the way, what kind of films have you been watching? ;-P

  4. Doni, last night they had this woman speak about Thomas Mann and Freud and I don't know whatever else for nearly an hour and I just wished I could understand even just a little bit of it, or get the text and translate it. was almost delirious.

    Films? I don't mean to say Italians were represented as impolite, but everybody seems to be in such a rush, just busy, busy, busy. all the time, and also someone was perpetually in a panic. I prefer large-family-eating-around-long-tables kind, but I've seen others, too. This year I saw Fortapasc, L'Ultimo Pulchinella, and Mine Vatanti at the festival. Some I remember the titles to are Cinema Paradiso, Life is Beautiful, (OK, maybe not so rushed,) and the postman on the bicycle delivering mail to the Chilean poet; the actor died before the film was complete? Macaroni, and alas, The Leopard.

    The way people address each other in Tre, I can even "see" them doing the slight bow that I think is so elegant.

    It also reminds me of 1999-2000 Louis Vitton/America's Cup in Auckland. Everybody thought Prada Luna Rossa was sailed by the most patient men Mr Bertelli could find in Italy (and one Brazilian, from memory) because everybody always looked calm and collected and almost old-worldly.

    Mr B also told the team that if they lost the America's Cup, they would have to walk during the NZ victory parade, and they did. It was quite amazing, very one-before-the-last-century, (and this took place in the last year of 20 C,) not somber, but so orderly. Natural, but graceful. I can't think of any other words, but so different from life I experience/d in Japan, the US or in New Zealand. Like there is history and tradition in the DNA that makes them move a certain way.

    In Japan, I suppose stylized manners remain in tea ceremony, Japanese dances and old style theater, but these are very stylized and not everyday motions. They learn these, and perform these. And I am the pole opposite of graceful, as you've seen in person - almost perpetually spinning in panic. (Oh, the trouble I used to get into with the nuns!)

    The closet I can think of to the way Japanese women may have been at one point is actually the way Aung San Suu Kyi walks in her narrow skirt, but I haven't seen it that often, either.

    I also see a different kind of motion, but the same grace, when I watch some of the Pacific Island women move, particularly in their dances, but also when they just walk or do choirs.

    So maybe I'm not talking about politeness, but gestures/motions? I don't know, though, if I'm visualizing the correct gestures/motion just listening to the radio I hardly understand.

  5. Earlier Saturday afternoon, they had a program which discussed a piece of music - now I can't remember whose symphony it was - for quite a long time before playing it. It was like the Japanese educational channel, coincidentally, Channel 3.

    Later in the afternoon, they had an opera singer and two men talking about her career and specific music in between playing her singing. Though this program was very casual. Now bowing, I bet, except perhaps by the singer.

    I've been delirious, Doni!

  6. Just watched Il Postino again - we have a VHS video with Japanese subtitles! Now, that's an unrushed film.

    I don't know what I'm thinking any more, but usually whatever I/one say/s has more to do with the person saying than the observation itself. So what does that mean?

    I am of a rushed, panic-y disposition; that's almost a given. But I've been trying to live a unrushed life, especially because that's the only way I can weave. But I've not been trained to do it well; 60's and early 70's in Japan, (Time is virtue as well as money), late 70's-early 80's Minnesota, (being involved and busy was a virtue,) Japan in the 90's and early 90's, (one of the craziest bubble we had, plus I had an income and still lived at my parents' home, so being busy and social was key, though I still spent a lot of time at home,) and then late 90's and this century in New Zealand, (in some ways, Kiwis are the busiest people I know even though they don't look it; I think they play really hard, as well as do lots of things themselves.)

    What I've picked up about life in modern day Italy feels incongruous with the image of long lunches under the tree with la familia.

    But I don't know - I feel very tired and my head is not working properly. I'd love to be weaving on my purple warp, but feel compelled to prepare some shibori stuff for Monday night...

  7. Meg,
    I only got to read your comments now. I understand perfectly what you mean, as we all have some idealized ideas about other countries. Accidentally, of all the radio stations, you picked up one of the best ones, should I say a "model" for all the other radios. Their tones are so quiet and the manners extremely polite. You wish everybody spoke like that! But obviously the beauty of life is that there is so much variety, so you get also the loud and light hearted radios, as much as you get different kind of people.
    After all, we Italians are famous for talking out loud, gesticulate a lot and yes, have lunch under the tree (if you have one!) with the family, but that's only one of the facets.

    I hope you'll keep on enjoying Radio 3 - it's a great background for weaving!

  8. And one of the reasons I want to learn Italian is so I can wave my hands and arms around. I used to knock off glasses and things from the table and my Dad used to get so mad. But our friend Gino says if we ever wanted to shut up an Italian, tie his hands behind him. So, I think for the time being I'll "enjoy" the stereotypes.


I love comments. Thank you for taking the time! But do please leave your real or blog name.