Wednesday, 3 July 2013



I often think that orgasm isn't (as some commentators seem to suggest) the best part of sex. Being well on the way but not there yet often feels better. Why, then, does it matter whether one comes or not?

Having sex is like listening to the introduction of Handel's 'Zadok the Priest.' The introduction is by far the best bit of the piece. Unusually for Baroque, whose harmonies tend to be quite predictably major or minor, it twists through several sets of unexpected chord progressions. There's a beautiful sense of building anticipation in those violins. Every time you think the start of the main piece is approaching, the music finds a way to avoid resolving. It keeps building towards a climax and then ebbing away again. Handel was a bloody tease.

After the introduction, it's just good old noise. So why don't we just play the introduction and then pack up and go to the pub? Because CLIMAX! After that introduction, we need a more tuneful way to say 'squee.' And if we don't get it, it hurts. If my old choir didn't come in with sufficient gusto, the conductor would stop us dead. Orgasm denial. Musical blue balls. Sometimes you have to suffer for your art.

There are other pieces that produce equally striking effects. Faure's 'Lux Aeterna' feels like having a bottle of iced champagne poured down your neck, while drunk. The spiritual 'Give Me Jesus' caused me to coin the term 'chordgasm.' Climax after climax, each more delicious than the last.

And if the conductor won't let you finish, you can always go away and listen to the rest of Zadok in your head afterwards. The only danger is that it, or whichever piece you are practising, will then be stuck in your head all day. If only there were some way of practising safe music!

No comments:

Post a Comment