Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Power of Music - How About Humor?

We are , of course, aware of the many powerful projections which emanate from music. There are very few of us who will not have a tune pop up in our minds, and follow us throughout the day this tune appears - music is a pandemic force in our consciousness.
One of the many facets of human expression which music gives us is humor, and there are, to be sure, countless examples of humor or comedic projections - allow me to cite some personal experiences dealing with this aspect:
Strangely, perhaps, the first example that comes to mind is an orchestral piece, "Divertissement," by Jaques Ibert. There is a section in which he lampoons marriage by citing the beginning of Mendelssohn's "Wedding March," and then immediately lurches into trumpet spasms of "wah - wahs", absolutely blasphemising the sacred ceremony.
Horowitz, in his "Variations on Mendelssohn's Wedding March," makes marriage sound as if it's going off to war, with militant trumpet-like passages and a tempo which would cause any marriage couple to quickly run out of oxygen. I have often felt that this may have been Horowitz's true attitude toward marriage ( and this is my opinion only!), his having been married to a lady who would say in front of others "stop that!" if the great pianist's pixie-like humor would get the best of him.
One of the most fascinating experiences I have undergone is an experiment I once did while watching some of the silent comedies of the great comedy team of Laurel and Hardy.
The composers who added music to these silent movies were wonderfully clever in their matching the burlesquing of musical instruments with the visual antics of these great comedians, and if one listens to the music intently, the humor factor in it is incredibly astute.
What I did on one occasion was to turn the music down completely while watching these silent comedies, and found that for a reason unspellable to me, the antics on the screen, though extremely funny, had somehow become less funny. The moment I turned the music back on, the visual antics became more funny immediately.
Perhaps some of you have made a point of doing what I did, and have experienced the same result.
The power of music wears many different coats.

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