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CLASSICAL  November 2006

CLASSICAL November 2006

Subject:

Re: Classical Mystery Tour

From:

"Stephen E. Bacher" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Mon, 27 Nov 2006 16:53:47 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (48 lines)

Rick Mabry wrote:

>I'm privately polling people not on this list, too, people I know who
>are either classical musicians or listeners, and so far about 80% of
>the respondents name the ATC theme.
>
>I confess that my main motivation here was to test for that very thing.
>This might be an old story for some of you, but not to all, evidently.
>Please share your opinions.  Feel free to email me privately, if you'd
>prefer.

I'm not sure what you're asking for, but I, too, immediately thought of
the ATC theme.

>I believe it is either an enormous coincidence (the odds of which I
>couldn't begin to guess) or something I suspect happens a lot, which
>is that the author of the ATC theme had heard this quintet but paid no
>special attention to it, after which it resurfaced from his subconscious.
>Because it was not well-known, he did not recognize it and neither did
>the people whom he played it for, and he thought it was his own.

I rather prefer to think of it as coincidental, which happens often
enough.  After all, it's four groups of two notes selected triadically
on a basic I-IV-V-I progression, with isomorphic halves.  Not too many
variants possible on that.

Btw, the same melody (only slightly rhythmically different) occurs in
the middle of the Beatles' "I Will", circa 1968, which I am fairly sure
preceded the genesis of ATC.

>I once "discovered" a lovely melody that way.  Too bad it turned out
>to be Mozart.  Are there any famous instances of this sort of thing (or
>claims thereof)?

Yes: Busoni came up himself with (and was quite proud of) a particularly
worthy theme in his Faust studies, or so he thought - but it turned out
to be Greensleeves.  It's the only memorable tune in the work for me,
sadly.

I've always felt that Paul Simon arrived at "American Tune" that way.
I doubt he had firsthand experience with the Hassler "O Sacred Head Now
Wounded" melody (how much time did he spend in church?), and his tune
goes off in a different direction after the twice-repeated line.

And of course, speaking of Beatles, there is the famous George Harrison
"My Sweet Lord" case.

 - seb

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