Monday, April 20, 2009

That was classic, man OR Beethoven is overrated

My good friend had her sophomore clarinet recital yesterday and I went to support her. Before, during and after the recital it became apparent to me: I don’t get classical music.

I'm not very cultured and have really only been to punk shows, so I pretty much stuck out like a sore thumb. First off, it was at UNM campus, so I got there and asked the lady working the door how much it was to get into the "show." With a little bit of attitude she said, “The recital is free.”

Oh. A recital is not the same as a show. Got it.

Next, I figured out that at classical music recitals there are strict regulations about clapping. My friend would play a song and then I would start to clap only to get dirty looks from the people around me.

“I thought the song was over, aren’t we supposed to clap?” I asked the person sitting next to me.

"Wait until the piece is over," they said. "You’re not supposed to clap between movements."

“Cool,” I said. “What’s a ‘movement?’”

Apparently in classical music a song is called a “piece” and often a “piece” can be made up of several “movements.” Classical music people expect you to know this. My bad.

Some of the songs, er, pieces were like 20 minutes long. They were great, but I guess pop music has ruined me. When I think of a song, I usually think about two minutes and 30 seconds.

For the last song my friend had her opera singing colleague come out and they did a sweet duet, only the opera chick was singing in German or Italian or Pig Latin for all I know. I didn’t understand a word of it, but it sounded pretty.

When the recital was over and my friend was taking her final bow I started chanting “One more song! One more song!”

Apparently they frown on this at “recitals.”

I followed the crowd backstage and waited in line to talk my friend. Everyone else brought her huge bouquets of flowers. Oops. I was just going to buy her t-shirt (of course, there are no t-shirts at recitals either) and ask her to sign my face. I thought about running outside and trying to gather up a bouquet from flowers I could scrounge there on campus, but I’m sure they frown on dandelion bouquets at classical recitals too.

All in all, my friend sounded really good and I will come whenever she plays because she is really good. She was super sweet to me and thanked me for coming, even though I forgot my bouquet, so she is awesome. In general, though, I think classical music people are kind of snobbish. They are kind of like indie kids in that way. That's all I'm saying.

I looked up the top five classical composers and Beethoven was usually number one. But let’s be honest: Beethoven is cool, but did he ever sell out a stadium? Did he ever sue Napster? Have a baby with Pete Wentz? I don’t think so. And I’m pretty sure he never dated Katy Perry, designed a clothing line or got endorsed by Pepsi. He’s never had a platinum record, done a collaboration with Akon or had a song on Grey’s Anatomy.

Getting culture is hard, let me tell you.


  1. I used to feel the same way about classical music until I took an 'intro to music' class last spring. While I don't listen to classical music all the time (er, never), I have learned to appreciate it.

    By the way, yesterday I read through most of your entries and I have developed a little bit of a crush on your blog. ;) In any case, I definitely added your blog to my bookmarks, and will come back every Monday!

  2. You should grab one of those 'The best classical songs... ever!' compilation albums. They're pretty good, and very approachable.

    You'll probably spend most of the listening experiencing saying 'I know that song! It's from that commercial/film/TV show!'

    Eventually, you can work your way up to a full orchestra performing one of the 'big concertos'; they're amazing, and one hell of an emotional ride :)

  3. Hey Jacob! Thanks again for coming yesterday, I really appreciate it! And don't sweet about the clapping and the bouquets (That was my parents' idea), and my studio is a little "strict" about etiquette....mainly my teacher. But its all cool, so no worries. And thanks again for coming!! Just hit me up when the your next show is! ;)

  4. Haha - I tried to be an indy kid once! It was a bit of a fail...

    Even though you got some dirty looks, I'll bet there was someone else in the audience who just thought you were hilarious. Snobbery needs to be taken down anyway. They should consider themselves indebted to you.Seriously.

  5. I honestly thought about this post all day at work as we listened to classical music. And to be honest, I've been a music snob to people. You know, the ones who turn up their noses to those who clap between movements.

    As a music person, I think that we who know what's going on just assume that other people know too. Even though that's completely unrealistic.

    Classical music is, as Sebastian said, amazing. I'd pretty much just have to throw a ditto out there to him. Yeah. It rocks.

  6. I love that you gave it all a fair go and aren't just saying "yeah, it didn't appeal to me". Its cool. As are full orchestras.

    Get yourself a copy of the 1812 overture, if you can get through that and tell me that it still doesn't appeal then I'll be amazed.

    And you know why Beethoven was so cool? He got to be one of the greatest composers while being totally deaf! I'd like to see Kat Perry do that!

  7. I've never been to a recital but should I ever go thanks to you I am now better prepared. I recently got a copy of a Bach album from my girlfriend as I’m pretty uncultured that way, but I confess I haven’t actually listened to it yet. Also don’t give up on the chanting, if watching movies like King Ralph have taught me anything it’s that with the right amount of enthusiasm these things catch on!


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