Friday, March 20, 2009

Classical Music- Ah Bach!

I go through phases with what I listen to while driving in my car. I am always cycling between popular music, talk radio, educational tapes, and news. A couple weeks ago I just couldn't take any more news about bailouts and the economy so I switched the station to classical music. I was listening to the Sorcerers Apprentice by Paul Dukas and it brought back images of Mickey Mouse mopping up water. After listening to several other pieces I started to get fidgety because I was having withdrawals from negative news and obnoxious commercials. I wanted so badly to return like a dog to his vomit to all the noisy commercialized stuff I had been listening to for months but I didn't. It has now been several weeks of consistent listening and it has been a positive change. I am less stressed and I can actually think my own thoughts when I'm driving around.

Many people don't relate to classical music or they feel intimidated by it. I'll admit it is more complicated than pop music. Instead of saying "That was War by U2", a classical announcer says something like "You just heard Felix Mendelssohn's Octet for strings in E-flat major performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble." Don't let all those details intimidate you. I don't know what it means either. This reminds me of an episode of M.A.S.H. when Radar was trying to figure out how to fit in with intellectuals and come across as being cultured. He didn't know anything about classical music so Hawkeye coached him to say "Ah Bach" whenever the topic came up so it would sound like he was familiar with it. "Ah Bach" has been a favorite quote of mine ever since then.

Just in case you are questioning my credentials, When I was in grade school, I played the trumpet for 5 months, the piano for nearly 6 weeks, and I almost started the drums so I'm pretty much an expert on music. I consider my music tastes to be well rounded. I like all kinds of music, especially rock. I enjoy RUSH and occasionally even some Van Halen and AC/DC, so it's not like I'm a myopic classical music enthusiast.

Below I have listed just a few of my favorite pieces and composers. If you aren't a big fan you should give some of these a listen sometime. I think you would like them. Even people who say they don't know anything about classical music will recognize and enjoy many pieces from movie sound tracks. Disclaimer-Although I'm promoting classical music, I'm not talking about opera. Opera is the ridiculous result that occurs when heavy set Prima Donnas in a costumes sing along to classical music and ruin it.

Mozart-All of his music is fun to listen to because I imagine Saliere fuming in the background.
Vivaldi-The Four Seasons
Beethoven-5th Symphony, Ode to Joy, and his Violin conerto.
Holst-The Planets-especially Mars
Handel-Anything from The Messiah-It is a masterpiece (My one exception for singing)
Ravel- Bolero (This concept is what many pop songs are based on today. Oh la la baby... repeated 27 times) It's monotonous but a classic.
Carl Orff- Carmina Burana
I also enjoy Palestrina, Berlioz, Hayden, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, St. Saens, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and many others.
And I couldn't forget Bach-Ahh Bach!

PS-There are many "real" music scholars who I'm sure are shaking their heads in disgust since I have only highlighted "popular" works that the masses fall for. I'm sure they would recommend some dissonant sounding contemporary piece composed by an obscure Eastern European artist, but that's their problem. At least I left the Pachelbel Canon off the list.

17 comments:

Bee and Rose said...

I went on a news fast this past week as well. I also started listening to lots of instrumental music. What a difference it made! I will admit I had to fight the urge to listen to talk radio on the way to my daughter's dance class, but I did it.

I realized that turning on the morning news was actually more of a habit than an intentional act. Time to create new healthier habits!

Great post! It's a pretty spectacular thing to hear yourself think!

Kelly said...

Chaka,
You may be proud to know that I knew from the title of your post that you would be referring to MASH. A classic episode.

I really enjoyed the big hands link! Thanks.

I'm going to take your advise and listen to less news from now on. I have been driving in silence lately. A first for me. It's better than the depressing stuff on talk radio.

Jeanne said...

You missed Pachelbel's Canon in D Major (the staple of high school orchestras everywhere).

susette said...

Thanks so much for the vote my friend, you are swell!

Emily said...

You always say "ah, Bach" but I never knew its origin. Thanks for shedding some light on that one for me. You would probably also really like Mozart Requiem....the other exception to singing, as you say.

Gilligan said...

I would also like to recommend "A Fifth of Beethoven" by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band.

Joker said...

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Rachel said...

This is my number one trick for making it through my morning drive. I had to change to classical the other day on my way to work after a story on NPR made me weep. WEEP! As in wiping giant tears off of my face with my shirt sleeve and the girl in the next lane over mouthing, "Are you okay?"

Tyler Servoss said...

You fail to mention that your better half is steeped in classical music. Some of it is bound to rub off on you..... Quick give me a shot of Glen Beck with a Rush Limbaugh chaser!

Candy's daily Dandy said...

I suck at music but I can relate to classical music giving you a sense of calm and clarity of mind. While I don't know much about classical, I find myself enjoying it occasionally. I also love to listen to big band music and blues.

R Max said...

I too am sick of hearing bad news and I like to listen to the classics when I don't have kids around to whine and moan about "all that classical rubbish."

And Canon in D is so overrated.

Mary (MEM) said...

Ah Munich . . . Italy. (Inside Joke)

Chaka said...

Mary- That inside joke deserves explaining. We had an acquaintance who was listening to a conversation about Europe. When the topic of Munich came up he said "Ah.. Munich Italy", but he was totally serious.

Maui said...

I really don't know what this post was about, but I was able to pick out Rush and AC/DC from the middle of all that mumbo jumbo so I'm sure it was a great post.

Ryan said...

That's a wonderful list of popular works. I recently heard a rendition of Beethoven's Sonata Op. 69 performed by classical pianistRonnie Segev and it's a piece you must hear if you haven't already.

Winnie said...

It’s amazing how one man can still inspire such hot debate and interpretation. I found an interesting discussion on Pandalous about how using the pedal can alone change so much to a Bach piece. It’s here: http://www.pandalous.com/nodes/bach_and_the_pedal

mathyou9 said...

Regarding the radio announcer
("You just heard Felix Mendelssohn's Octet for strings in E-flat major performed by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble")

You forgot to mention that they usually have the most soothing of voices; very lulling indeed. They could read the most mundane of things and make it sound like a poetic masterpiece. A far cry from listening to Mick & Allen on KBER.
:-)