Like Fight Club, but with Piano

Sun, Nov 6, 2005 2-minute read

A fellow Microsoftie, “Jim of Seattle,” has been contributing pieces to since 2003.  His most recent piece, “Welcome to ______,” adds another landslide win to his list.  (That’s 6 dashes, if you care.)  He takes the simple Windows XP startup theme, and then builds a nice classical melody around it.  Check it out – it’s truly cool.

He battles a powerful demon in this song – that being the strongly charged musical idiom.  In language, an idiom is “… an expression whose meaning is not compositional – that is, whose meaning does not follow from the meaning of the individual words of which it is composed” [Wikipedia]  A musical idiom is the musical equivalent – short advertising themes are probably the most common example.  He uses many of the default sounds from Windows – songs which are strongly tied to our computing instincts in many cases.  Without introducing the sounds carefully, it’s easy for a listener to get jarred from the mood of a piece because of an overwhelming urge to see what error dialog just popped up.

Opera companies staging Wagner’s “Lohengrin” need to be especially careful of this phenomenon.  The third act has the overly-familiar “Wedding March” – a song that brings so much more to the table now than it did when it was written.  In fact, many productions drop the song altogether to avoid having the 20th century associations invade the carefully crafted storyline.

As a side-note, this song finally helped me figure out that the theme is:

D# A# G# D# A#