Anchoring her story in research in neuroscience and quantum physics, Hodges traces her own passage through difficult family dynamics, prejudice, and enormous personal expectations to come to terms with the meaning of a life reimagined—one still shaped by classical music but moving toward the freedom of improvisation.
... an indeed uncommon and genre-defying book probably best shelved under 'memoir,' though its essayistic form and intermittently pedagogic style can give one the not-unpleasant feeling of sitting in a lecture or concert hall as someone else’s emotion and erudition washes over you. Hodges doesn’t mention Proust — at a heavily annotated but scant 200-ish pages, this book is perhaps the anti-Proust — but like him, she is in search of 'lost time,' accounting for and analyzing years of her young life devoted to repetitive musical study, and for what? Why? ... This personal story reflects the sad, often lilting melody of Uncommon Measure, which is written in a mostly minor key. But like a good orchestrator, Hodges deepens it by filling it out with other elements ... certainly in Hodges’s prose, you can sense a great freeing-up, what in her original discipline is called rubato, a rare ease. In words, as she could not in notes, she seems able to fruitfully process a tough past and contemplate a brighter future.
... fascinating ... Hodges presents an accessible memoir in essays that bridge the time-space continuum in musical terms ... Her description of Johann Sebastian Bach's Chaconne invites readers to listen as a violinist would. She pays tribute to her Korean immigrant mother and posits an enlightening suggestion to think of cultural 'assimilation' in terms of symmetry rather than equality. It's a book to savor. The ideas are dense; readers will want to pause and digest them. They offer a way to see the world anew, to reframe experience, the way Hodges has come to understand her own: from the inside out.
Hodges plays for readers a mourning song for the life she and her mother had envisioned for her ... Hodges is at her most vulnerable when she writes of her mother, who as a child immigrated with her family from Korea to Denver, where she began studying the violin at 9 ... Hodges’ writing leaps from the page when she describes how music has the power to both unmoor and ground her. In the essay 'Chaconne,' she writes movingly about how playing the final movement of Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D minor, written for solo violin, is akin to inhabiting the composer’s mind-set, his 'rage and grief,' and making it her own.