Music Needs No Translation

Frame Orchestra - At Grad Kulturni Centar

This Picture Just Doesn't Do these Guys Justice

Today I accidentally happened upon a strange and beautiful event. I was planning on seeing a jazz concert at the Beograd Cultural Center, which is near Republic square downtown. I had been told about it by a friend of a friend whom I befriended recently. I met another friend by the box office, if you could even call it that, and we were found out we were in the wrong place. After much searching, we found the actual place, which is the Kulturi Centar Grad. Not to be confused with the Kulturi Centar Beograda, or the Studenski Centar Kultur. These places are as different as Serbs, Americans, and Japanese. So, being late and lost, my friend Natasha, an art curator from Roterdam, and I took a taxi to the place, which was by a bridge and railroad tracks. You would never guess it was a “cultural center” by the looks of it. It had no sign, and in fact looks like an abandoned building. On the inside, it was raw. Exposed brick, exposed ceiling rafters, exposed cables and pipes and cement. No finished floor so to speak of, no finished anything. It was the shell of an old forgotten building, and full of Belgrade alternative youth. They were selling hand-made unique items from local artists that had no studio. We befriended the girl who worked there and she gave us extremely detailed directions, including a hand drawn map, explaining exactly how to find the best graffiti art in the city. First the best graffiti art, then the best stencils. Then a few random spots that had some of both. All types of people were there, and the feeling of the place was industrial, flavorful, grunge. Finally the music started and it was a 5 man band, though I don’t know if I would really call it jazz. It was instrumental, an acoustic guitar, an accordion, a bass player, a violinist, and a drummer. And the music was phenomenal. It was the type of music that – once it started, you felt as if you were in love. It may be a stretch to call myself a real violinist now, but I was touched by the one on stage. Violins can be called clean. They can be classical, they can be sophisticated, and intelligent, brilliant even…but this violinist was playing something alltogether different than this. Yes, he smoked a cigarette during the guitar solo, and sipped wine during the applause. His technique was flawless, yet, he made the violin cool. To me, this is beautiful. The sounds coming from his instrument were smooth, like chocolate honey syrup, warm and delicious, and so inviting, you wanted to eat up the sound and lose yourself in the sweet high. I was in love. There were no vocals, which was just as well, as music needs no translation. Pretty soon, a guy with dreadlocks pulled a short-haired punk girl into an impromptu tango dance, and later in the night, a few broke out into what I can only describe as a modified Hungarian countryside dance. The musicians were young very well-connected to each other, and the music was soulful, fantastic, exciting, and bold. The crowd cheered for more, and we danced like nobody was watching….in the back of my mind, I started to let crazy thoughts creep into my head, such as….Do I really have to leave Belgrade? Why shouldn’t I just stay? Maybe I could play the violin in a band…Maybe I could find work here as a pilot, my trade, Maybe I should bring my muz back here….They went on and on, and soon it was time to go. A cab driver on the way home was patient enough to listen to our broken Serbian, we were drunk with enthusiasm, the language, the people, the music, the scene, the city….
And now its time for bed….
Laku Noc, from Belgrade!

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2 thoughts on “Music Needs No Translation

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