• Richard Scrimger

flat baroque


I have satellite TV now. (Don't worry, this is not a post about my favorite shows. I have no favorite shows, and the ones I watch are with and because of my kids. If it's of interest at all, and while I'm still in the bracket, I can tell you that the most used channels are MTV2 and a rugby-soccer channel where all the announcers have North British accents. But that's not the point here.) Along with the 650-odd channels of television I get about 300 channels of radio. And one of those plays baroque music. I've had it on in the background for about a week now, except when the kids are over and switch to Viva La Bam.


As you'll have guessed, I like baroque music. Always have. The first record I remember listening to was Bach's transcriptions of Vivaldi's multi-violin concerti for multi-harpsichord. (My mom tells a charming story of me on the living room floor, picking my nose in tempo.) First record I bought with my own money was not "Sugar Sugar" but something by Giovanni Gabrieli. (Not that I can't sing the words to "Sugar Sugar." No one alive at the time escaped that song. Long after every word of the great poets has vanished from me, I will be able to sing "Sugar Sugar." That's the ineluctability of pop culture. I suspect that my last conscious thought will not be of art or destiny or loved ones. I can see me in the nursing home, friends and family leaning forward as I whisper, "Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Jed ...")


Sorry, where was I? Baroque music. Yes, I have loved it all my life. Pleasant, tuneful, easy-access music. Some pieces are old friends; others are new but they share so many features that I feel I know them. Scanning down the radio dial and finding a piece by Handel or Scarlatti has always been enough to make me smile at my good luck.


This past week I have smiled a lot. The baroque TV channel has the day blocked out in two or three hour segments, but they are all the same, sausage links of sound made of the same ingredients. But do you know -- I'm getting sick of it. It hit me this morning when I got up, flipped on the TV, and heard the old familiar strains. That's what this post is about. I am beginning to be oppressed by my own good fortune. If you are starving, a meal is an important event. But I am not starving for baroque music. I am stuffed.


More on this next time -- I feel that there are a number of factors involved in my sudden distaste for the soundtrack of my life. Right now, I am going to go back downstairs, turn off my satellite TV, and find something different to listen to. I wonder what would represent anti-baroque music? Mahler? Philip Glass? Blondie? Biggie Smalls? Jason Collett?



Maybe silence.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada