Too Many Notes!!! (Also Too Loud, Fast, And Busy!!!)

Posted by Dave

King George II of England was so moved by his first hearing of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s Messiah that he spontaneously rose from his seat, thus creating a tradition which continues to this day. (When the king stood – so did everyone else. They still do)

But monarchs can also be critics. Emperor Joseph II told Mozart that his new opera had “too many notes, Mr. Mozart! There are only so many notes that the ear can stand.”

Lots of party veterans know exactly how Joseph felt. During the dinner hour of a gala, when the bulk of conversations are held, a band or deejay can be 3 things which irritate even the most devoted music fan:

1. Too loud. The louder your music is, the more volume is required to carry on conversation. Multiply this times 100 conversations, and you have a decibel level beyond the pain threshold.

2. Too fast. McDonald’s Muzak plays up-tempo tunes to get you in and out quickly. Research proves that the faster the music, the briefer the meal. This may be fine at the Golden Arches, but it is entirely wrong for an elegant reception.

3. Too busy. Often, even when the music is softer and more leisurely paced, soloists will try to cram as many 8th, 16th, and 32nd notes as possible into each chorus. (In my business, such players are said to “think that they are paid by the note.”)

To avoid indigestion, unhappy guests, and a premature end to your carefully orchestrated evening, tell your band leader or deejay that – during dinner – you expect the following:

A. Softer music. Save the volume for after dessert.

B. Slower music. All the songs don’t have to be ballads – light Swing or moderately-paced Latin tunes work great. But reserve the fast stuff until there are dancers on the floor to appreciate it.

C. Music with some “breathing room.” “Uzi” solos – so called because their rapid-fire rate is reminiscent of an automatic weapon (and has about the same effect on a dining crowd) – horribly violate Emperor Joseph’s rule about how many notes our ears can stand. It is infinitely better to save these showcases of technique (if not of taste) until your guests’ ears aren’t engaged in trying to follow the thread of a conversation.

I also recommend starting out the evening with songs known and loved by your older guests. After dinner, your deejay or bandleader can gradually raise the tempo and work in newer material until a comfortable plateau for your crowd has been reached.

Follow these suggestions, and you may never have to hear a treasured guest complain: “Too many notes!!!”


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