Guess That Tune!

I have recent upgraded my wheels from “classic” (20th century corolla, slightly used) to “contemporary” (21st century corolla, also slightly used). Possibly the last straw was when I found the article Toyota Recalls 1993 Camry Due To Fact That Owners Really Should Have Bought Something New By Now, and then noticed that the article was already more than three years old. Perhaps the biggest difference is that the car is not in imminent danger of catastrophic collapse. But a close second is that I can now play music through my iPhone as I drive to work. Currently they are on random shuffle, which means that I get to play “guess that tune” for my current collection (5000 songs or so). The rules of the game are a little vague. How close does the answer need to be? Suppose it’s a Bach French suite. Do I have to name the suite? Do I have to name the pianist? Do I have to remember if the movement is an bourrée or a gigue? Schubert Lieder — Do I have to distinguish my Schwanengesangs from my Die schöne Müllerins? Do I have to know the key of a Prelude and Fugue (Bach or Shostakovich)? The number of a Goldberg variation? (and whether it is Gould in ’55 or Gould in ’81).

I don’t think I have complete answers to these questions; some of it depends a little bit on how familiar I am with the actual music. For example, “ah, that must be one of those crappy Vivaldi flute concertos played by Rampal that I downloaded from Jacob once” is a perfectly satisfactory answer. So is “The Gigue from the second English suite — and it must be Perahia, because he plays this one phrase with a definite whoops-sie-doo lilt.”

Some observations so far. I’m barely scoring above random on St Matthew passion versus the St John Passion (especially on random 25 second recitatives). It’s not easy to distinguish early Beethoven (piano) from late Mozart. This is especially true when your Beethoven collection is complete enough to have all of the crappy Beethoven. I do much better on piano music than chamber music. Sometimes it’s much easier to guess after listening for 30 seconds rather than 5 seconds. Unfortunately, I am not technically competent enough to cut out snippets from audio files in order to let you play this game, but, then again, you will probably have more fun anyway doing it on your own music…

But I can at least post the following links, and you can see whether you agree with me on the whoops-sie-doos (5 seconds in to the recording, or, if the link takes you to the beginning, at 1:35 and 1:40 respectively)

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3 Responses to Guess That Tune!

  1. Evelyn Lamb says:

    I agree with your description of the whoop-sie-doos. Schiff sounds a lot more grounded there. I am not particularly good at “name that tune,” but one of my finest moments was when I correctly identified a piece I had never heard before. It was Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony. It was playing on the radio when I got in my car, and I couldn’t quite place it. I thought, “this sounds like if Prokofiev wrote Mozart,” and for some reason I knew he had written a Classical Symphony and figured that must be it. I don’t think I’ll ever top that.

  2. “if Prokofiev wrote Mozart” — excellent.

    As far as my own inspired guessing of music on the radio goes, I was happy to once guess “Experiences No.2” (as sung by Andrea Fullington) to be John Cage, even though it’s very much not what people (including me) think of when they think of John Cage. I even remember where I was — the car park of Bread & Circus on Prospect Street (maybe by then it was owned by Whole Foods but not yet of that name), and (as it turns out) I had turned on the radio in the middle of a WHRB Cage Orgy. Possibly 2004?

    • Evelyn Lamb says:

      Wow, that really is not what I associate with Cage! I’m impressed. I don’t know what other specific composer I would have guessed instead, but Cage would not have been at the top of the list.

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