Overheard at a Music Festival

by Marty Laster



The bluegrass and classical worlds are pretty far apart in lots of ways. Here's a look at what may happen when these worlds collide. This was a (possibly fictitious) conversation between a bluegrass band and a string quartet at the "Aspen cultural exchange week." This conversation was between the fiddler (F) and 1st violinist. (V).

V - Well, are we ready for the downbeat?
F - I don't know about that, but let's kick it off.
V - ...Kick what off? Is something in the way?
F - No, but let's just rip into that old "Boil em Cabbages down"
V - Do I understand correctly that your wanting to rip into cooked vegetables implies that you would like to have a bite before we commence playing?
F - Well-I'm not keen on vegetables, but later we could try the trout that we caught in...
V - Wonderful! (interrupting with excitement) We'd love to play the "Trout Quintet" and as soon as we get the music we'll, as you might say, "dig into' it. (nervous laughter from quartet)
F - (A long silence) . . . Well, we don't know that one and it sounds fishy to me anyway (laughter and knee-slaps), but just give us the key and we'll back you up. I'll give you a set of potatoes to start.
V - No, thank you, too much starch Oh, by the way, you forgot your music stands.
F - No-we always stand when we play music.

This dysfunctional conversation went on for quite awhile and needless to say, the two ensembles never got to play anything together.

Excerpts from the Classical/Bluegrass dictionary:
CLASSICAL   BLUEGRASS
DownbeatKickoff
ViolinFiddle
AllegroFast
Vivachi Rip into it
Key of Eb You're kidding! - No such thing.
ModulationGo to tune in different key
Cross strings quicklyShuffle
Fifth positionYou're kidding! - No such thing.
You're kidding! - No such thing.The Banjo


Unfortunately some of the conversations during this Cultural Exchange week didn't even get this far. Here's one between a bebop alto sax player (S) and an old timey fiddler (F).

F - How ya doin'?
S - Hey what's up?
F - - - - -(began rosining bow)
S - - - - -(started cleaning horn)
F - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
I left after 10 minutes of silence.


Of course, these days, there's more overlapping of musicians playing in different styles or at least being educated in them. Still, I had fun playing around with these stereotypes. Hope you enjoyed the comic relief.

           Marty Laster





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