Yearly Archives: 2009


Americans used to have the most marvelous way of saying the word “orchestra”, somewhere in between “awchestra” and “ohchestra”.  It had a vaguely patrician ring to it and yet it was entirely of the people.  I don’t think it was a regional pronunciation, although New Yorkers and Bostonites certainly pronounced that way, as did everyone in the movies.

Now it’s time for a reader vote.  I’ve amassed a small collection of 20th and 21st century personalities, all Americans, saying “orchestra”.  Included are some notable hangers-on to the old tradition.  Whose version of the word “orchestra” do you like the best?  Leave your vote in the comments section!

Aaron Copland

Perhaps the finest representative version of the old-style way of saying “orchestra”.  Quite pleasant and mellifluous.

Frank Sinatra

Surprisingly, this is a pretty modern rendition, although I’m quite sure that if I did a little more digging, I would find Frank saying “orchestra” with more of the original flavor to it.

Nelson Riddle

Again, somewhere in the middle, but closer to the modern way.

Loren Maazel

A very classic, very patrician reading, for a very classic, very patrician sort of man. [His “Nawth Korean” ain’t bad either.]

Elmer Bernstein

Elmer “No Relation” Bernstein falls slightly on the classic side of the dividing line.

Charlie Rose

For me, Charlie has about the best rendition of “orchestra” of anyone under 70.  An interview between him and Loren Maazel is a match made in heaven and a symphony of syllables when it comes to this word.


Lenny’s version is definitely in the classic category, though there are plenty of examples of him saying “orchestra” that have a more modern twist.  This particular version leans heavily on the “ohchestra” side of things and has a vaguely British quality to it.

Larry David

Larry David’s version is a fascinating one — his “awk” is very purely classic, and he really breaks up the rest of the syllables.

I really think that a revolution is afoot and that we can get the word “orchestra” back to being pronounced the way it ought to be. It is our American birthright.

So, please do leave a comment about who says “orchestra” your favorite way, and which way might work best for you!

Tovey conducts rare “The Warriors” at the Hollywood Bowl

Bumping into that headline recently, I had to wonder: should Bramwell Tovey really be challenging David Patrick Kelly’s legendary interpretation of “The Warriors”?  I mean, come on – it’s iconic:

But perhaps I’m not a qualified judge — I mean I thought I knew that piece, but I didn’t even realize it was by Percy Grainger! I think Mark Swed really brings some interesting things to light in his article:

“The Warriors” was Grainger’s largest score, both in length and size of forces.

Haven’t we all aspired to writing for such magisterial forces as three beer bottles and a high tenor? [Editor’s note: nah…]

Completed in 1916, “The Warriors” has passages as rhythmically bold as Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” which premiered three years earlier.

To wit:

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Mwa ha ha ha… I kill me.

But seriously, you can get a recording of the actual piece here.  It’s definitely a capital c C-razy piece of music if ever there was one.  More from Swed:

“The Warriors” divides devout Graingerites. Some find it an embarrassment. Others consider it his greatest masterpiece.

OK, I don’t know what to say about all that, except that “devout Graingerites” find “The Warriors” an embarrassment?? Isn’t it embarrassing enough that their idol was a crazy Australian S&M freak who kept categorical records of the whips that he used to flagellate himself? Not to mention an Aryan supremacist?  Nope, it’s THIS that embarrasses them:
All I’m saying is, Priorities, people.

From chimpan-A to chimpan-Z


In hard-hitting news that I am 100% not making up, the Canadian National Post reports on a story about a U.S. “scientist” from UW-Madison who has been conducting research on what kind of music monkeys are into. From the article:

Two university professors in the United States sought to find out whether monkeys would appreciate 30-second clips of music specially created for them more than popular music created for human listeners. Previous studies have found that monkeys prefer silence to any human music with a tempo, including German techno songs and Russian lullabies.

Frankly I think most sentient species prefer silence to German techno songs and Russian lullabies, but this gets better:

The human versions of songs used in the experiment included 30-second clips from Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Metallica’s Of Wolf and Man and Tool’s The Grudge. Researchers studied their responses for five minutes after each song played.

While Metallica and Tool were used as examples of music humans find arousing, the monkeys found the crunchy guitar chords calming. Eating, grooming, and engaging were indications the monkeys were relaxed.

Fair enough.  In fact, the monkey at the top of this post looks like he might have spent the better part of the 80’s rocking out to Metallica, maybe a little too hard — if you know what I mean.  The article goes on to explain, however, that the putative UW-M “researcher” collaborated with his friend David Teie, a cellist in the National Symphony Orchestra, to create music specifically designed for the monkeys’ enjoyment.  Here is the first clip:
which I believe was meant to inspire some sort of simian George Crumb-Merce Cunningham collaboration.

OK, there’s no way to prepare you the second piece of music for the monkeys:
And again, I am totally not making any of this up.  About the monkey music, the article goes on to say:

When the primates heard the monkey versions of both songs, on the other hand, they reacted as the researchers predicted they would. The monkeys urinated, shook their heads and stretched, indicating an increased state of arousal.

Funny, I did the exact same thing after hearing that last clip.

In the name of science, I would like to suggest a slightly different program for the monkeys, one sure to gain their undivided attention:

smiling monkey

Learn Conversational Italian through Rossini!

In Just a Few Easy Lessons!

LESSON 1 – Repeat after me:

Chi è costei?
Who is she?

È mia nipote.
She is my niece.

Di qual paese?
What country are you from?

Di Livorno ambedue.
We are both from Livorno.

Ah! non so dal piacer dove io mi sia. D’un’Italiana appunto ha gran voglia il Bey. Sarete la stella, lo splendor del suo serraglio.
Ah! My joy has quite unmanned me. The Bey longs for an Italian woman to be his favorite, and thou wilt be the star and splendor of his Seraglio.

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