The Unexpected Joy of a Copenhagen Metro Commute (video)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014 - 6:03am
The Unexpected Joy of a Copenhagen Metro Commute (video)

With the dulcet tones of the Copenhagen Phil, commuters find a moment of unexpected musical joy in this flash mob scene. You will too.

Post by:
Trent Gilliss (@TrentGilliss),  Executive Editor / Chief Content Officer for On Being
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Unexpected joy. It's a subset of a feeling that many of us prize but haven't quite defined. Programming our live events space during On Being's first year of independence, I've been thinking a good deal about how to create space for this elevated sensation. And I'm remembering back, thinking about all the wonderful flash mobs I've watched over and over, especially this very quiet scene on the Copenhagen Metro in 2012.

The Sjællands Symfoniorkester, aka the Copenhagen Phil, created a feeling of unexpected joy for the quiet commuters of Denmark (check out the woman's expression at the 1:05 mark in the video) by playing Griegs Peer Gynt. But, how to capture the expressions and the fidelity of the sound? That's where the brilliance of audio technicians from Radio Klassisk:

"The Copenhagen Metro is very quiet and the recording you hear is where the train is standing still. That's why the recording you hear is so clean and crisp — and the sound is actually surprisingly good in the Copenhagen metro. We did this deliberately because we feel that a good sound experience is vital when trying to portray the actual experience that day. Further to the main recording, when the train was standing still, the recordings from the cameras was, as far as possible, mixed into the sound."

And for you audiophiles out there:

"I recorded the sound with XY Oktava MK-012 supercardioid microphones close to the soloists and a set of DPA 4060 omnidirectional microphones as overhead for the rest of the orchestra. For some of the closeupshots, the cameramikes (Sennheiser ME 66) was added."

Perhaps you could help me think along on what it means to create these experiences of unexpected joy. What might we do to give back to you and the larger community?

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Trent Gilliss is the driving editorial and creative force behind On Being. He received a Peabody Award in 2007 for his work on "The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi" and garnered two Webby Awards (in 2005, and again in 2008). The Online News Association nominated his journalistic work multiple times in the general excellence and outstanding specialty journalism categories. Trent's reported and produced stories from Turkey to rural Alabama, from Israel and the West Bank to Cambridge, England.

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I love the phrase unexpected joy for happenings like this. I love flash mobs. I read in the Star Tribune this weekend about two retired pastors who give free sailboat rides to people on Lake Calhoun in the summer, from late afternoon until sunset. One of them insists on sign-alongs and he loves children's song. How sweet would it be to stumble onto them on a sunny afternoon?

Trent Gilliss's picture

Teresa, thanks so much for sharing. I will now be on the lookout (with my wife and two sons) for these retired pastors!

Enjoyed this thoroughly Trent - thank you for taking the time to share this. I'm contemplating ideas for unexpected joy whereby readers, followers of this blog, the podcast the program can contribute. Perhaps, for starters, crowdsource some more ideas and contributions on Twitter? Use #unexpectedjoy as the hash tag? You could solicit original thoughts, quotes, etc. as well as gather links to articles, vids, blogs etc.? Cheers!

Trent Gilliss's picture

Yes, it's a great idea, Peter. I see that the hash tag is already in the works and we could give it some heft. Perhaps you could kick it off, and I'd be glad to retweet. And move it forward in unexpected ways!

The wonder in the faces of the children feeds the soul. Watching the young man remove his headphones filled me with hope that this moment gave him appreciation of classical music. Like jazz, we get on at the beginning of the song and go along for the ride and are at times transformed by the experience. How lucky are they who ride the train.

Tears of joy!

Beautiful and so refreshing to see such positive reactions from all ages! I loved and enjoyed it so keep up the good works

this was beautiful. music adds so much to our lives. thanks for sharing.

thanks for all the joy and understanding you have brought me.

Delight...surprise...wonder...we don't experience enough of these gifts because we miss what is before us....we are just too busy...too hurried...too self absorbed....I so enjoyed the delight shared. Thanks!!!


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