A while back She Who Must Be Obeyed came home with a ukelele. I can’t actually play one, which rather spoiled my effort to produce the ‘Smoke On The Water’ riff. Came out more as ‘Cat Scratch Fever’.
That’s not the dumbest thing I’ve tried musically. Ever see ‘In Brugges’? That scene where Brendan Gleeson confronts Ralph Fiennes in a tower. That tower’s where the town carillion sits. The thing goes off hourly with some mangled classical piece, usually Beethoven, which sounds weird in twelve-tone tuning.
I found out it’s possible to play it manually,but She Who Must Be Obeyed wouldn’t let me approach the enquiries desk. She knew what would happen. I’d go in on the basis of some suitably grand pop-classic by Beethoven, but I’d actually play something really stupid, probably ‘Louie Louie’. This is mainly because there are amoeba on Saturn more capable of playing 200-year old classics than me. But I think Mr Berry’s music is as legitimate as anybody else’s. It even has the same chord progression (match it against Bach’s Two Part Invention No. 8 in F Major, for instance).. Everybody else thinks it’s dumb three-chord rock that should not sully famous instruments.
That is why She Who Must Be Obeyed wouldn’t let me try the carillion in Brugges. Or the commandant’s piano at Port Arthur in 1998. Last year when were looking over the Governor’s House in Parramatta, I suggested Lachlan MacQuarie’s old piano needed testing. ‘No it doesn’t.’
I’ve only ever got away with this once. A while back we visited a piano shop and found a 91-note Bosendorfer 9-foot grand. Best piano in the world. Warmer than a Steinway, to be treated reverently, played professionally – in short, loved, musically. At least until I arrived.
‘Can I have a play?’ I asked the eager sales rep.
‘Sure,’ he said. I sat down at the piano, and looked across at She Who Must Be Obeyed, who had that ‘I know what’s coming now’ look.
And she was right.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012