Friday, October 22, 2010

Comic Adventures in Music

It’s certainly either alarmingly original or originally alarming.
- Lemony Snicket on his "The Composer is Dead"

Let's venture into humor and classical music...

Gregory K.

A violin told knock-knock jokes.
A trumpet made a pun.
A French horn told some riddles that were really goofy fun.

The timpani and xylophone
Made lots of silly faces.
A tuba and a piccolo decided to switch places.

A double bass got lots of laughs
By standing upside down.
Every last viola had been dressed up like a clown.

The instruments played forte soft.
They played piano loud.
The woodwinds all threw whipped cream pies directly at the crowd.

I haven’t laughed this heartily
Since I can’t tell you when.
I sure can’t wait ‘til I can hear this Symfunny again.


This article by Richard Nilsen about how classical composers wove humor into their music is excellent. He explains: "It should be pointed out that there is plenty of verbal humor in music of all genres...Finding the joke purely in the notes is another beast."

And now, here's the Typewriter Symphony:

The Houston Symphony held a family-friendly concert called the "Tickle Me Symphony," which they describe as "a concert of music that shows how composers like to have a little fun. Mitchell [the conductor] will have you snickering with delight with Glinka's Overture to 'Ruslan and Ludmila' and Mozart's Ein musikalischer Spass (A Musical Joke). Other pieces to tickle your funny bone include excerpts from Offenbach's Can-Can from 'Orpheus in the Underworld,' Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours from 'La Gioconda,' Mendelssohn's 'A Midsummer Nights Dream,' Kabalevsky's Suite from 'The Comedians' and more." Sounds like it would make a nice video -- I wonder if it was recorded?

More fun stuff:
* Fantasy Concerto for Four Prepared Slot Machines
* Funny Stories: Classical Music for Children
* I Know A Shy Fellow Who Swallowed a Cello
* Lemony Snicket's The Composer is Dead
* Mary Lee posted "Poetry + Music = Fun" about Camille Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals (with verses by Jack Prelutsky and illustrations by Mary GrandPré of Harry Potter fame) just a couple of days ago.

This week's Poetry Friday round-up is at A Wrung Sponge.


Amy L V said...

Tabatha, This post about humor and joy in music was a great way to begin the day - I love the "Typewriter Symphony"! How glad I am now that it's an orchestra day for our children today. (And I can't wait to share your post with them upon my return from MN!) A.

Ben said...

Loving the typewriter symphony!!! I had never seen the video before.

Author Amok said...

The title makes this poem for me. One of my favorite PBs on this topic is the symphony getting dressed -- wish I could remember the title.

M Pax said...

Mmm pies. :D Laughter and music together are great therapy.

Do they even make typewriters anymore?

Kerry Aradhya said...

I had no idea that musicians could be so funny. I guess it makes sense, but I just hadn't heard of these types of things before. Thanks for sharing and "opening my eyes." Adding humor to music is certainly a good way to make it more appealing to some people!

laurasalas said...

I generally hate wordless music, but every so often I'll hear a piece that does make me laugh--an unexpected juxtaposition of notes or something. Thanks for reminding me to look for the humor everywhere. Love Gregory's poem:>) Love the video, too, but without the visuals, it wouldn't do as much for me. I'm hopeless with classical music...