Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Music Jokes: Conductors

This is the second part of a series of posts which are simply lists of musical jokes.
See the first part here.
After general music jokes, I thought the conductor would be appropriate to make fun of, standing up there waving his stick about.

What do do with a horn player that can't play?
Give him two sticks, put him in the back, and call him a percussionist.
What do you do if he can't do that?
Take away one of the sticks, put him up front, and call him a conductor.

"Mommy," said the little girl, "can I get pregnant by anal intercourse?"
"Of course you can." her mother replied. "How do you think conductors are made?"

What's the difference between a bull and an orchestra?
The bull has the horns in the front and the asshole in the back

Why is a conductor like a condom?
It's safer with one, but more fun without.

What's the difference between alto clef and Greek?
Some conductors actually read Greek.

How to irritate the conductor
  1. Never be satisfied with the tuning note. Fussing about the pitch takes attention away from the podium and puts it on you, where it belongs.
  2. Look the other way just before cues.
  3. Never have the proper mute, a spare set of strings, or extra reeds. Percussion players must never have all their equipment.
  4. Pluck the strings as if you are checking tuning at every opportunity, especially when the conductor is giving instructions. Brass players: drop mutes. Percussionists have a wide variety of dropable items, but cymbals are unquestionably the best because they roll around for several seconds.
  5. At dramatic moments in the music (while the conductor is emoting) be busy marking your music so that the climaxes will sound empty and disappointing.
  6. Wait until well into a rehearsal before letting the conductor know you don't have the music.
  7. Look at your watch frequently. Shake it in disbelief occasionally.
  8. Tell the conductor, "I can't find the beat." Conductors are always sensitive about their "stick technique", so challenge it frequently.
  9. As the conductor if he has listened to the Bernstein recording of the piece. Imply that he could learn a thing or two from it. Also good: ask "Is this the first time you've conducted this piece?"
  10. When rehearsing a difficult passage, screw up your face and shake your head indicating that you'll never be able to play it. Don't say anything: make him wonder.
  11. If your articulation differs from that of others playing the same phrase, stick to your guns. Do not ask the conductor which is correct until backstage just before the concert.
  12. Find an excuse to leave rehearsal about 15 minutes early so that others will become restless and start to pack up and fidget.
  13. During applause, smile weakly or show no expression at all. Better yet, nonchalantly put away your instrument. Make the conductor feel he is keeping you from doing something really important.

I found all of these jokes on the website http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/jokes/
Visit it if you want to see even more musical jokes. I just thought these were the best.
Please leave comments, and come back in three days for the next post.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Soundtrack

This is a response to a conversation I had with my friend over Facebook. His comment was:

the music was different. usually its all orchestral nd stuff. this time there was electronic john hopkins liek stuff and medeval sounding acoustic guitars. im talking background music specifically
just my opinion

Background music. Exactly. That's all it was. It didn't have any of the usual flare of a John Williams score. There wasn't anything memorable in it, except perhaps the music Daniel and Emma danced to, which doesn't really count.

They didn't even use the main theme "Hedwig's Theme" during the title sequence or credits, which they normally do.

Sure, the music did a great job of adding to the atmosphere, but that was all it was, atmospheric music. John Williams himself has this way of adding to the atmosphere fantastically whilst creating incredibly memorable tunes. Everyone knows the main Harry Potter tune, Darth Vader's Theme, Star Wars Main Title, the Superman Theme, the Jaws theme, the list goes on.
No one's going to remember the music from this film in my opinion.

(Follow the break to get down to the ratings and the next film)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Music Jokes

This is the first part of a series of posts which are simply lists of musical jokes.
I thought it would be appropriate to start with some jokes that apply to all musicians, so here goes.

What's the first thing a musician says at work?
"Would you like fries with that?"

What do you call a musician without a significant other?

What would a musician do if he won a million dollars?
Continue to play gigs until the money ran out.

"Wagner's music has beautiful moments but some bad quarters of an hour."

"A drummer is a musician's best friend."
from a Martin Mull album.

"The clarinet is a musical instrument the only thing worse than which is two."
-- The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce

Maestro (to Horns): "Give us the F in tune!"
Violist (to Maestro): "Please can we have the F-in' tune too?"

  • string quartet: a good violinist, a bad violinist, an ex-violinist, and someone who hates violinists, all getting together to complain about composers.
  • cadence: when everybody hopes you're going to stop, but you don't.
  • music: a complex organizations of sounds that is set down by the composer, incorrectly interpreted by the conductor, who is ignored by the musicians, the result of which is ignored by the audience.
  • cello: the proper way to answer the phone.

I found all of these jokes on the website http://www.mit.edu/~jcb/jokes/
Visit it if you want to see even more musical jokes. I just thought these were the best.
Please leave comments, and come back in three days for the next post.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

FOBISSEA Music 2010 (Part 3)

This is part three (and the final part) in a series of posts.

There are many reasons that I enjoyed this trip more than past trips, but the main one I want to talk about is my own personal experiences with the music. (The other main reason is that it was a much more social experience for me, and I feel I socialised with new people from my school, as well as people from other schools, but that’s not very interesting for anyone other than myself.) The Beethoven symphony is my favourite piece of music of all time. Some of the pieces I wasn’t playing in were great to listen to, James Bond, Viva la Vida, Smoke on the Water, Jump from Glee. But that isn’t the best of it. In two of the pieces, I was the only clarinet to play. One Short Day, from the musical Wicked, was for choir and a small band. I’ve had experience with pieces like this before, and although they look simple at first, they’re always actually quite a challenge. This was no exception, although it was great fun to play, being the only one playing at many points.

The other piece that I loved was called Look at the World. It was originally for the whole orchestra, but the conductor decided he only wanted 6 strings, 1 flute, and 1 clarinet to play. I was the best clarinet there, so he asked me to play. It was incredibly beautiful, but also very hard at points. For me, those two pieces were the highlight of the whole trip.

There’s so much more I could say, but this is already 3 parts long, so I’ll just finish by saying what a great experience it was, and I can’t wait until next year in Beijing!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

FOBISSEA Music 2010 (Part 2)

This is part two in a series of posts.

The organisation on periphery matters (things not directly relating to the music) this year was not as great as in the past. The food was in general just acceptable, although the opening dinner, and the final gala dinner were spectacular.

On three occasions during the trip, were had the opportunity to do one of the music-related workshops we chose before the trip. My first one — Jazz band — was pretty fun, although the conductor was a real pain. He was also the person who conducted the concert band, and he cut the best bits of Star Wars, and made us play a stupid simplified version of Soul Bossa Nova (from Austin Powers). The worst, though, came at the final concert. I was sitting right at the front of the jazz band, and he was literally one metre away from me. As I was still setting up, he had already started counting us in (he also deliberately put on this annoying accent for the count in), and started before I was even ready. He was also really impatient with the drummer, not giving her a chance to learn the one bar drum solo and the start of the piece. Because jazz band was performing in the concert, we were required to be there for both our first and our third workshop.-

My second workshop was GarageBand. To be honest, it was kinda a waste of time. They basically only taught us how to create a song using loops, and nothing more than that. Although I’ve never actually done it before, it’s incredibly easy to do, so I didn’t think it was really worth my time. There was another workshop that I wish I had done, but still wouldn’t have taught me anything. In the conducting workshop, they showed a video of Rowan Atkinson conducting Beethoven’s 5th, which I actually showed to a friend the night before. Apparently it was only the absolute basics of conducting anyway: showing how to beat it 2, 3, and 4, and how to end a piece. I’ve already had some experience with conducting an actual orchestra, so although this workshop would have been fun, I wouldn’t have learnt anything anyway.

Check back in three days for the next part of the series.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times: or, FOBISSEA Music 2010 (Part 1)

This is part one of a series of posts.

FOBISSEA: Federation Of British International Schools in South-East Asia.

FOBISSEA Music is a festival in which a large number of talented musicians from British International Schools in the South-East Asian region. Over the course of around 6 days, a large group of musicians meet and rehearse music for a gala concert at the end of the festival. It’s a great opportunity for young musicians to expand their musical ability, while making new friends and just generally having a good time.

The selection of music this year was spectacular. Music including an a capella version of James Bond; string orchestra version of Coldplay’s Viva la Vida; music from the musical Wicked, the film version of Fame, Star Wars, and glee; some well-known classical pieces such as Beethoven’s 5th and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance; and When You Believe, from Prince of Egypt.

Upon arriving in Hong Kong in the mid-afternoon, most of my friends went into Hong Kong Disneyland (we were staying at the Disneyland hotel), but I chose to stay behind and catch up on some homework — so I didn’t have too much work to do when we got back. Also, it was quite late, so they only got two hours in Disneyland: I didn’t think it was worth it.

FOBISSEA music is always really tiring — more tiring than the sport trip, surprisingly — and by the end of it, singers had throats like sandpaper, wind players had lips like jelly, and string players fingers were rubbed completely bare. The percussionists were fine though…
Despite this, playing such challenging and fun music was definitely worth the pain.

Check back in three days for the next part of the series.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overly vivid dreams

Just let me start by saying, this is a really long post, and although I think it’s actually very interesting, and I think you would enjoy reading all of it, if you just want the most important bit, skip ahead to where it says “this is where it gets most interesting”.

It’s fairly common knowledge (although not universally known) that people dream every night. Whether or not you remember your dreams depends mostly on whether or not you wake up during the middle of the dream. Given that we dream every night, it’s not surprising that most people occasionally remember their dreams.

There are so many different types of dreams, from nightmares, to wish fulfillment, but one that I find particularly fascinating are the “overly vivid dream”. You know, the one where you remember — at least for a short time afterwards — specific details that would never have been noticed in a normal dream. The ones that leave you wondering whether or not it was real when you wake up. Last night, I had one such dream.

I don’t remember how the dream started, (do we ever?) but what I remember is I was watching a film with my cousin in it. There was a really clever line of dialogue between him and a girl — who was a fictional character from my imagination, but was clearly meant to be some sort of famous actor — which unfortunately I can’t remember any more; at the time the line was extremely convincing, and I really wish I could still remember what it was (I think it was either some really wise/philosophical comment, or something romantic in a non-cheesy way.). Next, the two of them exchanged the most bizarre kiss I’ve ever seen: probably the first sign that this was a dream and not real. The two of them were facing the same direction, towards the screen, and then they turned slightly inward so that the corner of their mouths could just touch, and they briefly kissed, before my cousin left. Despite it seeming extremely strange now, to my dreaming mind it wasn’t so bad, and the rest of the audience to this strange film clearly enjoyed it — based on the background noise of the dream: yet another thing that made this dream seem life-like.

The dream then did another thing that seems perfectly normal during the dream, but is bizarre once awake: a sudden change to another scenario. In this case, my cousin (why is the whole dream about my cousin, I don’t think it’s ever happened before…) was being awarded with a trial-basis job commentating on professional sport. Exactly which sport it was was never mentioned, but because of the sports that are popular where I’m from, and what sports he’s good at, it was implied to be Rugby League. What is known, is that he would be commentating on the Saturday and Sunday games, and would be judged based on his performance during them whether or not to be given a full-time job.

This is where it gets most interesting (read on to see more)