Sucking heartily on life's half-time oranges

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Modern Classical Music/Silent Football Experiment No. 2

Ill on the sofa under the duvet for a red-hot FA Cup clash, so it's time for another music-football collision. I watched most of the Manchester United vs Liverpool FA Cup 4th with its usual 'naked' sound (ie ITV's slightly humdrum commentary) before trying a little bit of Debussy's Arabesque I, which worked momentarily, in the vein of classic silent film with ole' joanna accompaniment, but it was a little too coquettish for this match. Instead I moved into the 20th century (just) for some early Webern, easing into his 1904 symphonic poem Im Sommerwind. This worked a treat, with its late-late Romanticism taking the edge off the supposed aggression and tension in this North-West el classico; I hate all that pre-match media hype stoking up images of grudge-bearing gladiators in the ring, gnashing their teeth and slavering with racist thoughts, when you look at them and they're (mostly) a load of nicely-manicured boys just looking forward to a bit of a run-around. So the Webern turned the second half into a calmer, quietly euphoric state of affairs, with a few uncanny hilarities: some hints of homoeroticism between De Gea and Evra via some swoony string section frivolity; some perfect comedy when Gerrard was cued off the pitch to a massive cymbal crash, followed by menacing low double basses as Bellamy barrelled on; big chords for Kenny Dalgleish as he made furious hand gestures; and finally, the 'Hernandez theme', a flute and harp sparkling with youth and innocence. Fabulous!

All this is a distraction from the less glamorous endz of the Football League, where Wycombe have been  zinging wildly about like an old-skool Pong ball between dramatic wins and losses: our last four results have been 0-3, 2-3, 3-0 and 2-5, today against Brentford. As a sorry-bottom-lipped WWFC supporter lass tweeted forlornly, 'I try to keep positive but the table doesn't lie.' Indeed. The team does though: prostrate, snoozing and flabby at the bottom of the League. UGH!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Contemporary Classical Music/Silent Football Experiment No. 1

Now here's the way to enliven an drizzle-sodden midweek footy match on tv: turn the sound down and whack on some 20th/21st-century music. You wouldn't have thought that the incongruous pairing of Cardiff City vs Crystal Palace (Carling Cup semi-final 2nd leg) and orchestral works by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu would work, and I had just come from watching 'The Artist' in the cinema, but by golly, it worked a treat! The game transcended from an unglamorous fixture between Championship teams in the Cup competition that no-one cares about to a thing of impossible tension and daring, life or death stuff. The players, with one sweep of Bernard Herrmann-esque strings, transformed magically into dance-theatre performers of soaring balletic wonder; the manager's desperate flailings became exquisite choreography; Stuart Pearce and Chris Coleman, watching in the stand, were glowering villians accompanied by foreboding brass; and referee Howard Webb became, somewhat bafflingly, a romantic lead. The timing was hilariously apt, with emotional peaks of near-hysteria on certain attacking moves, or a flute line denoting the inner torment of a player doing a throw-in, who looked so confident but was made pitiably anguished by the music. Ha ha.

This only works, of course, when you're a neutral. This was proved by my experience of JazzBall at London's premier jazz hangout, The Vortex, in which two trios free-improvised to an early England game in Euro 2008; I couldn't bear it and dashed to a friend's house at half-time to watch it properly. But still, maybe this is the start of a whole new ball game, with grimy fixtures accompanied by the doyens/doyennes of modern music: QPR vs Wigan, soundtracked by Ligeti; Hull City vs Millwall, underscored by Saariaho. Tee hee.