Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Carl Orff is Rolling in His Grave

I've always been fascinated by how we perceive lyrics versus the actual lyrics a singer is singing. English is a notoriously hard language to set to our traditional structures of melody and harmony, and the language isn't served much better by the people who sing it. Thus we get instances where the sound of the words a group is singing is so far removed from the actual words that we get humorous disconnects.

Some singers have embraced this ambiguity - Seal has long refused to put his lyrics inside his albums because he likes the fact that each listener hears a different song. According to his philosophy, if you like a song that says one thing to you and you discover that the songwriter intended another meaning, your personal meaning should be valid. Because of his stance, if you peruse lyrics websites you get all sorts of different attempts at his lyrics, from "I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the grave" to "I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the grey," two vastly different meanings of the chorus of that song.

But what of foreign languages? I've never considered how we as English speakers might understand, say, old Latin through our language filter. With this background, you can understand why I found this music video for Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, one of the most recognized pieces of music from the past one hundred years from movies and television use alone, hilarious and thought provoking. Well, maybe more hilarious than anything else. Once you follow the link, be sure to reload the page so everything syncs up perfectly.

3 comments:

Amy Q said...

Memories of drunken college students blaring this from dorm speakers and yelling "Oh! For tuna with cheese and mayo..."

...Thanks. Hadn't thought about that in a while.

alicia said...

ow ow ow, my side. where do you find these things? seriously, is there a site I should know about? Some juicy Google keywords? What?

Andrew said...

Actually, we musicologists share these little videos and tips to use in class. Nothing like a few refrains of "Oh, for Tuna!" to get their attention late in the afternoon.