The Right Thing?

First off, i must say that i love the movie and that Spike Lee’s mind is creatively genius. However, the movie lacks enough core substance to make it great. The fact that the film follows the interacting stories of about a dozen people makes light of how cultural differences influence views of society. The screenwriting perfectly emulates the talk and the walk of every class of New York Society at that time. Something else about the film that i find interesting is the publics attitude towards Asian-American immigrants. It seems, most likely because the are the newest, that they are of the lowest social position despite the fact that they are the most successful of the characters. Obviously, i wasn’t alive to see the influx of Asian-American immigrants into the boroughs, but i find it interesting that they were treated this way despite their economic success.

Now, i titled this post “The Right Thing?” for a reason. Knowing that it is a Spike Lee allows me to deduce that the film will have a message, most likely about prejudice and racism. The title of the film suggests that at this time everyone was doing the “wrong” thing, but this leads me to question what the “thing” actually is. Is it as vague as to cover everything? or is it simply the treatment of others? Either way, up to this point im the movie, everyone seems to be doing the wrong thing.

The Peripeteia of Don Juan

The story of the infamous Don Juan has been recanted in various forms and settings over the years. However the event that interests me most is the subtle peripeteia of regarding Don Juan, and the brother of Elvira. Peripeteia is defined as the moment or realization, where ignorance is transformed into a shocking truth. The moment where Oedipus realizes he is married to his mother being the most famous of these discoveries.

After abandoning his love, Elvira, Don Juan seeked a new relationship. However, her brothers’ wrath encouraged them to kill Don Juan for his actions. The play goes on and Don Juan saves a stranger from bandits. The Stranger, who is ironically Elvira’s Brother, admits that he owes his life to Don Juan. It is only when they realize who the other is, is the shocking truth revealed. The brother chooses to forgive Don Juan of his actions.

Ironic occurrences such as this are riddled through the literature of the world, notably in the works of Wilde, Shakespeare, and Sophocles. Moliere’s adaptation of the story, puts him at this high level of literature.

Conversations On The High Line, for solo piano

Conversations On The High Line

Link to Piece:

John W. Cleary

Performance Notes

This piece is meant to be accompanied by a recording of the Highline Park in New York City. The domain for the recording is free, but should include the “bits” of conversations from passing groups or individuals. The music should be of equal volume to the recording, almost to emulate a street performer in his environment. The recording should precede and continue after the piano for about 30 seconds, as if the piano is being inserted into the environment.

This piece lacks structure and form. Although notated in meter, the piece is meant to taken completely out of time. Dynamics should match the contour of the piano line as well as the volume of the accompanying recording. All chords and runs in the piece should be articulated in quick, yet emotional, “sweeps.” Ideally, the Pianist should take the recording himself, in order to experience the beauty of this setting, and accurately portray it in the piece.

– John W. Cleary 2011

The Power of Setting

After reading both the first 88 pages of “Just Kids” and the Article on the Chelsea Hotel, the idea of setting popped into my mind. We can see that the fact that a story, whether it be fiction or not, occurs in a specific location, makes it hold a specific weight. As a matter of fact, aren’t we taking a course titled “The Art’s in New York City?” The class would merely be a lecture if it werent for the in.

Just Kids is a perfect example of just this. Patti and Robert, meet because of, and are shaped by, the culture of the city in which they lived. Music, art, photography; what makes these forms of expression special are the fact that they are products of the environment in which they are manifested. The “starving artist” story is all to familiar in New York, and no exception in the events told in this work.

More specifically , the setting that seemed the most prominent so far is was the Chelsea Hotel. This cultural mecca was a home to dozens of the most famous American artists, musicians, and writers. The hotel has been mentioned by everyone from Madonna to Bob Dylan, an seems to be almost the Mickey Mouse Club of the Mid twentieth century, by that I mean; a grouping that seemed to filter the stars of tomorrow. Further Reading: (

For me, it is too soon to tell how the setting of Just Kinds will influence the story but i am excited to see how the world held within New York will continue to impact Patti Smith.

-John W. Cleary

The Arrival: Reflections


What can I say? this work of art was beautiful in many ways. It was beautifully drawn, “written” (if you can even say that), and thought out. In my eyes, there was even more beauty in the interpretation. The book can be interpreted so many different ways that even plot points are left up to the reader. The Story is so ‘open” that one must search for explanations themselves.

Tan, who has history writing children’s books, was able to create something much more powerful than words. But i was left with one major question: is this a children’s book? I asked one of my music professors that question and he had to think for a second… but then i realized that it could be. Imagine the level of imagination that a 5 or 10 year old would put into the graphic novel. Their innocence and general inability to synthesis what is being given to them in the form of pictures will make for a completely alien interpretation to us.

I read this book as soon as i got it (about 3 weeks ago) and the first thing that popped into my head was a melody. Now, i plan to compose a Cello duet based on this book for my end of the semester composition project. The piece will consist of 6 movements, for each chapter, and the texture and style of the playing will emulate the tones and events in the work. I am very excited to begin to work on the piece and, with Professor Rutkoski’s permission, would love to have it performed for the class.

-John W. Cleary

On the Transmigration Of Souls Response

Of the literature that we have been exposed to this past week or two, John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls was, to me, the most powerful, and fully embraced the sorrow of the attacks on September 11th. Various musical tools are used by adams to capture the different tones and emotions of the day. The children’s Choir, often used in contemporary music, to evoke sadness, does just that. The tone of the music becomes much eerier when the adult choir enters and sings almost ‘Mozart’ like chords. Also, the sparse melodies of the orchestra give the piece tonality.
After hearing this piece i couldn’t help but think of Adams’ task in writing this piece. With 50 or so different parts, it is complicated, yet it is kept simple by the form of his writing. He also has the daunting task of writing a peace that serves homage to the dead, a sort of funeral or musical elegy for al of the victims of that terrible day. The piece is inspiring and beautiful, and, in my opinion does justice to emulate the events of the day.
In regards to the texts that we have read recently, I felt that “The Limits of Remembrance” was the most interesting. It made me think of the difference between first and second hand accounts of certain events. We, have the firsthand images of 9/11 burned into our minds and, when our generation passes there will no longer be a firsthand personal account of the events. The will go straight from our minds into the worlds new History Textbooks.

-John Cleary