Special guest post by Optimist Prime
Kaye Mart, expert opinion-holder and full-time American, was known to have “giggled” in a rehearsal yesterday, when a fellow student mentioned that the tempo marking was “crotchet equals sixty-nine”. Faced with blank, weary stares from her chamber music group, she clarified, “you know … crotch! Sixty-nine! Sex bits! Heheheheheh.”
Mart was of the opinion that everyone should say ‘quarter note’ instead, like “the rest of the world”. When her colleagues politely pointed out that it is appropriate to use the vernacular of the place in which you’re working, Mart replied, “Ew, you guys have vernacular? How come you aren’t immunised for that? England is gross.”
“It wasn’t that we didn’t get the joke”, sighed cellist Ed Deadpan after the rehearsal, “it’s just that we’ve lived with these words all our lives. We’ve already encountered every dirty permutation of it. ‘Hold your crotchet for longer’, ‘You need to bang out that crotchet’, ‘you all should play around with your crotchets much more’ … conductors say these things all the time. Our crotchets are numb to it now.”
The tutor supervising the group, Tim Groan, also had an opinion, which he gave without being prompted. “Obviously the British terms are far better,” he opined, “because I’ve learned and grown up with them, and my personal experiences are more valid than anyone else’s. Besides, the terms are eccentric and lovable – just like me. The longest note means “short” in latin, and the shorter the quaver is, the longer its name is – they don’t match up to your expectations. Just like me.” He looked down, forlornly. More brightly, he added, “also, being able to say “hemidemisemiquaver” really quickly proves how good I am at music. Hey, would you like to go out for coffee sometime? I am very single.”
Mart insisted that ‘quarter note’ was the best term because it was a quarter of a ‘whole note’, which lasted a whole bar. “No, no,” interrupted Groan, “clearly a note that lasts a WHOLE bar should be called a SEMIbreve!” He was dutifully ignored.
When Mart was confronted with the fact that some pieces are written in time signatures other than 4/4, she said, “oh, you sound just like my teacher here, Mrs. Schnucklepants. So nitpicky!” She continued under her breath, “crotchet. Sixty-nine. Heheheheh.”
When approached for comment, Mrs. Schnucklepants simply glared and muttered, “Shnuckletrousers. My name is SchnuckleTROUSERS!”.