what college is good for

November 14, 2006

To continue to prove that I have learned something at college, I’m gonna include another list. This should be funny, if not simply bizarre.

 Things I’ve learned in my education…

1. The Pipe organ can be easily identified as containing any of these commonplace sets of pipes: Great, Swell, Choir, Solo, Orchestral, Echo, Antiphonal , Hauptwerk, Rückpositiv, Oberwerk, Brustwerk, Schwellwerk, Grand Choeur, Grand Orgue, Récit, Positif, Bombarde, Hoofdwerk, Rugwerk, Bovenwerk, Borstwerk, Zwelwerk 

2. Beethoven went deaf for a number of speculated reasons: either typhus, lead poisoning, syphillis, or that he would emerse he head in cold water to stay awake. 

3. Franz Schubert set music to Goethe’s “Der Erlkonig.” It was a piece for solo voice and piano. Some of its best recordings are by women who sing all three voices in the orginial poem at once. These voices are two men and a child.

4. There are at least 48 different ways to write any melody and still identify it. This does not include the endless number of agrigate forms.

5. During the 20th century, there were several movements of truly unusual music making. John Cage wrote the piece “4:33” where he sat at a piano for 4 minutes and 33 seconds, in silence. Dick Higgins wrote Danger Music No. 2 (or 17) where you scream as loud as possible till you lose your voice, and Danger Music No. 28 where you are instructed to “Not smile for some days.” There is also rumor of a piece where you roll your hand around in a bucket of broken glass.

6. There is a flute that plays one octave below the lowest pitch on a piano, well out of human hearing range.

7. Philip Glass, once famous for such wonderful selections of music as the opera “Einstein on the Beach,” has now resorted to horror film scores.

8. Opera used to be much like football, in that people would flock to a performance to actually root on their favorite singer. And it was likely, for a time, that it could be have a castrato.

9. There are a number of musical palindromes. Most notably are an opera by Berg, another by Webern, both with contain large palindromes. There is a duet by Mozart and other by Ronald Binge that can be laid on a table, and performed by reading from opposite ends. Also, Ronald Binge wrote a piece of music that sounds the same regardless of which direction you read it, including reversed in a mirror.

10. Many people have claimed to own the saxophone of the late Charlie Parker, the jazz innovator in the 1940s. However, Parker routinely sold his instrument for drugs, so he could have owned any number of saxes, and only played on any of them once. Jokes on them, I guess.

Granted, this isn’t all I’ve every learned, but its a good snipet of the fun stuff. Well, fun-er stuff.


  1. Do you know that Rammstein did a reworking of “Der Erlkoenig”?

    And also, we’re halfway through November! Woo!

  2. “6. There is a flute that plays one octave below the lowest pitch on a piano, well out of human hearing range.”

    Maybe we should get Punkin’ Pie one of THOSE flutes!

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