Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Say It (correctly) With Music

I got more than a terrific musical performance this past Sunday. During their concert at Reutlinger's Victorian Palace in San Francisco, violinist David Reffkin, leader of the American Ragtime Ensemble, and St. Louis ragtime pianist Dr. Dave Majzchrak, did a real number on a bit of common verbal misconduct.

"Maple Leaf Rag, by Scott Joplin, is such a well-known composition," said Reffkin, "that pianists often say they know it forward and backward. But when was the last time you heard someone actually play Maple Leaf Rag backward? "

Whereupon, the two musicians proceeded to do exactly that. Very odd experience. Reffkin said it might have been the toughest musical transcription he'd ever done. I believe that.

Reffkin could have taken the fun even further. Does it literally blow you away to hear people say "literally" when they mean "figuratively?" But when the pianist and the violinist said they knew Maple Leaf Rag backward, that's just what they meant, folks. Literally.

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