Musical discourse

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Debating Vivaldi (and others), by Salut Salon:


  1. Stan Carey said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 5:17 am

    Marvellous. I saw a similarly playful exchange once, a kind of repartee conducted entirely through musical instruments, at a Bela Fleck and the Flecktones gig in Dublin. Less flamboyant than this example, though.

  2. turang said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 8:27 am

    Playful exchanges (without extensive acrobatics as here) are common in South Indian Classical (or Karnatak) music. Ravi Shankar popularized them in North Indian Classical (or Hindustani) music under the name of Sawal Jawab (challenge and answer).

  3. Chips Mackinolty said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 9:48 am

    It certainly works from an Australian perspective. The segue from Vivaldi to Weill/Brecht, from Summer to Mack the Knife. It is in summer that Australian beachgoers are statistically more likely to encounter sharks.

  4. rcalmy said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 10:32 am

    I to have seen similar displays in performance, and they're always fun. It also calls to mind Sid Caesar/Nannette Fabry "Argument to Beethoven's Fifth" routine or P.D.Q. Bach's Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments as variations on the theme.

    [(myl) Indeed:

    But Salut Salon actually plays the music, which makes it more interesting, in my opinion.]

  5. turang said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 11:20 am

    And these exchanges are improvised…

  6. Rubrick said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

    To cheapen the sublime experience of classical music with such exhibitionsistic, "see how impressive I am" gimmickry is… frickin' awesome!

  7. Piyush said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

    @turang: I am not sure the credit should go to Ravi Shankar for popularizing the idea of playful exchanges in Hindustani classical music. Folklore about this goes far as back as Tansen and Baiju Bawra, if not more, so it is unlikely some form of this was not common in reality. Further, "jawabi" (literally, "answering") Qawallis and other forms of North Indian folk and semi-classical music also date from before Ravi Shankar's time.

  8. peterv said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 5:07 pm

    Vivaldi's The Four Seasons is inherently dialectical, despite usually being rendered as twee and sentimental. I once saw a superb performance of it which intensified these argumentative elements through similar physical confrontations between the performers, led by Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto and an ensemble that included the Sacconi Quartet. This was certainly the best version I have ever heard of the piece, better even than Kuusisto's sharp-elbowed recording of it.

  9. a George said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

    @Rubrick: the virtuoso indeed very frequently made use of a huge variety of antics to provide a maximum total experience to the listeners – certainly Liszt and Gottschalk may be mentioned among the first trendsetters pianism. It is a tradition of its own.

    It was once claimed that the vibrato in classical music developed due to the lack of visuals in performance, if you could “only” experience it via a phonograph record. The paper in question toured Europe in 1996, and the author would not listen to critcisms of improper use of his sources; certainly no supervisors knew better, and the work provided a PhD. Fortunately, the author has gone on to other musical areas since.

    However, if you can enjoy Anna Russell, Victor Borge, Flanders & Swann, then you will also enjoy Igudesman & Joo, in particular “Rachmaninov had big hands”, which undoubtedly he had.

  10. turang said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 7:47 pm

    @Piyysh: What you say about this is quite possible. I was thinking in terms of the presence of this sort of interchange in the context of classical (maargi) instrumental music and was going by what Ravi Shankar says in his "My Music My Life" regarding being inspired by tala vadya cacheris of the South.

  11. Mark Mandel said,

    July 17, 2015 @ 10:14 pm

    @rcalmy: Nanette (just two "n"s) Fabray (two "a"s)

  12. David Morris said,

    July 18, 2015 @ 6:56 am

    The chords in “Rachmaninov had big hands” aren't all that big. The first chord he uses the wooden thingamy for is simply 1-3-5-8 in each hand. The next chord, which he actually plays, is just as big, being 1-3-5-8 in the right hand and 3-5-8-10 in the left, and all the chords he plays in that passage are either three- or four-note chords spanning an octave.

  13. CLThornett said,

    July 18, 2015 @ 8:58 am

    Let's not forget the Cats' Duet (often attributed to Rossini), as sung by many fine sopranos. I have heard this sung by bass/baritones as well which, when you think about it, is probably more appropriate.



  14. Brett said,

    July 18, 2015 @ 1:39 pm

    @a George: The practice of physically showy playing by piano virtuosi must be quite a bit older than Liszt, since Beethoven (in his youth, perhaps the greatest piano virtuoso of his own time) is recorded as being highly critical of it. Of course, he had his own games he played with the instrument too.

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