15 Comments

  1. Just to clarify, I don’t think Anderson intended the reference to “Peter and the Wolf” — the joke is complete without it. There is the absurdity of why the guy brought his instrument to this business meeting; and then the surprise usefulness of it standing in for the missing last column of the bar graph.

    But I couldn’t read “represented by the bassoon” without thinking of “Peter and the Wolf”.

    If there is anyone not familiar with that piece, let me recommend Sara Fishko’s audio essay on it. See https://www.wnyc.org/story/peter-and-the-wolf/ and play the audio at the top, not the Disney video further down.

  2. @Mitch4: “There is the absurdity of why the guy brought his instrument to this business meeting”

    Not just “the guy” — each of the four standing characters brought an instrument. (So why wouldn’t the “fourth quarter” character be at the end of the line, instead of second from the left? If this company thinks the fourth quarter comes between the first and third quarters, they would seem to have more problems than just strange methods of presentation.)

  3. Oh, you’re right! I didn’t even notice — and trying not to blame the drawing style.

    So I’m not positive what the woodwinds are. But oddly enough, these are all “Peter and the Wolf” featured instruments if we are indeed seeing oboe (duck), bassoon (Grandfather), horn (wolf), and clarinet (cat).

    However, I would excuse the presenter from your point about the confusion of quarters. I think it’s just where he’s standing, he’s not really pointing to the space between first and second bars to insert one. The visible bars might be (previous) 4th q, then current 1st, 2nd, 3rd, with the next one to come being the current-year 4th.

    For anyone who might enjoy a complete performance (about 15 mins) , here is the Disney cartoon version of the story, with narration by David Bowie.

  4. Not to overthink this (or actually to overthink it, with apology), but I see I’ve misinterpreted Shrug’s point about the sequence of quarters — it wasn’t about the presenter’s position or hand (as I took it, and tried to answer) but the order of the standing instrumentalists. (Which I don’t have an answer for.)

  5. Composers often use the bassoon for comedic effect or to represent a buffoon. As a result, the bassoon is sometimes referred to as “the clown of the orchestra.” Then again, it is also sometimes called a “farting bedpost.”

    Because of the above, you don’t need to know about “Peter and the Wolf” for this to work. On the other hand, if you know about the above, you will probably instantly think of “Peter.” I know I did.

  6. Thank you, Ja!

    Not to obsess on the topic of bassoons, here is a site about featured bassoon passages.
    http://www.orchestralbassoon.com/complete-list

    It is a little hard to get around in there to playable audio clips, but they do have them.
    Here is the page with (score and) clips for the famous and beautiful opening of The Rite of Spring (1913), featuring a bassoon in a high register.
    http://www.orchestralbassoon.com/stravinsky-rite-part-1
    (The clips list the orchestra, conductor, and dates, but don’t name the soloist!)

  7. Woo-Hoo! I clicked on my CIDU link out of habit today, and am pleasantly surprised to see things are starting up again. Many thanks to WW , Mitch4 and others for putting in the work to keep this site up and running.

  8. There was a time when I played bassoon and could read tenor clef. There were a few high pieces I liked playing, but it was so long ago that I don’t remember which ones I enjoyed. Now I can barely make one of my kid’s clarinet squeak.

    Also, I think the Spellbinder once turned a bassoon into a baboon. I was always disappointed that Letterman didn’t change it back, but only had the double L (on his varsity sweater) to turn it into a harmless balloon.

  9. There are words to the Rite of Spring:

    IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII’m not an Enligsh Horn.
    I’m not an English Horn.
    I’m a Bassoon, I am, and not an English Horn.

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