Classical Note

I love music, but I’m not particularly musical.

I can play the piano but I’m somewhat restricted by my repertoire. I have zero gift for improvisation and I’m unable to play sheet music at first sight unless the tempo is glaciale (yes, I made that up) – and even then, I can make no promises. My preferred audience is my cat, but unfortunately he hates me playing and will either meow at me, make a point of leaving the room, adjust his sleep position to ensure he’s on his ears or jump up onto the keys/hands/lap/anything-that-might-make-me-stop. My personal favourite is when he plonks himself on the low notes and just stares at me.

I’m also pitch imperfect which, on a positive note, allows me to play my old and un-tuneable piano. Miraculously, my husband who’s has perfect pitch has not yet divorced me.

I love music though and I rarely do anything at home without a soundtrack.

Although musically inept, I’m ridiculously pedantic about certain musical etiquettes. This IS entirely MY problem but I wish to enlighten anyone willing to listen so we can share the same, inane first-world-problem. And then we can be frustrated together – yay!

Rhythmic displacement – otherwise known as clapping on the wrong beat. Its disjointed effect and its seamless correction is shown in the clip below by the skillz of Harry Connick Jr.

Also, I have an issue with applause.

I promise, I’m not anti-clapping per se.  How can clapping even be wrong?

Well, since I asked myself on your behalf – it can be wrong at classical music concerts.  I struggle when people clap between musical movements. Which is, essentially, before a piece has finished.

The last concert I attended accentuated this issue – The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs by Henryk Górecki.

If you are unfamiliar with this work, it is as it sounds – profoundly slow, expressive and mournful – the words taken from the walls of a Gestapo prison. The first time I heard it in my teens, it froze me in my tracks. It is exquisitely beautiful and emotive.

The silence is part of it. More than any other piece, it deserves the silence.

*Awkward silence*

So, any thing small but musically significant frustrate you? I will not accept answers which include folk who are, allegedly, musicians.

Meanwhile, I’ll be on a musical bridge getting over it.


7 thoughts on “Classical Note

  1. I’m also not particularly musical… at all.
    it’s true that I can read music and play the piano some, at once point I could even play the clairinet, but I’m sort of missing a sense of rhythm and I can’t ever tell if I’m singing the right note (in general I’m not partially because I think I have about a 5 note range)

    But. I can tell you that you can TOTALLY do clapping wrong. Because some of us (points at self) can’t clap on any beat, 1/3 2/4 for very long without just -missing.

    My other musical pet peeve is that some of those talented people who can actually clap along to a beat and sing along to a tune can’t/won’t understand that some of us just don’t hear it like they do. Trust me. I don’t MISS the beat on purpose!!! Nobody wants to be the lone clapper. Nobody. 😦

    • As I said, it is entirely my problem. My husband has perfect pitch and it must drive him mad when I sing or play my off-tune piano. Because I can’t hear the difference, I don’t notice and I suspect clapping on the wrong beat is the same. I’m sorry if you felt this was a personal attack. Just because it frustrates me does not mean I think people do it on purpose or that I think less those who do, just like my husband does not chastise or think less of me for my non-musical ear.

      When I wrote this, I thought I was light-heartedly mocking my own pedantry rather than insulting others. This is not what I want this blog to be. I will delete the post once you’ve read this response.

      Humblest apologies. K.

      • Oh no no no!!!
        I didn’t think it was an attack at all and I can see now why you might have thought that I might have felt that way but no no, it was light hearted and fun and don’t delete it!!!

        I also wasn’t trying to say that I thought you were one of the people who would be confused that I can’t clap right. I was actually thinking quite the opposite that a fellow person who can’t hear if they are in tune can probably totally sympathize with me lack of rhythm as well and has run into other people (clearly not your saintly husband) who are confused with their lack of musicality. I had a different instance in my mind about the clapping when I commented and it came through all wrong!

        I tell you what you should delete all these and leave your nice post as is!

        Sorry sorry sorry!!!!

      • Haha! This is hilarious. And what a relief! Clearly my greatest fear in the blogosphere is inadvertently upsetting people and I’m so glad that wasn’t the case – sometimes it is so difficult to hear the tone of voice in the written word. Please don’t let this put you off leaving comments on my blog, I’m always grateful for feedback in whatever form that takes. 😀

  2. Oh my goodness, I had no idea there was a name for when someone has a hard time getting the clap right! I mean the clapping. I think “getting the clap” is … naughty somehow?

    Harry is such a professional! He carried that audience right along and they didn’t even know it! I wouldn’t have known it if I hadn’t seen the video! That was kind of awesome actually, and now I’ll always be trying to remember to clap on 2&4. 🙂

    Because I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

  3. The best place for me to carry a tune is in the vacuum of space! For some reason though, I can hold a beat so I loved how Harry handled it – as you say, the audience didn’t even know.

    Also, you’re right, I think ‘the clap’ is something untoward and I don’t think I’ll be Googling it 🙂

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