Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,

Zarzuela For Vuvuzelas

If you remember nothing else about South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup -- and I don't -- you remember all the journalistic interest in "the instrument from Hell," the vuvuzela. Even if the word vuvuzela meant something foul, it would still be fun to say. The instrument in question is so loud and cacaphonous as to cause permanent hearing damage and immediate physical pain at close range, and many vuvuzelas can only produce one pitch. So some might argue that the vuvuzela is kind of foul, even though in expert hands, such as the hands of these Berlin Philharmonic vuvuzelists, it can be used to make actual music. (The guy in that video is only a little bit disingenuous when he talks about the Philharmonic's vuvuzela section, as you can see in this concert clip.)

When my spouse, with his fairly deep knowledge of classical music and his tendency to reach into memory for words and come up with their least likely linguistic doppelgangers, tried to explain the history of the zarzuela, his brain swapped in the vuvuzela.

"Someone," I said, "really needs to compose a zarzuela for vuvuzelas."

"It won't be me," said Dan. "They Might Be Giants could probably pull it off."

And suddenly I knew the right person for the task. Andrew Huang has made quite delightful music using, for instance, one thousand pairs of jeans, a truly enormous sheet of paper, and, in this cover of the Breaking Bad theme, equipment that could be found in a meth lab. Anybody who can fit 26 genres, in alphabetical order, into a three-minute song, would surely be undaunted by the zarzuela. Alas, his current version of the song challenge seems part of his fundraising project on Subbable, with the very reasonable goal of allowing him to make a sustainable living. Hooray for sustainable livings! But this is not the year for me to throw five hundred dollars at commissioning a musical composition, not even a zarzeuela for vuvuzelas, not even from the endlessly watchable Andrew Huang.
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