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CLASSICAL  April 2006

CLASSICAL April 2006

Subject:

A Familiar Theme Eludes

From:

Rick Mabry <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 29 Apr 2006 14:36:28 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (74 lines)

Listening to a certain obscure composition (which, if anyone is interested,
can be named in a later post, but right now I don't want to prejudice
any takers here), I heard something that struck me as very familiar.
I'm guessing/hoping it is from some relatively well-known or oft-used
bit of music, my hunch being something classical.  I have no idea of the
actual key, but it's a minor one, so assume A minor, all eighth notes,
in the ballpark of 60 (quarter) notes per second:

   A B C D E A E A E A ...,

where the last three A's are an octave above the first (I've marked these
as A'), all other notes within a single octave. So it is ascending for
the first six notes, then rocking forth and back on the E A'.

What seem like childhood memories want to fill it in further, but now I
fear I am guessing even more wildly, having it now descend back to the
initial A:

   A B C D E A' E A' E A' E D C B A.

A simple melody. I know it from somewhere.  I tried themefinders.org
with no luck.  What is this from?

On another note or theme (which I'll add because you seem to have too
much time on your hands at the moment, as do I), the other day I was
having a nice afternoon nap when I was suddenly awakened - not as usual,
by the fanatic down the street with his infernal, obnoxiously loud yard
machines - but by some gentle piano music.  It was playing in my head
only, as I dreamt, but its clarity jolted me awake.  And the tune was
extremely familiar.  Perhaps I had recently heard it, but ransacking
my memories of recent listens, I didn't think so.  This was something
I seemed to recognize from long ago.  I toyed with it as I lay there,
playing it over in my head so as not to lose it.  Finally I got up and
found my wife, who was working in her office.  Knowing she'd want to
drop everything to indulge me, I sang it aloud (and badly) to her to
see if she knew it.  She did not (want to indulge me) but at that point
I realized that the tune actually existed in my distant memory in a more
symphonic form, without piano. Too bad, because I liked the piano version
I seemed to have conjured, a softer, sweeter version.  Anyway, as it
crystallized during a second (and much improved) singing of it, I had
it.  A silhouette appeared before me --- it was Alfred Hitchock!  And
this had to be the theme from his TV show.  At that point the sound and
demeanor of it changed entirely as I recalled the slowly galumphing
passage most clearly.  I went to the internet and found it, and only
then learned that this theme was taken from Gounod's "Funeral March of
a Marionette".  I may once have heard of this theme, but I confess to
having had only faint familiarity with the composer's name.

Incidentally, there seemed to be no other Hitchcockian aspects to my little
dream, which I guess is good.

So now another question: does anyone here know of an arrangement for
piano of this theme?  Perhaps I heard one recently and didn't notice at
the time.  That could well be the case because a few months ago I had
another theme-dream, one so clear and compelling that it woke me up in
the middle of the night.  It was nice enough that I forced myself out
of bed, stumbled to my computer, fired up some old Cakewalk software,
and pecked out the tune.  I thought it was so lovely that I lingered
over it for some time before going back to sleep.  It was even still
with me when I awoke the next morning, too.  Surely, I fantasized, I
could develop this into something worthwhile.  But I forgot about it
completely during the day.  Then a few weeks later I heard it again --
- actually, a slight variation of it, but this time it was not playing
in my head, but on the radio!  And it was not nearly as good as mine (of
course) --- it was that gonif, Mozart!

Scooped again!

And speaking of thieves, the mockingbirds in our neighborhood are belting
out plenty of familiar musical themes, leading me to wonder who is
stealing from whom.

Rick Mabry
Shreveport

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