Mozart’s ‘lyrics’

8th April 2013 | Daily Life, Musings, Teaching | 1 comment

I’ve been leaping boldly into the world of new media by uploading an audio file to one of the new online music distributors which helps artists to get their music directly to new audiences. (Details to follow when I’ve got to the end of the process).

It’s instrumental music by Mozart and I was very amused to be asked to declare whether the lyrics were ‘explicit’ or ‘clean’. Everything now is classified as a ‘song’. There was no option for ‘no lyrics’, and it was impossible to advance to the next step in the process without divulging what sort of lyrics Mozart had written for each track. So I had to go through, identifying each track as ‘clean’.

Mozart didn’t write any lyrics for his instrumental music, of course, but as I laboriously ticked boxes I amused myself by wondering what lyrics he might have added had the thought occurred to him. He was famous for his naughty sense of humour and for his occasional references to bodily functions.  I must admit that in lessons and coaching sessions, students and I sometimes try to fit words to his music, or to particular phrases in the music. It’s often very illuminating to try to be a little more specific about the mood or ‘story’ that music is telling us; it gives new ideas about timing and tone colour. And of course the words that people instinctively put to music are often concerned with love, longing, regret and all the rest of it. So if we’re talking about imaginary lyrics for Mozart’s music, it’s not all that obvious which box we’d have to tick.

1 Comment

  1. Trevor M

    This made me chuckle. I’ve long since ceased to be surprised by how ‘song’ has been become the generic name for a piece of music regardless of whether there is any ‘singing’, but it still does provide some weirdly incongruous results.

    Conversely, when pop musician Tori Amos announced that she was doing a ‘song cycle’ for Deutsche Grammophon a couple of years ago, it took an extraordinary amount of effort to persuade some other fans that there would definitely be singing in it, because somehow they believed that all classical music tended to be instrumental.


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