Friday, October 26, 2012

Everything I know about music I learned from figure skating

"Oh, that's right. You're not really into music."

Pardon me??

Me? Former music major. Been singing and playing instruments for most of my life. I'm not really into music?

When a co-worker said that to me, I was a bit dumbfounded. I took a breath and realized that "Yes, I'm a music person, but I guess I'm just not into the same type of music you are."

Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that music has always been a huge part of my life. I just don't have a wide range of music genres on my playlist. I like classic rock, but I couldn't tell you which band goes with which song. I'm not really into country music (except for a brief phase in the mid 1980s) and, since owning an iPod, I don't listen to Top 40 radio anymore.

Now, if you want to talk about classical music, broadway musicals or movie soundtracks, I'm ready for ya. And there's a simple reason for that. It's called figure skating. For many years, music with lyrics weren't allowed in skating competitions, so that basically limited your choices to classical music or movie soundtracks.

My main point of reference for a piece of music isn't which opera its from or what movement it is. My reference point is "who skated to it?" Bolero? Torvill and Dean 1984 Olympics. Moonlight Sonata? Gordeeva and Grinkov -1994 Olympics. Afternoon of a  faun? Janet Lynn 1973. Bizet's Carmen? 1988 Olympics - choice of Katrina Witt or Debbi Thomas.

But it's not just the elite skaters' music. There are also several pieces that I know because they are used over and over and over again. (Really, I wish some coaches would reach out beyond their stash of albums and look for new pieces) Overused pieces include: Forest Gump soundtrack, Adaigo of Spartacus and Phrygia, Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez (otherwise known as that "spanish piece"), and the Pirates of the Caribean soundtrack.

I discovered "everything I know about music I learned from figure skating" while at a dinner party at a friend's house. The hostess loved opera and she had Puccini's Turandot playing and the aria "Nessun dorma" started playing. My ears perked up immediately.

One of the other guests asked about the song and what it was about. Leslie, the hostess started to tell the story, but I was already in my own zone. The song was building up to a crescendo and I blurted out, "This is my favorite part!" Leslie looked at me, a bit amazed that I knew the song so well, but before she could say anything, I added, "This is where Boitano goes into the most amazing death drop. The height was unbelievable."

The rest of the guests and Leslie were silent and just sort of stared at me. "What are you talking about?" she asked.

"Oh, um... I guess I know this song because Brian Boitano skated to it for a couple of seasons."

I think that was my last dinner party at Leslie's. I'm sure it's not that I wasn't invited again, I just wasn't able to attend because I was most likely traveling for a skating competition.

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