Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I'd forgotten how good it is.

Over the holidays I got a "World's greatest overtures" type album, and finally, last night, I kicked back to listen to it. Many years ago, back at the dawn of time, I fell afoul of an extremely good music teacher and took three years of music appreciation (heavy on the western classical), and music theory. So between that and the oboe playing I'd heard and/or played most of the stuff on the album. It has been far too long since I listened to it. Far. Too. Long.

Then the 1812 Overture started up. Some people don't know (or don't care), that the overture quite accurately tells the story of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, and subsequent ass-kicking. Like, traces troop movements and battles and stuff. Musically, a Russian folk song and the Russian national anthem duke it out with the French national anthem and of course the Russian folk song wins with great flourish at the end. Tchaikovsky was a freakin' genius.

Last night I found myself falling back on an old listening-method from music appreciation class, 'retell the story you're hearing in the music'. Of course the poor husbeast was stuck with me. (He knows the song; his family is very musical. Like degrees and careers and stuff.)

He had no idea what I was listening to (headphones), when I looked at him and said "Peace... and quiet." Then, "Uh oh. Some Frenchie just stuck his dumbass foot over the Russian border from Lithuania. The oboes are pissed. The cellos aren't happy either." He looked at me oddly for a moment, then started laughing when he figured out what I HAD to be listening to.

"The French just realized everything around them is on fire and their supply line is two thousand miles long." That got an eye roll.

"DAAAAAH, da da da da, dah dah dah dah!"

"Uh oh, drums. It's their ass, now."

This went on quite some time. Sekhmet jumped off me and stalked away when the cannon fire started. At the end, I turned to the husbeast and said "And that's kicking your ass!" He laughed and said I needed to get a grip.

One should always participate when listening, I always say.

Really. If you haven't listened to it, do. Good stuff.

I'm also the barbarian that once listened to a pipe organ at the Hawaiian State Theater play Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor and at the end, yelled "YEAH. That's what I'm talking about! That's REAL music!" (It was a charity viewing of a monster movie; someone with a sense of humor had arranged the pipe organ. I'm not a TOTAL barbarian.)

Now I'm gonna go listen to Tannhauser and sing lyrics from "What's Opera, Doc?"

Be vewy qwiet. I'm hunting wabbits.


Alwen said...

Is it sad or inspiring that I got a lot of my musical education from Bugs Bunny cartoons?

Louiz said...

*snigger* *snork*

My granddad was a music examiner. My cousin a concert pianist. My granddad and his brothers got through school by musical scholarships... We got music in my family....

Although when you start to talk about it, in my view, most people start to roll their eyes and not in a good way!

historicstitcher said...

Two things:

Alwen: Bugs Bunny cartoons were supposed to introduce us to classical music. I read it a few years ago - they deliberately used classical music to get kids introduced to it, and interested in it. It worked for me!

Second: In my first year of college the room below mine decided to play rap (BAD rap) really, really loud. I turned up my radio. They turned up theirs. I put on the 1812 Overture, they turned theirs up again. I turned mine all the way up and walked out. Theirs got turned off right after the cannons started and I didn't hear their music for the entire rest of the school year!

Donna Lee said...

Great, now I see puffed wheat flying all over and have that running through my head. Time to march down the hallway....

organizer2003 said...

retired brass player here. Back in music school, we would have parties where we would watch all the bugs bunny music videos. Let me tell you, drunk frat boys singing has NOTHING on drunk musician singing of "Kill da wabbit."

What's Opera Doc has snippets from other Wagnerian operas as well. The background of "O mighty warrior/of great fighting stock" is the Siegfried Horn Call from the Ring Cycle.

Glad to find a kindred spirit.

Barbara said...

Man, now I have to go out and buy Bugs Bunny cartoons. Thanks, you guys. I loved all the classical music 'toons, like the Tom & Jerry piano ones.

Hey, Donna Lee, *snort* Puffed Wheat! I'd forgotten. Thanks for that memory.

Samurai, I finished my first 2009 object! Thanks for the push. Yay me!

Roxie said...

"The oboes are pissed!" I love it! Now I need to buy the cartoon DVD set and listen to 1812 again.

Hannah said...

"The oboes are pissed. So are the cellos." Hahahaha - I love it. It's easy to do that with an oboe, but not so much with a cello. Them - you really gotta saw that bow to make a cello sound even remotely angry.

Thanks again for the laugh.

Amy Lane said...

Dude! I actually was in band in high school (and this is a first for me, because usually I don't know ANY of the stuff you've covered) but I ACTUALLY KNEW THAT!!! My old band teacher--an ex-marine band member who ran a hella tight ship--told us that when we played it for the Spring Concert. We played 1812 with a crew in the back of the gym armed with helium balloons and naked electrical wires-- those explosions at the end weren't tympani, that's for sure!!!!

NeedleTart said...

I once had 8th graders perform the 1812 Overture with kazoos and paper bags for the explosions. You couldn't blow up the paper bags intil right before you popped them. In retrospect, I probably should have had more "cannon" players. We almost lost a few to hyper-ventilation (but they loved it).