Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Tonight was our regular symphony rehearsal for the Tampa Bay Symphony and we are currently working on Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5 (for Big Orchestra), Aaron Copland's “Lincoln Portrait” and Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto and this is a difficult concert, so much time is spent on individual practice, although tonight I felt like a complete golem. Just insert key, wind me up, and turn me loose. I never met a pianissimo that wasn't improved by at least playing mezzo forte. This is rather unfortunate, as I'm sitting right up front. Well, shit. Even the principal cellist looked at me. I like to think I'm my very own personal panzer division on the march to Leningrad, but that's another batch of symphonies written by Shostakovich, so I'm just screwed all the way around.

Anyway, we all survived, and on the way home, remembered that I had this really boffo topic for today, but had forgotten to post earlier, oops. But, it's a howler. This is one of those things that makes the rounds every few years and it's a play on bad music that is written by overly-anal composers who insist on micro-managing and writing in every wished-for nuance, rubato dynamic and tempo change, no matter how minute, with no artistic latitude left to the musician. Thankfully, there is less and less of it, but just study this for a moment:

courtesy of and written by:Michael Stump                           

Here is a presentation by the Aurora Music Teachers' Association at the CSMTA Festival. Included are "release the penguins" and "sell the mute". Ha ha.

Last, but in no way the least, we have the “Musician's Theory of Relativity”. This is both a play on words and a sly dig at enharmonics and the confusion they cause, when you're playing in C Major and all of a sudden you find a slap-in-the-face key change to E minor. You just go right ahead and enjoy that puppy; meanwhile, I'm gonna go into 2nd position and pretend I'm playing in C Major or whatever it takes to keep my brain from frying. When you start running into double sharps and flats, you're in Richard Strauss or Alban Berg territory, so don't think you're going to go and leech off of the second violins or the cellists. They have they're own problems.

It is my understanding that Albert Einstein played the violin! I think everyone should play who wants to, but only if they're world-class physicists. Just kidding.

Anyway, it is a short post day. Tomorrow I'm going to talk about George Gershwin and class up the joint for a change! 


Judy Phillips said...

Omg, that sheet music is instant headache, lol!

Dani said...

I was totally going to say what ^Judy^ did... headache... more like migraine! But some of the most amazing music looks like a bunch of scribbles!

S. L. Hennessy said...

Wow, this was an awesome post. I didn't know there was a theory of music relativity (or that Einstein played the violin)! That's so fascinating.

Good luck with the 2015 A to Z Challenge!
A to Z Co-Host S. L. Hennessy

Michele Truhlik said...

Wow, I can't believe that sheet music!!! I would go blind looking at it and have to just get up and walk away. Happy A-Zing...
Michele at Angels Bark

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! This music is a parody on other music written with very specific directions on how each note, dynamic and whether or not it should be expressive or short, should be played. It's meant to be a migraine. What killed me, was the attempt to actually play it! I would have opened the piece, gotten up out of my chair, told my manager that my parakeet had died and that I was needed urgently at home, if this were a "serious" work. There are pieces by composers that look similar, like "Black Angels" for string quartet, or "To the Victims of Hiroshima", but in those cases, the notes are more open to interpretation, and suggestive of pitch, than an actual representation of what the composer wants you to do specifically. So, no performance is quite like the other. Still, they're headaches! Thanks for the visit! Mary

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! Migraine... check! Scribbles... check! I particularly like the musical directions "Inflate the Circus Clowns" and "O.K., who ate the resin?" The many, many references to frogs (perpendicular to the frog, before or after the frog, etc.) have to do with a piece on the violin, viola, cello and bass bows, called the "frog" which is located just under the right forefinger. Stump must have a thing for frogs, because they appear in all of his other parodies as well. I particularly like his cluster of "Downbow" markings, that are similar to the Greek letter for Pi. They're all jammed together and would sound like a bunch of garbage can lids skidding across the pavement! Anyway, there's any number of amusements in this piece of "music"; I find something new to laugh at everytime I look at it; just don't ask me to play the thing! Thanks for stopping by, Dani!

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! Yes, he did! I am the niece of a nuclear physicist and a nerd trifecta; music, math, computers (and now, gaming, but that's another story) and my uncle informed me early on that Einstein had played the violin. I ran across the "Musicians' Theory of Relativity, when I was going back to school a second time for computer science.

You see, I did a dumb thing; I married someone who also played the viola, and I got a gig touring with the Moody Blues, and he didn't. Well, all sorts of hullabaloo occurred from this event, and I concluded that he was very upset that the Zither or Flute Fairy had not, in fact appeared on our wedding night to turn me into something OTHER than a viola player, which is never going to happen! So, after the tour, I went back to school and majored in something I thought was ENTIRELY different, computer science. Well, it really wasn't because of the mate involved and I ran into a whole bunch of NEW Computer Sci/Music nerds in Florida where I moved to, when I divorced the violist. Sometimes you just can't get away from yourself! Anyway, the symphony I play in now is full of computer nerds. Go figure. Thanks so very much for dropping by, S.L.!

Viola Fury said...


Thanks for stopping by! This music was written in either a parody or response and frustration to the student compositions we were always forced to play in Music School! We would be given instructions in the margins like "play energetically, but with torpor" ??? What are we supposed to make of that? The more you go over this little gem, the more silly it becomes, which, I believe is the aim of Michael Stump!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Happy a-to-z'ing too, Michele!

Arlee Bird said...

That sheet music is absolute musical insanity. The recording is even more absurd. Sounds like an extreme parody of something by Frank Zappa.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Andrea said...

Holy crap that music is crazy!