Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cognitive Dissonance

            "Tie me Kaaaangarooooo Dauown Spooooorrrrrrrt-!"
Cognitive dissonance is sitting in a Doctor's waiting room and listening to a recording of Australian Bush Songs being sung by a classically trained European Soprano.  With a full hundred and ten piece classical orchestra keeping up with her. 
            It's not quite sacrilegious, but it is eye-poppingly absurd. 
            "Giiiive me a hooowmmmm amooong the Guhm Treeees!" the woman sang, through a throat of molten gold and a hundred silver violins.  This was just plain dreadful* but then - then - the CD went completely insane.  Molten trills and curlicues and heart-stoppingly sustained loooong notes do not do any sort of reasonable justice to Waltzing Matilda.  The simple harmonies of sheep-rustlers rasping dirges next to dusty billabongs owe nothing - absolutely nothing - to french horns and oboes and their rusty pathos does not ring extra true when a conductor breaks out in sopranos and kettle drums. It’s like a Polynesian hula dancer trying to interpret Tibetan throat singing with coconuts.

            "So we tanned his Haiiiiide when he daiiiide Clyyyyydddd 
            - and That’s! It! Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaangiiing in the 

* To orient those readers unfamiliar with the Australian Bush Music tradition, "Gimme a home among the Gum trees" is traditionally played on a  bent banjo with the strings held on by sheeting nails, and sung by an antique shearer who has just walked his way from Dubbo to Gundagai in high summer with one pair of cracked boots,  a rusted tin kettle, a woolen bedroll six generations older than he is, and six tins of fosters beer to sustain him.  He has swallowed sixteen hundred pints of dust and thirty seven hundred thousand flies and when he settled down for the night at the one watercourse he met in the whole journey, a bunyip tried to eat him.  And found the banjo more nourishing.

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