Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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Irrational musical dislikes

Orchestral strings played pizzicato. These have been thoroughly spoiled for me by being used "humorously" in reality TV programmes, where they're typically background music for people poking around French farmhouses they're thinking of buying, or failing to coax the best from a flan. They've nearly gone the way of the trombone and tuba, now for ever associated in my mind with the "comedy" parts of natural history programmes ("Look at the baby warthog as it learns to galumph around the water hole! Oompah, oompah!"). Yuck.

Pretty much anything played in 3/4 time. Yes, I know this covers an awful lot of territory. It really comes down to my being repelled as a child by the kind of grown-upness for which nineteenth-century Viennese waltzes were to me a metonym. Grown-ups twirling in pearls and thinking they were so bloody sophisticated when all they were was boring, boring, boring. At some point my brother pointed out that not everything in 3/4 was by Johann Strauss. "What about the opening of the Eroica?" he said. Fair point, but then that is my least favourite Beethoven symphony. (5 is the shit, except for the second movement, which is in lumbering 3/4: how I wish he'd used the second movement of number 7 there instead!) I admit 3/4 can be okay, but mostly when it's not at all insistent, or when it's so insistent as to become deliberately grotesque, as here or here.


Irrational musical loves.

The banjo. Just can't get enough of it. Can anyone?

But then this:



is in 3/4!

Banjo is wonderful in the hands of a good player.

It's lovely - though also a bit grotesque (see above), as an infernal dance probably should be.

I'm sure you'll be able to point to many lovely 3/4 pieces and I'll probably admit their loveliness, while classing them all as happy exceptions: that's what an irrational prejudice is for.

Rather than have that "Palm Court" view of Johann Strauss, my first-ever encounter with his work was hearing "The Blue Danube" used in 2001. As you can imagine, that gave it an entirely different connotation and flavor in my mind.

I liked to dance (I mean formal dancing, mostly folk rather than ballroom, not the free-form shaking that people do to rock music, which I have never understood) when I was still physically capable of doing it, and waltzing to a truly elegant 3/4 with a good-enough partner was one of the true joys in life. My highest nirvana in that department was reached to the tune of Enya's "Caribbean Blue."

I equally have none of the connotations you have for pizzicato. I like all-pizzicato movements like this one (performed by my home-town orchestra) or this (a notable British contribution to the genre).

What do I viscerally hate in music? Twanging. The sound you get in country-and-western music. It leaks over into American folk and bluegrass too. Music of those kinds that twangs, I hate it. If it doesn't, I love it.

I think connotation is 95% of what I'm talking about: I can't pretend to any kind of objectivity here. To me, pizzicato will probably always be a dog walking on its hind legs, a sound to be condescended to, a ponderous jest.

I missed out on dancing entirely, for various reasons. I do regret that.

I'm not a big fan of country-and-western generally, but of course one can often find a banjo or two there, which is a comfort.

Banjo. As with the others. If it twangs, no. If it doesn't, then sure.

Agree about pizzicato and oompah oompah. I love waltz time (but the grownups in my life only listened to jazz). Totally indifferent to banjo, though I adore the (acoustic) guitar.

I'm not mad keen on jazz either, generally speaking, but I don't have the same animus towards it.

Yes, to the banjo.

But I have a weakness for 3/4 time, whether it's a louche melancholy end-of-the-world waltz or a nice scherzo. One of my favourite pieces of all time is the second movement of Sibelius Symphony no. 3, a piece in 3/4 time and with the most amazing pizzicato.


I think that's in 6/4 (3/2) time, not 3/4, and is thus perfectly fine! And pizzicato (I should have made clear) is also dandy, in a supporting role - it just shouldn't be asked to carry the melody.

I love the banjo toooooooo.

I congratulate you on your excellent taste!

Love: The unaccompanied human voice. Fugue. Mediaeval instruments that buzz and blat.

Not so keen on: Cerebral jazz. Over-ripe opera.

Nine

I'm with you on all those, I think. I'm a sucker for a fugue, in particular.

A capella fugue would be awesome.

Nine

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