Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ding dong not-so-merrily.

To school this morning for the fourth and fifth grade holiday band concert, Secundus only visible when trooping on and off the stage, otherwise back in the fourth row behind a music stand with the other trumpeters. He says he spent much of the time retrieving dropped drumsticks for the percussionists in the row behind him.

But a small observation. I'd never noticed before that the little, insistent four-note phrase in "Carol of the Bells" uses exactly the same notes as the much-quoted, gloom-laden opening of the Dies Irae from the plainsong Latin Requiem Mass.*  I wonder if the (Ukrainian) composer was distantly related to Ebenezer Scrooge?

More to the point, why did it take a suburban elementary-school band concert to provoke this funereal revelation?

*Ha! In your face, Wikipedia. You didn't spot it, either.

You can get the same effect, incidentally -- same notes, different rhythm, when you compare the opening six-note phrases of "I'm In the Mood for Love" and "As Time Goes By." Also the first five notes of the main themes from Star Wars and ET - The Extra-Terrestrial. You'd think they were by the same composer, or something.

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