Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Friday, April 15, 2011

Modest Mussorgsky's Mercurial Melodies

Meddling marmosets! Over $100 is up for grabs in my From A to Z Contest! Do you like money? You could win money.

Although these days I mostly listen to modern music — Lady Gaga, in particular, is fantastic1 — I have a better appreciation for classical music than most people. This is because a) I'm a classically trained violinist, and b) most people have absolutely no appreciation for classical music.

Odds are, you have no idea what a Modest Mussorgsky is. But if you've ever seen Disney's original Fantasia, you've heard Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain," one of my favorite classical pieces. That's not what this post is about, however; as with almost everything else I've done this month, I'm focusing on the letters.2

Musical notes are designated by the letters A through G, and as a violinist, I'm most familiar with the treble clef (which is also called the G-clef).3 When using the treble clef, the five lines of the musical staff (from bottom to top) are E-G-B-D-F. Like many music students, I was taught to remember that order with the mnemonic "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge." Although, to cut down on childhood obesity, in recent years I've heard: "Every Good Boy Deserves Favor," "Every Good Boy Denies Flavor," and "Evil Gnomes Burn Down Forests."

The spaces between the lines, on the other hand, are much easier to remember. They spell out either D.B. or B.C., depending on how old you are.4

Composing words — or songs — with A-G isn't too difficult. But composing a decent sentence is. I mean, I've tried a bunch of times already, and—Egad! Becca defaced Gaga's beaded cabbage feedbag! Bad! Bad Becca!

1 And you have no idea if I'm kidding, since I wrote that while wearing my poker face, p-p-poker face.
2 And not just because I enjoy plucking women's G strings when they aren't looking.
3 It's called the G-clef because one G is what it cost Count Johann von Treble to commission the clef's design from a young Albrecht Dürer. One G was a lot back then, worth at least 10 K. Am I telling you the truth? P-p-poker face.
4 That's Dirk Benedict or Bradley Cooper, a.k.a. FACE.

This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, hosted by Jen Daiker and seven others. Go check out the other participants!


  1. Well I learned a lot I did not know here. THanks for the post. I will be back for the A-z.

  2. Love what you write in the teensy tiny print. And I'll go with the Moody Blues version.

    Thanks for the laugh - and the info. One of which will stick with me.

  3. You know the EPA is now going to have to investigate all those charges that evil gnomes are burning down the forest, Nate. I hope you haven't fingered the wrong fantasy realm denizens. Especially since we all know that Smurfs have a pyromaniac in their midst (Jokey and his exploding gags!)

  4. I was also taught "Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge"

    A hilarious post. Loved it!

  5. I minored in music in college, so I definitely appreciate classical music.

  6. Well anything with 'org' in the middle of it sounds okay by me... I came to any appreciation late, but one of my writer's group is a violist, so from time to time I hear a joke with 'g-string' as the punchline... (and I do like Fantasia, particularly the hippo ballet)

  7. I really want to learn to play the violin, I think it's a beautiful instrument. I learned EGBDF as "Every Good Boy Does Fine". Fun read thanks

  8. Jeanne: I always enjoy teaching people something new. Or something completely inaccurate.

    Goddess: Huh, I had no idea the Moody Blues did their own version. I'll have to check it out. (Or, do you mean they did a version of "Poker Face"?) Anyway, if the laugh sticks with you, I can point you toward the best medicine for it. (Yes, they say laughter is the best medicine, but it's not good at curing itself.)

    Jeffrey: Oh please. Smurfs aren't fantasy realm denizens. They're completely real. Ask anyone. Personally, I'd have the EPA check out the Fantastic Four.

    M.J.: Thanks! I am hoping the gnome one catches on, though. Rather than support the fudge industry, we should really be supporting our forests against such evildoers.

    Alex: Glad to hear you're among the "few people," rather than part of "most people."

    Hart: Of course, with a violist as your source for orchestra jokes, you're probably completely missing out on many about violists...

    Spenc: You should learn violin. For one thing, it's so much easier to carry around than a piano. And now that you mention it, I also remember the "Does Fine" approach from my youth. I must have blocked it out, opting for the more enticing fudginess of its competitor.

  9. In the base cleff, I don't remember what mnemonic I learned, but one of my piano students said, "Greg Bit Doug's Fat A-word!" It cracked me up!

  10. Mary: As funny as it might have been, I suspect it wasn't at all pleasant for either Greg or Doug...

  11. Hey Can I join now at the A - Z I think I am late.
    Pl let me know so that I can jump into it

  12. Philip: It does look like it's too late to join in on the A to Z Challenge, since the Linky list is closed. You can, however, get involved by visiting many of the blogs listed (and of course my From A to Z Contest is still open for another week).