Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

Green is NOT for Sale!

View of the vegetation and the flowers at a park in Dublin.
View of the vegetation and the flowers at a park in Dublin.

I woke up this morning craving nature, its swaths of green, above and below. I have always loved green. It’s the Valium of the earth.

Unfortunately I grew up in a green world of many shades. Unfortunately American money is green and the word “green” was co-opted in slang to mean “money”, with all it’s both magnificent and potentially destructive characteristics.

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If you had a choice between a 2 meter pile of green 100 dollar bills, neatly stacked before you OR a lush green garden that could sooth your aching worries, which would you choose?

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If you had 10 minutes to run through HaMashbir department store, what objects would you put in your cart? We used to play this game when I was a kid, asking “Where should you should go first in the store?”. Would you take something of greatest cost, or something that you really wanted?

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Well, luckily green is not for sale. It is everyone’s to share.

Unfortunately, with all the cacophony that’s going on in my Jerusalem Arnona neighborhood, especially with the frenetic building and monstrous traffic, I desperately need to “swim” in the green of nature, basking in its quietude.

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Both Sir Issac Newton and composer Rimsky-Korsekov paired the color green with F, ostensibly F major. Certainly NOT F minor. I presume that these two masters (along with  traditional Chinese musical theorists, Charles Fourier, Adrien Klein and others) imagined green grass and trees of their heartland.  F major rejoices. F major celebrates. F minor weeps. (below Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Rimsky-Korsekov.)

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I can also imagine that the green color of money (my guess would be in  F minor with a touch of blue note, minor-major) HAS brought about immense suffering in a world that puts profit ahead of social justice and the good of humanity.

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At this moment, I am contemplating proposing a new law that states that GREEN can only be used in Art if it refers to nature, and that all music must be played in F major! All music in F minor, must be OUTLAWED for the greater good. Otherwise, the color green, in all its innocent glory, will  be wrestled out from under our feet.

(Of course, F minor is a passionate key, and this LAW will NOT apply to such people such as Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Stravinsky, Charles Ives, John Coltrane and Duke Ellington.  (For them, and perhaps others, we will make an exception !).  Happy swimming in the green! Happy listening!

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About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA). His teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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