Sucking heartily on life's half-time oranges

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.

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