This Is Your Orchestra. This Is Your Orchestra On Drugs Being Attacked By Elephants

This one is for Protium, who said he could only handle about twenty-four seconds of listening. I find the visuals help make it slightly more bearable.

Now, I should point out that the YouTube video is mislabled – it’s not a “school orchestra” at all. Thus Spake Zarathustra, the music to the title sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Space Odyssey” – as performed by the Portsmouth Sinfonia.

I remember a Twitter conversation with someone (might have been Milton) who said that he knew someone was in the band – apparently he was an expert at another kind of instrument, but the requirements of joining Portsmouth Sinfonia is that you must NOT be able to play the instrument you’re given:

The early repertoire of the Sinfonia was drawn from standard classical repertoire (such as “The Blue Danube” waltz and “Also sprach Zarathustra”), so that most orchestra members had a rough idea of what the piece, or at least famous parts of it, should sound like; even if they could not play their chosen instrument accurately, they would at least have an idea that they should be going higher at one part then lower at another, and so on. The end result was the musical ensemble producing not only the correct note but several notes nearby, ‘clouds of sound’ that gave an average impression of the piece.

Many modern composers and musicians found this to be interesting and even profound; the comedic aspects of the music were merely a bonus, though it was used extensively for marketing purposes. Brian Eno was interested enough to join the orchestra, playing clarinet, and subsequently producing their first two albums.

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Eva @Mostraum Viewpoint

    That’s an orchestra I’d like to have joined. I would have been bad on anything but brass instruments :-)

  • Alex

    Oh´my. That is too funny! 10 minutes later and I’m still laughing, picturing it. Had to come back and comment.

  • Amadan

    Their ‘Classical Muddley” was the perfect response the execrable gawdawful crime against music that was the disco-beat atrocity “Hooked on Classics”

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Oh dear holy hades, I can’t agree with you more there!

  • Protium

    Thank you Kylie. It still hurts my ears and I fail to see the humour.

    Perhaps years of mixing bands that thought they were Pikkiwoki’s gift to the music industry has tainted me.

  • piero

    I thought the Deathstar canteen skit by Eddie Izzard was the funniest thing ever. I was wrong.