Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Call It What You Will

I am in the middle of that one week out of the year when the orchestra and the summer band overlap with four assorted rehearsals and a concert all in one week. When I sat down to think through the schedule, I made a mental note of the dates and times of the orchestra rehearsals and then the band practice. I must have done that three times just to make sure I wouldn't forget anything, and each time I used the word "rehearsal" when thinking of the orchestra and the word "practice" when thinking of band. I wondered why that was, and I wondered why I would never switch the two. To me, orchestra practice and band rehearsal don't seem to be matched phrases. Maybe it depends on the groups. Maybe if the band weren't such a bang-splat-crash ensemble, it would feel more like a rehearsal and less like a practice. And maybe if the orchestra were to play in some filthy garage and tell jokes when the conductor sets down his baton, it would seem more like a practice and less like a rehearsal. This may sound illogical, but that's how I think of it all.

Funny how some words don't seem interchangeable even though they are. I belong to an orchestra that some people call a symphony, as in "I'm going to the symphony this evening." The real name of my orchestra is the Tuscarawas Philharmonic, and members often shorten it to The Phil. London has a Philharmonic Orchestra, but it also has a Symphony Orchestra. So, what's the difference? Absolutely nothing. They just chose those names to distinguish the two groups. We could call ourselves the Tuscarawas Symphony Orchestra and still be the exact same group playing the same music with the same number of people.

"Philharmonic" means lover of music, like "philanthropy" means lover of mankind, and it's nothing but a sentimental word for an orchestra. The orchestra was the space in front of the stage in ancient Greek theaters. It literally means "dancing space," and it was where the chorus stood so they could interact with the performers on stage. Now it means a large musical group performing things like symphonies. A symphony is a classical piece of music with at least three movements, but it's now also the group that performs it. The thing is, a symphony, like the one in London, can play a hoedown or a pop tune and still be a symphony. It can all be very confusing if you try to assign too much meaning to the words.

I think all these extra words are nothing but marketing, like people who use their middle names to make themselves sound bigger than they are, especially the types who turn their first names into an initial. Over the weekend, Daughter No. 1 and I helped sort donated canned goods at the food bank, and No. 1 found a can that read, "Very Small Young Early Baby Peas," or something equally redundant. "Baby peas" would have been sufficient, but it wouldn't sound distinctive. How lucky of the needy family who gets that can instead of the plain old can of baby peas. They'll appreciate it even more if they consider themselves philpeas, or maybe vegephiles.

Call it what you want—I am a proud member of the Tuscarawas Lovers of Music in the Dancing Space. This week I'll rehearse the Beethoven symphony and practice the Holst suite, or maybe I'll practice the symphony and rehearse the suite...nope, that just doesn't sound right. I'll keep my terms separated—just as long as I show up to the right group on the right day at the right time and play my horn with all I've got to give. I am a cornophile, or maybe I'm a philcorno.


dive said...

A "bang-splat-crash ensemble"? That sounds SO much fun, Robyn.

What a wonderful post this is. It had me grinning and giggling all the way through it.
I only wish I could be there to hear you play in the Tuscarawas Lovers of Music in the Dancing Space.
And also the band (filthy jokes included).

Shazza said...

LOL I love the way you write! Lot's of fun to read...and educational too!

Scout said...

Dive, it's the garage that's filthy, not the jokes. I suppose there are filthy jokes spread around, but I don't usually hear them from where I sit.

Shazza, thank you! I try to share what I learn with other people, but you never know when I'm making something up or when I am sharing facts. hee hee

Maria said...

Do you differ in dress with the groups? My partner often plays with the symphony and wears black and then plays with the orchestra and they wear evening attire.

I think black looks better.

Shan said...

You ARE super busy! At least you have time to educate fellow cornophiles along the way! I came over here expecting a swimsuit but whatever, no time for the important stuff huh? Well, I posted in minimicro on Lynns and Mme so that was pretty racy. Ok, then. You're busy tooting your other horn I get it. Enjoy! S.Coan(my middle name of course)

MmeBenaut said...

"Cornophile" I like that one. You are funny, Robyn. For a person who knows not very much about music (playing it, that is) I'm getting quite an education too. Fantastic.