At the end of the Simpsons movie, during the credits, did you pick up hints of Eric Copeland in the music? The interesting thing about that question, to me, is how rich it is. Music is a literature of references. It is a language and therefore rich in histories and background stories. It can be funny. At the end of the Simpsons movie, there were many jokes played out, while the credits roled. The usual ironic jokes of playing off one theme against an unsuspected juxtaposition. The usual rhythmic call-backs to a nearly forgotten out of place concept.

What’s the word for that again? A schism in the conversation, an out of place break. There is a word to connote that – what is that word that means wildly out of context remark? It’s a useful concept to put into a word, as it is useful to humor. You make a comment that doesn’t fit in with the conversation at all. Then later enough that you’ve forgotten the original silliness, make another out of place comment that is a call-back reminder to the first silly. Badabing setup, badababing rhythm. If you can get away with it you can stretch it out for a third, maximum fourth rhythm. There is no final punchline with this sort of humor though – this is just rhythm – silly rhythm – but not the end of the stanza. You’ll laugh because it doesn’t fit in, but you “get it” how it doesn’t fit in.

Music makes jokes the way the Simpsons makes jokes. It’s timing and rhythm, and themes, and juxtaposition and out of place sillyness. It’s remembering old stories, and playing them off of other old stories, and finding tension. Playing themes against each other in entertaining ways needs a Jews understanding of the entertainment industry. That is to say that interwebs of connections require a background steeped in enthusiasm for power and literacy to be able to see. Instead of Jew, I could say Old World European. Or Cuban poetry enthusiast. Or Brazilian music afficionado. Power=evolution, and literacy=knowledge of history. Music plays out the tensions of the times, fights it’s internal wars, and has capacity for humor. I can’t look up in wikipedia the answer to the question what is this song; “da da, da da da da da”. But the phrase is important and historical. All I can do is come up with the name Eric Copeland. But that isn’t the important information. You’ve got to hear the Fanfare to the Common Man, or Hoe-Down to understand his place in history, and if you want to get a kick out of the Simpson’s credits, a background in what came before will deepen what happens next. The notes will become a language that makes jokes.

I’m musically uneducated enough to be uncertain if I’m hearing themes of Copeland or Mussorgsky. To mistake an American 20th century composer for a Russian 19th centry one. Maybe I heard Emerson Lake and Palmer play some themes that the music of the credits of the Simpsons Movie repeated. That’s how music works, and that’s my point. It’s a dialogue of repeated ideas and the new ideas that have a history in them. Music makes statements, that live in historical contexts. Families and groupings and political aliances of similar thoughts. Jarring to learn how off-beat notes resonate with off-beat humor.

Advertisements