The audience and the stage

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Source: my Flickr

I was at a concert in Philharmonie last night, sitting in the audience. After many concerts where I have been on the stage, it was a strange sensation. Once again I felt out of place sitting among the listeners, even if I could never have been playing with such a brilliant team of musicians; but on a personal level I felt near to them. I saw them exchanging glances before an especially hard passage, syncing tempo and movements, laughing sincerely when they enjoyed the music they were creating, finishing a piece and immediately rearranging the instruments for the next one. I think it’s because I’ve been on the stage and in the backstage for so long that I can pierce through the wall of what the musicians offer the public as a final product, and get a glance on how they build it.

This made me think about a further point. I keep saying that I prefer to see rehearsals than concerts or shows. What I mean is that, having been playing music myself, I give high value on the way a piece is slowly assembled rather than on the single execution at the concert. It’s obviously a necessary goal, but it has almost no value for me if it’s the only part of the way I can access, because one can see a tiny fraction of the heap of small steps that were required to get there.

That’s why I’m playing again with JEB and joined a choir, to get even more backstage and rehearsals 🙂 More posts about that soon!

Ma fenĂȘtre sur la francophonie dans le monde – my window on French spoken around the world

[This is a double-language post, that starts with French.]

New-Map-Francophone World

J’ai rarement l’occasion de parler français Ă  Berlin, non par manque de compatriotes, ni d’Ă©vĂšnements en français, mais plutĂŽt par une sorte de timiditĂ©. Mon français Ă©crit se porte encore assez bien, mais je parle avec un accent belge/italien assez fort, et il m’arrive de chercher mes mots un peu trop souvent. J’ai pensĂ© de rafraĂźchir mon oreille en Ă©coutant de la radio par Internet, en forme de podcasts. La beautĂ© du français est sa grande diffusion dans le monde, ce qui m’expose Ă  diffĂ©rentes cultures et accents. Je partage ici ma petite liste de podcasts (que les Canadiens appellent joliment baladodiffusion):

J’aime Ă©couter les voix de Radio Canada, car elles me permettent d’imaginer mieux la vie de ce pays pour moi lointain, mais Ă©galement si proche grĂące Ă  la langue commune. Les problĂšmes sociaux et politiques ont des racines propres, complexes, que j’apprends Ă  voir en superposant les rĂ©cits des invitĂ©s comme les couches de peinture d’un immense tableau. Le mĂȘme m’arrive en Ă©coutant les histoires de PolynĂ©sie, terre de rĂȘve et de conquĂȘte pour qui vient de loin comme moi, mais terre des ancĂȘtres et de vie quotidienne pour ses habitants.

Écouter est mon Ă©cole de respect et d’attention. La radio est comme un livre vivant, oĂč les mots se suivent sans mon intervention. Ma tĂąche est de le suivre et de comprendre, sans pouvoir les arrĂȘter pour poser une question. La magie me prend quand je me sens comme un bout de bois dans le courant d’un fleuve, je vois ce que le fleuve voit, Ă  sa vitesse.


I have little chance to speak French in Berlin, not for lack of fellow speakers nor of events, but for some sort of shyness. My written French is still quite good, but when I speak I have this strong Belgian/Italian accent, and I have to stop a bit too often to search words. Therefore I decided to keep my ear trained by listening to French podcasts from around the world, in order to experience different cultures and accents. I share here my list of podcasts (that French Canadians nicely call baladodiffusion):

I like to listen to Radio Canada voices, because they allow me to better figure out how is life in that country, so remote for me, but also so near thanks to the common language. Social and political problems have their own complex roots, that I learn to see from the combination of the guests’ stories, that become combined like the pencil strokes of a massive painting. The same happens when I listen to stories from Polynesia, the land of dreams and conquest for someone who comes from far away like me, but the land of elders and of everyday life for its inhabitants.

Listening is my practice of respect and attention. The radio is like a live book, where words flow without my intervention. My task is to follow them and try to understand, without the chance to stop for a question. Magic grabs me when I feel like a log in a river’s current, I see what the river sees, at its same speed.