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Music & Humor PowerPoint Presentation

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  • Slide 1 - 26 1 HUMOR AND ICONICITY IN CLASSICAL MUSIC by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen
  • Slide 2 - 26 2 HISTORY OF HUMOR IN MUSIC In the 1600s, the Italians developed their “Opera Buffa,” leading the way to comic opera, which in France became the “Comedie Française” and in Germany the “Komische Oper.” Karl Haas says that in England it led to John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera,” (1728), and in the 1850s and 1860s to Offenbach’s satirical masterpieces.
  • Slide 3 - 26 3 In the 1870s through the 1890s this led to Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas which include: “The Gondoliers,” “H.M.S. Pinafore,” “Iolanthe,” “The Mikado,” “Patience,” “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Prince Ida,” “Ruddigore,” “The Sorcerer,” “Trial by Jury,” and “The Yeoman of the Guard.” (Nilsen & Nilsen 213)
  • Slide 4 - 26 4 A MUSICAL CIGARETTE HOLDER Phyllis Diller chose her signature prop of a cigarette in a long holder to portray a certain type of woman. But she soon found that she felt comfortable using it in much the same way that a conductor uses a baton: She could signal for attention, puncte the end of a joke, point at someone, express hostility, and control the audience in general. (Nilsen & Nilsen 215)
  • Slide 5 - 26 5 SHOOTING THE KEYS When Chico Marx played an arpeggio on the piano, he would play all of the notes but one, and then would point to that key with his index finger and using his thumb as a “trigger” he would “shoot the key.” Harpo Marx would also “shoot the keys,” but he was famous for playing glissandos (sliding music), and for getting his finger stuck between the keys. (Nilsen & Nilsen 215)
  • Slide 6 - 26 6 GETTING LOST IN THE MUSIC In the middle of one of Victor Borge’s piano concertos, the conductor lost his place in the musical score. Borge stood up from his piano bench, walked over to the conductor’s stand, pointed to the right place in the score, and then returned to his piano bench to finish the concerto.
  • Slide 7 - 26 7 One of Borge’s musical gags was to look befuddled as he examined a musical score and tried to play it. After some false starts and pondering, he realized that it is upside down, so he turned it over and played it masterfully. Another musical trick of Borge was to shift slyly from a piece of classical into a piece of popular music.
  • Slide 8 - 26 8 Borge also liked to play pop culture music pieces like “Happy Birthday to You” as it would have been composed by Bach or Brahms. He also engaged in much wordplay. For example, he said that a particular piece he was playing by Rachmaninoff was written in four flats. This was because the composer kept moving while he was working on it. Another piece was written by Bach, but he couldn’t remember whether it was Johann Sebastian, or Jacques Offen. (Nilsen & Nilsen 216-217)
  • Slide 9 - 26 9 MUSICAL PARODIES & SATIRES Tom Lehrer is a Harvard Professor who has written more than forty musical parodies and satires. He has written songs about poisoning pigeons in the park, hometown perverts, and charred bodies in a nuclear holocaust. But his most controversial piece is “The Vatican Rag” with its “bow your head with great respect and—genuflect! genuflect! genuflect!” (Nilsen & Nilsen 217)
  • Slide 10 - 26 10 Mark Russell also writes musical parodies and satires. During Reagan’s presidency, he took the tune of “My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean” and changed it to: “My ship of state’s practically grounded for want of a policy plan. I deny all the charges—unfounded— since the state of my ship hit the fan. Bring back. Bring back. Oh bring back my Teflon to me, to me….” (Nilsen & Nilsen 217)
  • Slide 11 - 26 11 P. D. Q. Bach is another composer who writes musical parodies and satires. He is purported to be the last of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 20-odd children. He was “discovered” by Peter Schickele, the first person to occupy the “General Electric Chair” at the University of Southern North Dakota at Huppel.
  • Slide 12 - 26 12 Peter Schickele keeps unearthing various P.D.Q. Bach “schleptetas” and “pervertimentos.” When people hear the music of Mozart or Beethoven they get an inferiority complex, so Schickele reasons that P.D.Q. Bach has a wider appeal than these other classical musicians because they feel they are capable of writing something just as good. (Nilsen & Nilsen 217)
  • Slide 13 - 26 13 Spike Jones and his City Slickers also did musical parodies. For example he did a parody with Humer and Jethro called “PAL-YAT-CHEE.” http://www.themadmusicarchive.com/song_details.aspx?SongID=8092
  • Slide 14 - 26 14 ICONICITY IN MUSIC Examples of composers making their music match the plot are the popping staccatos of Mozart’s “Popagano-Popagana” duet in “The Magic Flute,” the flourishes and strikes in Rossini’s “The Thieving Magpie,” the “bump de bump de bump de dadada” of Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite,” and the expressively cross-sensory sounds of “The Painted Desert” in Antonin Dvorak’s “New World Symphony.” Ogden Nash added words to Saint Saens’s iconic “Carnival of the Animals.”
  • Slide 15 - 26 15 IRONY IN MUSIC In Mozart’s “The Abduction from the Seraglio,” Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville,” and Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld,” dramatic irony comes into play as characters become victims of Tricksters and suffer from misidentifications and misunderstood events. An extra irony in relation to Offenbach’s “Orpheus” is that one of its musical sequences was so lively that it became famous throughout Paris and the world as “The Can Can.” (Nilsen & Nilsen 212)
  • Slide 16 - 26 16 HUMOR IN CLASSICAL MUSIC Humor in classical music has a long tradition as shown by such playful vocabulary items as the French “gavotte,” which like the Irish and English “gigue” or “jig” is music for a fast-moving dance.
  • Slide 17 - 26 17 A “scherzo” is a musical joke. A “cappricio” is a composition that is irregular in form and usually lively and whimsical. A “divertimento” is a light and entertaining instrumental composition. And a “rondo” is a composition whose principal theme is repeated three or more times in the same key, interspersed with subordinate themes. (Nilsen & Nilsen 211)
  • Slide 18 - 26 18 Here are some classical composers who are famous for their humorous musical compositions:
  • Slide 19 - 26 19 JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH In his Pulitzer-Prize-winning Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Douglas Hofstadter compares artist M. C. Escher’s fascination with visual loops in which a waterfall, for example appears to become its own source to Johann Sebastian Bach’s fascination with acoustic loops.
  • Slide 20 - 26 20 In his “Endlessly Rising Canon,” Bach seems to be drawing to a conclusion but instead slips out of the key of C-minor and into D-minor. This false “ending” ties smoothly into a new beginning where Bach repeats the process and returns in the key of E, only to start over again. Hofstadter says that “these successive modulations lead the ear to increasingly remote provinces on tonality, so that after several of them, one would expect to be hopelessly far away from the starting key. And yet, magically, after exactly six such modulations, the original key of C-minor has been restored?” (Nilsen & Nilsen 211-212)
  • Slide 21 - 26 21 LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Beethoven satirized local musicians in his “Pastoral Symphony” where he portrayed a sleepy village in which the musicians doze off, wake up, play a few notes, and then doze off again. BEETHOVEN’S PASTORAL SYMPHONY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM8RlCZP0KQ (Nilsen & Nilsen 211)
  • Slide 22 - 26 22 FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN Franz Joseph Haydn was distressed by the number of people who fell asleep while listening to his chamber pieces. So he wrote “Symphony Number 94” (The Surprise Symphony) in the key of C using a slow tempo and soft and repetitive sequences.
  • Slide 23 - 26 23 At the end of each stanza, he modulated the music to the key of G and ended with a resounding fortissimo chord guaranteed to wake up anyone who might be dozing. HAYDN’S SURPRISE SYMPHONY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDWh9F3Vig
  • Slide 24 - 26 24 Haydn’s “Farewell Symphony” is another example of Haydn’s humor. Haydn wanted to tell the audience that musicians were lonely for their wives and wanted to go home for the summer. As the symphony draws to its end, various musicians put out the lights on their music stands and depart from the stage. Haydn’s audiences were amused at the gradual diminishing of the performing force, but they also got his other message. This same technique of a diminishing number of performers was later used in “The Sound of Music” as the von Trapps left the stage and were smuggled out of the theater past the Nazi guards. HAYDN FAREWELL SYMPHONY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXY4DaF9d9Y&feature=related (Nilsen & Nilsen 211)
  • Slide 25 - 26 25 JOSEPH HAYDN’S MUSICAL JOKE: Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet Opus 33, Number 2 is called “The Joke.” This is because it has so many false endings: PRESTO MOVEMENT FROM JOSEPH HAYDN’S “THE JOKE” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDkWBzH6dkE
  • Slide 26 - 26 26 !WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART Mozart was a contemporary of Haydn, and his “The Village Musicians,” also known as “A Musical Joke,” burlesqued the nonprofessional playing that was done by amateur community bands of his day. (Nilsen & Nilsen 211)
  • Slide 27 - 26 27 CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS: In his “Carnival of the Animals,” Saint-Saëns parodies the “can can” melody from Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. The can-can is normally performed at breakneck tempo, but in the “Tortoises” parody it is played painfully slowly by low-register strings. TORTOISES: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHvqaRaDzQE
  • Slide 28 - 26 28 !!RICHARD WAGNER Even in the most serious operas, composers include light moments for comic relief. For example in his “Ring Cycle,” Richard Wagner has the young Siegfried turn the brown bear loose on Mime so that he and the audience can relish in the dwarf’s fright. And one of the funniest lines in all of opera is the dramatic irony when Siegfried slices open Brunnhilde’s breastplate with his armor-piercing sword, and exclaims, “Das ist kein Mann!” (“This is not a man?”). (Nilsen & Nilsen 211)
  • Slide 29 - 26 29 !!!HUMOR IN CLASSICAL MUSIC 1812 OVERTURE WITH CANNONS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-4SRvGUtn8&feature=related 3-YEAR-OLD JONATHAN CONDUCTING BEETHOVEN’S 5th SYMPHONY: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0REJ-lCGiKU “Ave Maria” by The Dentist: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCNHhrv_qzc&feature=related BLACK SWAN (FROM TCHAIKOWSKI’S SWAN LAKE BALLET): http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3985807385/ DANSE MACABRE BY CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcOZmtbLRP0&feature=related DOMINICK ARGENTO: “MISS MANNERS ON MUSIC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OThlAi9ovk
  • Slide 30 - 26 30 BACH’S ENDLESSLY RISING CANON: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsgdZFIdmeo BALLET TROCADERO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIQyZo1PeFA BOB AND RAY & PETER SCHICKELE: CLASSICAL MUSIC AS COMPETITION: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0vHpeUO5mw VICTOR BORGE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcV19rylSZc CLAUDE FRANK “HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEDLEY”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD8COH-7Bug “HOEDOWN” FROM AARON COPELAND’S RODEO: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3M9e-IdKfyA&feature=related
  • Slide 31 - 26 31 ANTONIN DVORAK’S “NEW WORLD SYMPHONY”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yctfXIqugXc IGOODESMAN AND JOO: http://cartoonando.blogspot.com/2008/04/1000-posts.html SCOT JOPLIN’S PEACHERINE RAG ON RECYCLED BOTTLES: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k26nt3Y4cmg LAUGHING SONG (JOHANN STRAUS’S “DIE FLEDERMAUS”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npLZNoRoH2M&NR=1 MARS: BRINGER OF WAR (from GUSTAV HOLST’S “THE PLANETS”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0bcRCCg01I MozArt Group: Polish Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLYgVbVRoqk&NR=1
  • Slide 32 - 26 32 PACHELBEL RANT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdxkVQy7QLM PAPAGANA/PAPAGENO (MOZART’S MAGIC FLUTE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87UE2GC5db0 PIANO JUGGLER # 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07brW206D84 PIANO JUGGLER # 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwgjw68TZWg ERIK SATIE: “AIR DU RAT” & “AIR DU POÉTE”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fil1SngtOY
  • Slide 33 - 26 33 PETER SCHICKELE (PDQ BACH): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mY0CFaracVE POLISH MUSICIANS PLAYING CLASSICAL MUSIC: http://www.mozartgroup.org/video.htm SILENT MONKS SINGING “HALLELULIA”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCFCeJTEzNU&feature=related “SLEIGHRIDE” BY LEROY ANDERSON: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OATi34PKNPw&feature=related SNOWFLAKES (FROM THE NUTCRACKER SUITE BY Tchaikowski): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBeUxXSNiFc SORCERER’S APPRENTICE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XChxLGnIwCU
  • Slide 34 - 26 34 SPIKE JONES & HIS CITY SLICKERS: http://www.ilike.com/artist/Spike+Jones+%26+His+City+Slickers?src=onebox THREE LITTLE MAIDS FROM SCHOOL (GILBERT & SULLIVAN): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXWkIZUPmDY “TYPEWRITER” BY LEROY ANDERSON: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/803796/the_typewriter_song/ AARON WILBURN (If My Nose Was Running Money”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egCeIwjIuZM WONDERFUL WORLD (SACHMO ARMSTRONG): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WlbQPmXg08
  • Slide 35 - 26 35 References: Ellis, Iain. “Resistance and Relief: The Wit and Woes of Early Twentieth Century Folk and Country Music.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 23.2 (2010): 161-178. Haas, Karl. Inside Music. New York, NY: Bantam, Doubleday, Dell, 1984. Horowitz, Susan. Queens of Comedy: Lucille Ball, Phyllis Diller, Carol Burnett, Joan Rivers, and the New Generation of Funny Women. New York, NY: Gordon and Breach, 1997. Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. Schrader, Valerie Lynn. “Wicked Witch or Reformer?: Character Transformations Through the Use of Humor in the Musical Wicked” Studies in American Humor New Series 3.23 (2011): 49-66. Secrest, Meryle. Stephen Sondheim: A Life. New York, NY: Knopf, 1988.

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