Thursday, January 28, 2010

Classical Music is for Ponces #1

WARNING: This post is a foretaste and warning of several to come that will deal with classical music and will be of no interest whatsoever to anybody at all except Gyppo, and maybe not even him.

I'm required to write a post with this title after having unfairly maligned the good folk of the Heavy Metal Community and then poured scorn upon our Jazz Brethren. Now, I listen to a fair amount of classical music when I get the chance, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not for ponces, as I shall now demonstrate:

I'm a big fan of Bartok, and living in Transylvania - the great Hungarian, composer, ethnomusicolgist and piano student botherer was born nearby and did much folk music collecting here - means I can hear a lot of his stuff either on Romania's excellent TV Cultural channel or at this town's Hungarian Opera House. The other day his 6th String Quartet came on the TV, and Mrs Dilo was with me. She doesn't enjoy this stuff too much but always knows when to keep her council. Rather than let her flip over to MGM Movies I decided to sit it out. For me it's a splendid piece, the last he wrote in Hungary before fleeing to America from the encroaching Nazis, whom he despised, and it seems to me a return to the folk music elements present in his 1st string quartet but which were then increasing abstracted in later ones. Now, to try to justify my choice of viewing I said this to Mrs D:

"Heh, listen, you can hear the noises and rhythms of the Transylvanian countryside here!"
{pause}
"Is that a chicken? It sounds quite agitated."
"No, it's a 'Bartók pizzicato', where the string is pulled so high that it slaps back onto the finger board. Errr, maybe it represents a turkey."
"We didn't have turkeys until recently. It's a duck."
"Can't be a duck, duck's coming later in the 4th movement (gulp)."
"And that is Uncle Tavi's dog, the one with no teeth?"
"Well, that was a leitmotif depicting an architypal Transylvanian dog, of which Uncle Tavi's dog is indeed an example. I thought the viola player did it rather well."
"She missed a lot of notes in the last section."
"No, that was supposed to sound jangly; in fact, ha ha, sometimes it's amusingly referred to as the Ode to the Dacia 1300!! (double gulp) It was quite ahead of it's time."
"As was the Dacia 1300 Lux Super with its twin wing mirrors and heated rear windscreen when it first appeared in 1970?"
"Exactly! Oh, I'm so glad you're enjoying this as much as I am."

I was winging it - how much longer could I last? Luckily it's a fairly short piece. But the fact I could say such nonsense without ever having farmed a piece of land in Transylvania clearly marks me out. Ponce.



19 comments:

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The Dotterel said...

Well, well Dr Gadjo - you kept that particular fetish well hidden behind yonder bushel... Wasn't it Bartok of whom Sir Thomas Beecham memorably said when asked if he'd ever conducted any: 'No, but I rather think I once trod in some.' No, your right, it wasn't. Just a pathetic excuse to get my favourite Beecham anecdote out

Scarlet Blue said...

I did a short [and very easy] music appreciation course with the OU. I wish I'd had your descriptions handy when I wrote my essay...
Sx

Lulu LaBonne said...

I only get to hear classical music if I turn on the telly and catch an airline ad - so I'm not a ponce, but I might be other Bad Things ooeer!

Gaw said...

I owe a lot to Eastern European classical music. The pieces I know and love were made familiar through listening to ridiculously cheap CDs by obscure (to me) symphony orchestras from the former Eastern bloc. I assume they were forced to flog their wares in the West to make ends meet in the financially straitened '90s. It's an ill wind...

Gadjo Dilo said...

Look man, I will visit your blog, and I will seriously contemplate the possibility of following you.

Sir Dotterel, au contraire, I've worn my fancy classical music afficionadoism on my sleeve before now! I always thought it was Stockhausen he was talking about; and Beecham's gravestone reads "Nothing can cover his high fame but heaven, no pyramids set off his memories but the eternal substance of his greatness" - hmmm.

Scarley, well done you, those OU courses are excellent! I'm sure you can make your own such silly farmyard noises when next you're listening to something :-)

Lulu, you're definitely not a ponce, you're a very very lovely person (why am I sounding so patronising today?? It wasn't my intention).

Gaw, ahh, good for you, I guess that might be the excellent Polish label Naxos or Czech Supraphon or Hungarian Hungaroton... there's maybe worse ways to spend your hard currency :-)

inkspot said...

So jazz is constipated and classical divides itself into movements. What is it with musicians?

Alice Scradcza said...

Bronius Kutavičius and Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis are good Lithuanian composers. But really I like Bob Brozman because he is brilliant on steel guitar, and one day I try to make one. Maybe like Seasick Steve's Morris Minor guitar.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Sadly, I could never cotton to Bartok, try as I may.

You do do a good line in blather, though.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Duck noises in classical music is a brilliant innovation, if you ask me. Much more radical than owl hoots, which are too easy to imitate.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Inky, just you wait until I get onto those finger-in-the-ear folk musicians ;-)

Alice, sweetheart, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis is a bishop of the Lithuanian Autocephalous Staroobryadtsyist Church and Bronius Kutavičius is a type of dinosaur. But please introduce me to Seasick Steve, I like him already!

Kevin, he once wrote a quartet for Wurtitzer organ and three banjoleles - interested?

Bananas, quite, about as piss-easy as a cuckoo, which some composers still think is an amusing musical device.

Kevin Musgrove said...

now you're talking!

Mary Ellen said...

Maybe it's just me, but I had no idea what a "ponce" is (and I'm still not entirely sure, after some help from WordNik, exactly what you meant) BUT that all being said, this was hilarious. And the ice skating one too.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Kev, I'll make a copy on a CD for you right away!

Mary Ellen, thanks, and thanks for dropping by. "Ponce" is a surname of Basque origin" sez Wikipedia, a pimp, a male homosexual, or (the meaning I intended) "An individual who attempts to fake having intelligence, class, or culture".

No Good Boyo said...

My party trick is to sing "Erdő, erdő de magos a teteje", and all thanks to Mikrokosmos.

Madame DeFarge said...

I'm not familiar with Bartok, as I am resolutely urban. No chickens in Beethoven. Plenty of bin lorries though.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Boyo, sounds great, I couldn't find a tune with exactly that name on YouTube, but is it this one? Mikrokosmos is a work I haven't got yet, a situation soon to be rectified.

Madame, he missed a trick by not using chickens! (Are we talking about Camper Van Beethoven?)

No Good Boyo said...

I like it, but it's not the one. Here it is:

http://www.cimbalom.nl/mp3/erdo-erdo-de-magas-a-teteje.mp3

It's also Mikrokosmos 127.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Boyo, excellent, and oh so Hungarian.