Wednesday, June 14, 2006

symphonic sports

A charming little radio piece by Frank Deford, "The Most Wonderful (Sports) Time of the Year," equates sports with the sections of the orchestra. He uses excerpts from Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, accompanied with his own poetic descriptions of the sports.

The violins represent baseball (ubiquitous, virtuosic); basketball is the tuba and low brass (big, slippery); golf summons up the harp (quiet, refined); tennis soars with the clarinet (high, quick); ice hockey takes the violas (forgotten, unloved); while soccer is the percussion section (pounding, rhythmic). I might argue with some of his choices: shouldn't tennis be a string instrument? - and wouldn't soccer, with its long stretches of boredom and occasional flashes of cathartic brilliance, better represent the brass? But Deford's lyrical commentary, and his obvious love for the games and the associations they bring, make it a fun 4-minute listen.

I wonder what sport the lower strings could represent, though. Deford mentions horse racing, without assigning any instrument - maybe we would fit there, with our agile, athletic fingerings, and our occasional, crippling injuries? Maybe swimming, with our steady, supportive cushion of sound - or archery, with our plucky strings and need for uncanny precision. I just hope we don't get stuck with NASCAR racing, though perhaps it works in some ways: numbingly repetitive, needlessly loud, equipment-obsessed, and prone to occasionally horrific crashes.


me said...

R U dissin' NASCAR?

Here in the south it's quite important stuff.

Matt Heller said...

Oops, please excuse the offense! I have to plead ignorance, since I've never really watched or understood NASCAR., me.