How’s Your Sightreading? Release the Penguins!

Couldn’t resist this one.

There’s a long tradition of in-jokes in music. UK readers might be familiar with Mozart’s Ein musikalischer Spaß, a pastiche of bad composition designed to make a good ensemble sound like amateurs, from its use as the theme for the Horse of the Year Show. Satie was famous for directions such as “Like a nightingale with toothache” and his Vexations, though possibly not humorous in intent, contain a suggestion that the music be repeated 840 times. (This piece was first performed by a relay team in 1971 and lasted 18 hours, after which some wag shouted “encore”.) Fats Waller would put in indications such as “tempo di’sturb de neighbours”. Some people have gone berserk and made fun of the whole notion of musical notation and performance.

What you’re looking at here is John Stump’s Faerie’s Aire & Death Waltz. I regret this is the highest-resolution image I can find, but it’s worth a bit of squinting to discern the master’s intentions. Note in particular the switch to 6/1 time at letter H to be played Rigatoni and the mezzissississississimo marking for the bass Ab after the tumultuous crescendo has brought the section to a close (or not, as you fancy). The heroic entry of the bicycle (accompanied by Lakers) at letter N must be firm, but should not overshadow the surplus violins packing up and going home.

Click for more if you want to see a video of this remarkable work actually being performed

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Posted in e) Rants & Ramblings
2 comments on “How’s Your Sightreading? Release the Penguins!
  1. Stephen Tanner says:

    Can the band perform Fairie’s Aire and death walz at the the jam session. No need to release the penguins. leave the bicycle and give the cattle a miss

    • Jason says:

      Good Lord, that would actually mean… rehearsing!
      There have been one or two players over the years who have, intentionally or otherwise, quoted from it though… Glad you enjoyed the session – see you again.

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