Classical Rubbernecking

Classical Rubbernecking

Classical Rubbernecking

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
April 13 1999 11:31 AM

Classical Rubbernecking

Chatterbox, who is in Los Angeles this week, is beguiled by the banners fluttering from city street lamps advertising the L.A. Philharmonic. Each one carries a phonetic rendering of a snippet of classical music. Apparently they have been up since September. Driving along Van Nuys Boulevard, Chatterbox spotted one that said:

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Tuddle
Tum
Tuddle
Tum
Tuddle
Tum, tum, tum

Ah yes, Chatterbox thought, it's a military march. But what's it called? While he struggled to remember the name and the composer, he nearly plowed into the car in front of him. This caused him to wonder whether clever roadside advertising in general, and this clever roadside advertising in particular (dreamed up, Chatterbox is told, by an in-house graphic designer for the orchestra named Gretchen Citrin) is beneficial to public health. Later that day, Chatterbox phoned the office of the L.A. Philharmonic to get some assistance in compiling a cheat sheet for safety-conscious L.A. drivers.

The snippet above, it turned out, wasn't the military march Chatterbox had in mind, though it easily could have been. (If any reader knows its name, please send it in.) It's Rossini's "William Tell Overture," more popularly known as the theme music for The Lone Ranger. Here are the three others that the L.A. Phil has put on banners and bus advertisements:

1)      Da
         Da
         Da
         Dah

2)      Bum,
         Ba bum,
         Ba
         Bum, bum
         Bum, bum bum

3)      Da
         Da, da, da,
         Dum,
         Da dum
         Da dum

If you didn't get No. 1, there's no hope for you. It's Beethoven's Fifth. As for No. 2, it should be only a little harder to figure out that it's Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." Chatterbox thinks No. 3 would be easier to figure out if "Da da da da dum" were all on one line. It's Johann Strauss Jr.'s "The Blue Danube." If you are an L.A. motorist, or plan to be driving in the city anytime soon, you might want to consider printing out this information and keeping it Scotch-taped to your dashboard.

--Timothy Noah