Thursday, September 11, 2014

Why Musical Compositions Have Titles

After an evening of listening to cabaret music-making, most of the songs led into with stream-of-consciousness-type comments on recent news stories or events in the life of the singer/songwriter, the question arose in my mind as I contemplated preparing the printed program for the in-house recital I will play tomorrow...  why have a printed program?

Without the distraction of a printed program, the roomful of people listens for what is coming in a way that is overwhelmingly persuasive.  Nobody knows what is about to happen, sometimes not even the bass player who has an uncanny ability to read the singer's mind, even when she changes it at the last minute, or changes key.... So when the moody intro turns out to yield a hilarious song everyone is caught off-guard and the laughter is immediate and deep.

Deep in both senses: the moody intro gives an edge to the laughter indicating that nothing is probably as simple as it seems.

Probably the jazziest song of the evening was about death, yup.  What was hilarious about it? Everything, especially the simple fact that we were all together facing it, sooner or later, or now.

The printed program should be a gateway to participatory listening.  Maybe I'll scrap it and see what happens.  Part of the problem with it is that it presupposes too much on the part of the listener, not in the Muz App sense of knowledge, but simply in terms of whether you are about to hear a song or a dance or some kind of intellectual exercise  perhaps somber perhaps rollicking.  But the music may actually belie its title.  Maybe it's not the serious piece you ordinarily expect of a "fugue."  I have to think some more about this problem.