Two Minutes!!

So, you say you don’t know a damned thing about music. Can’t carry a tune in a bucket across the back yard. A cloth-eared beet, as John Cleese would say.

Oh, everyone knows what they like, and most kind of have an idea as to why they like it; all well and good. But very few will admit to any actual formal training or schooling, and certainly not without an accompanying saga as to why none of it worked, and hence, we’re pretty much back to the ” tune in a bucket’ ‘ scenario.

But I’ll change that for you, if you can spare me two minutes of your life.  Starting now.

Do you know what a ” hook ” is? This is a widely-used word that is used to describe the particular part of a song that will force your brain to commit a small number of cells to its memory, very often against your will. It would be nice if we actually wanted to preserve all the little bits that we must ultimately keep in storage, but no… you will simply end up retaining very large amounts of useless data. Not recall, necessarily. Not until 3 am some morning, when the ” disco hits of the 70’s ” start playing back in your head, entirely uninvited. Or ” Wichita Lineman“… ” Rhinestone Cowboy?” Or maybe something you like, which is a little bit better…but still uninvited. ” Stairway to Heaven“…” Whole Lotta Love“…” 867-5309″… anything, really. The point is not what it is but that you can’t control it. That’s what a hook is. It’s in there, and it’s not ever leaving.

Ok, then. So you might not know much about music, but you’re still a walking Hook Storage Facility like everyone else.

I’ll wager, then, that you might not know who Guido of Arrizi was. I ‘ll double down and wager that you couldn’t possibly care any less, even if you did. I’ll see that bet, and raise you that you also don’t know what solfege is.

Guido of Arrizi came up with the concept of solfege in the eleventh century. It is a system of music designed for singers; it allows them to work not only with one another, but also to use their voices as instruments; it assigns syllables to particular musical tones, and hence becomes a very practical and useful language. Guitarists pluck strings, pianists play keys, clarinetists force wind through a reed, and singers sing a syllable attached to a note. May not seem like much to you, but if you’re in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, you are a very happy camper. Those days of making those embarrassing indiscriminate noises are finally over. ( I’ m a relatively happy camper, but alas; neither Mormon, tabernacled, nor choired. A good guitar player, but a voice like a cat in a garbage disposal… )

So freaking what, you say? The two minutes is almost up, is that all you’ve got?

Nope. Watch… now I’ll do a magic trick.

I’m going to say three words, and you’re going to sing a song. You may not want to… doesn’t matter. Sing it now, or later, or wait until 3 am when it starts up by itself.  Not my problem. I’ve been singing it for two days now, and I want to try to pass this on. You have to do it, so just resign yourself to it. Just hope to God that it stops…someday.

Ready?? Ok, here we go….






Doe, a deer…

Don’t fight it. Just walk towards the light. You haven’t sung it since you were three or four, I know. How could you have learned so much of it? All of it? And why do you have to keep repeating it? When will it stop??

I can’t help you with that. I don’t know. Again, not my problem. But it seems that you might have been fibbing a bit when you said you don’t know a damned thing about music.

 Turns out that you know all about solfege; and you know how to sing a major scale. You might have learned against your will, but still…And, ( I love this part)… you’ve known for decades.

Because that is such a great hook that it is absorbed immediately and permanently. See? You’ve been carrying that tune around in a bucket forever.

Pretty cool, huh? Makes you want to head down to sign up in the local Baptist church choir, doesn’t it? Well, at least you’ll know what they’re up to in there when you drive by…

For now, just let it run its course for a while, it’ll calm down after a few hours…

So let’s say a special” thanks” to Rogers and Hammerstein. And Julie Andrews!!

And  a big shout-out to Guido Arrizi, who started it all.

Please, God…let it stop soon…I’m so tired…please….

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well, I finally broke down and had to look it up. ” La, a note to follow sol” . Maybe now that it’s complete it’ll ease up a little.

  2. ok, I can accept that ‘splanation about the advances in choral technique…but I heard…that Gregorian Chant was composed not just to help them Monks get closer to God but that the breathing rythmn required to sing them ‘tunes’ altered their damn brain chemistry…CO2 deficit and such.
    What the hell?

  3. Sounds like an endurban myth…

  4. Here’s a “hook” story. Way back in the day–early 60’s to mid 70’s, there were songwriters who worked for music companies. Their job was to write songs for contracted singers. Carole King was one such songwriter. Mac Davis another. Davis tells of a time he brought a song to his boss about a guy who doesn’t want his girlfriend to get so serious about their relationship. Boss didn’t like the song. Said it had no “hook”. Told him to go back and add a hook. Davis, a bit miffed at his boss’ criticism, decided to be a bit of a wise-ass. The “hook” he wrote was “Baby, Baby don’t get hooked on me..” repeated a few times. Boss didn’t “get” the wiseassedness of it. Thought it was great. Became a big hit for Mac Davis, as a writer and a singer.

  5. (I’ll contribute to ‘hook stories, though I suspect I have only a variation of the original story) (…am sure the roger can validate it).

    Jeff Beck was in the studio with Stevie Wonder (who was at the height of his hit making) and someone (not certain if it was Beck or Wonder) came up with the ‘hook’ to the song, ‘Superstion’.
    Instantly recognising the monster hook, Stevie had everyone (including Jeff) escorted from the studio and the doors were locked. The rest, as they say, is history.

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