Trumpets, Happy Clappys and Lumpy Grumpys

Last night J and I headed out to the Seattle Symphony to see the Canadian Brass. I've seen then once before and they were just as good this time. Some good christmas songs to get me in the mood and they are very funny when they speak between numbers. Heck they even managed to find a reason to do a square dance while playing which was particularly interesting for the guy with the trombone - they must practise this a lot. All the musicians are good but one of the trumpeters Joe Bergstaller was amazing. I swear in one piece he played for 2 minutes without taking a breath and his fingers were moving very fast. Of course since I am a scientist type instead of an arty music lover type I have to use the concert as a reason to learn something. The trumpeters had 5 different trumpets in front of them - in one piece Manon LaFrance was actually switching during the song. I also noticed that the piccolo trumpet had 4 valves rather than the normal 3 so this means learning a  totally different system for the notes and they have to remember which trumpet they are playing. The really interesting thing that I just found out is that there is essentially no range difference between the trumpets which is what I assumed the main difference would be. So that's today's "Something you didn't know" from the ZMan.

"We don't care about that ZMan", I hear you all yell, "what are these Happy Clappy folk that you tantalized us with in the title". Well Happy Clappy is the name I gave to some theater goer types many years ago. You know those folk who are the first to clap (often before they are supposed to), the last to stop clapping and (worst of all) the ones who feel that every single performance needs a standing ovation and that it is their personal responsibility to start it. Personally I blame the ever rising ticket prices at live events. When you pay $100 for a couple of hours some people feel an obligation to be able to tell all their friends that it was the most amazing thing they have seen since those stupid pet tricks on Letterman last night. But how could it be amazing unless they can describe the standing ovation that happened. "Yes I know it was just the afternoon dress rehearsal performance and 3 of the cast threw up due to food poisoning but we all loved it so much that there was an instant ovation". My personal favourite moments at the theater are when 1 or 2 of the Happy Clappys start a standing ovation and nobody else joins in. Its especially funny when the Happy Clappy's spouse looks up at them with the "sit down dear" look.

Last night at the symphony I learned about the Happy Clappy's evil cousin - the Lumpy Grumpy. Firstly you need to know that the Canadian Brass is a very different kind of concert. I know that at a proper symphony you are expected to sit very quietly and only clap at the correct moments. But last night was much more interactive. The ensemble told jokes and made the audience laugh, they encouraged some cheering out on some numbers, singing on others and we even clapped along to Frosty the Snowman. But for some reason the trailer trash sitting behind us decided that the couple on the end of our row was being a little too boisterous. Oddly enough nobody in our row noticed such a problem but at the interval the Lumpy family called over an usher and complained. You would have thought that this poor couple had ripped their seats out and set fire to them given the vitriol with which they complained. Mr Lumpy kept yelling "just move them" while his wife pissed and moaned about how her night was being ruined. When the couple returned the ushers had a quiet word and they immediately tried to apologise for these supposed offences. But that wasn't good enough and Mr Grumpy repeated his request. Eventually they did move them - I hope to some much better seats. Of course then we had to listen to the Lumpy family crow about their victory - at one point we heard the words "They must be Canadians"!! I wish I had the balls to say something to them at the end of the performance but I don't want to bump into them next time we go. Instead I will blog anonymously and mock them with a new title... Lumpy Grumpys welcome to ZMan's theater stereotype list.

Published 19 December 2007 09:54 AM by zman


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