My 10 favorite "songs"

Mar 12 2007 Published by under Random & Gratuitous

Chris at Mixing Memory has a post about correlating one's favorite music with one's personality.

Learn just what a fuddy-duddy I am by reading this list:

  1. Saint-Saens, Symphony #3 (the "Organ Symphony")
  2. Beethoven, Symphony #7 (esp. the 2nd movement)
  3. Dvorak, the "New World" Symphony (#9)
  4. Schubert, String Quintet in C Major (the cello quintet)
  5. Copeland, "Fanfare for the Common Man"
  6. Helmet by the Bobs
  7. Holtz, "Jupiter" from "The Planets"
  8. Tchaikovsy, Violin Concerto
  9. Widor, Toccata for Organ from Symphony #5
  10. Brahms, Symphony #1

Most people will quickly notice that it's 90% classical music, and their eyes will immediately glaze over. Those who know anything about classical music may make something out of the tendency towards 19th-century orchestral music....

Addendum: Of course, this list is too short. There's a whole lot of classical music I love that's not on there. But there's other stuff I like too. In no specific order:

  • Kool and the Gang's "Celebrate Good Times." Generally, it's not a style of music I'm fond of. The driving drumbeat of most popular music from 1950 or later often sets off my "highly sensitive person" whiskers, leaving me wanting an out. But "Celebration" was what they always played at the Oakland Colosseum whenever one of the A's would hit a home run, or when they would win a game. As such, I have a lot of visceral positive associations with that.

  • All of the Bobs. I love the a capella sound. I also love their wacky, offbeat sense of humor. I haven't heard much of "They Might Be Giants," but I've liked what I've heard of that as well.

  • "In the Mood" by Glen Miller. Indeed, I like a fair amount of Jazz, and sometimes listen to it on the radio. I prefer the all-instrumental jazz to vocals, but I like a lot of it. "In the Mood" is probably my favorite.

  • Sondheim and other Broadway musicals. Some more than others. I've done a lot of community theater, I've played my violin in a few orchestras, and I've performed in (and been the stage manager or producer of) several community theater productions of musicals. I like a lot of that stuff.

  • John Williams soundtracks. To a lot of people, this sounds like classical music, but many people who study and know classical music get offended by the suggestion that this media tie-in popular pablum is at all the same thing. But, heck, I'm a physicist, not a musicologist. I'm allowed to get a thrill out of the theme to Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars. My single favorite composition by John Williams is probably the Olympic overture he wrote for the 1984 Olympics.

18 responses so far

  • mollishka says:

    Is it just me, or are The Bobs slightly out of place there?

  • Rob Knop says:

    It just goes to show that taking a "top 10" is too simplistic 🙂

  • Chris Taylor says:

    "Most people will quickly notice that it's 90% classical music, and their eyes will immediately glaze over."
    Except for a few obsessive pedants who will be quick to point out that the majority of your list is actually Romantic and Modern music. 🙂 Have you heard the quartet Bond?

  • Heidi says:

    Or some of us could look at our collections (which run from medieval plainchant to Japanese Visual Kei rock) and note that a couple of your top ten rate very high here as well 🙂

  • SLC says:

    Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach. Greatest piece ever written for the organ (of course there is controversy as to whether the piece was written for the organ in the first place and whether it was written by Bach).

  • Melissa G says:

    Ah, I LOVE the New World symphony!!! Unfortunately Brendan does not so much care for it, so it gets highly underplayed in our house. He does like Brahms, though. Little guy is more of a Common Practice Period fan.

  • Rob Knop says:

    Except for a few obsessive pedants who will be quick to point out that the majority of your list is actually Romantic and Modern music. 🙂 Have you heard the quartet Bond?
    Indeed, you are with it enough to recognize that it's a particular subset of Classical music from which my favorites spring, and that doubtless says something about my personality. Or, more likely, it says something about the fact that I was a violinist playing in youth orchestras during many of pre-college years.
    I am not familiar with Bond; what is its deal?
    SLC -- yeah, I love that piece, but I have to admit that I like the Widor Toccata more.

  • Jorg says:

    Well, indeed, it's mostly Romanticism; but Williams does not feel out of place there: it belongs in the rather direct line of descent from Brahms via Bruckner and Mahler et al. Certainly, he is much more similar to your top 10 than, say, Kancheli, Part, or Tavener would be...or Gorecki! oh, man, I'mo listen me to some Gorecki right now!.....;)
    And Heidi: I love your taste in music. I kind of feel the same...

  • David Williamson says:

    (In the style of another certain thread on this blog..)
    What? No Mahler?! You heathen! You must like Mahler, or you're not one of Us, and that would be Bad for you!
    Okay, so I'm a sucker for about the same set of music, although I'm less keen on that French dude you have at #1. Oh, and some quality time with Pink Floyd. For a good time, play a late Beethoven symphony back to back with Dark Side of the Moon. While quite different, the similarities are also a bit shocking.
    You're right that a top ten isn't nearly enough. Besides Mahler, you would need to get Shostakovich in my top ten...along with another 100 or so various artists. A list by genre isn't enough detail either...I think I could do a top ten favorite symphonists without any trouble.

  • Chris Taylor says:

    Bond is a string quartet from the U.K., but their CDs are available here in The States. They are marketed as though they were pop musicians. I think they generated some controversy about their playing style being too modern for them to be included on the classical music charts in Britain. I thought you might like them since I knew about your history with violins. My appreciation for them has NOTHING to do with their physical appearance, despite rumors to the contrary.
    No... nothing at all. 🙂

  • Rob Knop says:

    Favorite Shostakovich is probably his piano quartet. I was in a group that was playing that when I was in grad school, but I broke my wrist (true story : I was hit by a car while riding a unicycle), and so had to miss the concert. (Another violist replaced me.)
    Favorite Mahler is probably Symphony #1.
    The Saint-Saens : I just love the organ symphony. I also just love the violin concerto. Bring me to tears.

  • David Williamson says:

    Favorite Mahler for me is either #5 or #9 (shades of Beethoven!) I've become a big fan of #6 too, although it's a hard listen. I saw it performed live by the San Francisco Symphony on Sept. 15, 2001, and it had huge impact on me. (That performance was recorded and later won a Grammy.)
    There's so much good music out there...this could go on for a long time!

  • raj says:

    My favorite piece is Schubert's Wanderer-Fantasie, done by Alfred Brendel. It is a work in symphonic form, done on a single musical instrument--the piano. It is absolutely astounding.
    Another choice, the Bach organ work toccata and fugue in D-minor--absolutely creepy.
    Both should be available on iTunes.

  • raj says:

    By the way, in case you might be interested, here is a web site that I discovered several years ago that has excepts from a number of classical music pieces--along with a lot else. The site is spanish, but it's fairly easy to figure out what is writen there regarding the music.

  • I quite like most of the stuff in your list, even though I'm more of a contemporary music nut.
    However, the absolute favorite stuff in my music collection you might appreciate as well. Surely the finest music ever made! The melodies... the counterpoint.... the words! There are some samples free: (the Swift song is my favorite)

  • Oh! Forgot to mention, in other geeky astronomy-music news....
    A piece for brass and orchestra from Bay Area composer Nolan Gasser is being commissioned for the launch of GLAST (it's titled... what else? "GLAST-off").
    I wish every first-light brought with it new music 🙂

  • Rob Knop says:

    Yes, Astrocapella is great! A friend of mine sent me an early version of the Astrocapella CD by the Chromatics several years ago, and I've been known to play selections of theirs in my classes.
    Not only are the words clever, but they do have a great a capella sound to them.

  • csrster says:

    I'm a little surprised to find a classical-music loving christian whose top-ten doesn't include any religious works. I haven't made my own list but I expect that Bach's B-minor Mass would be on it somewhere (and I'm a jewish atheist).