Music 101: Humor

Unlike the lessons up to this point – Gratitude, Grace, Humility, and Patience – today’s lesson is not essential to music. Whole genres of music, specifically classical and jazz, are considered “serious music.” A humorless approach to music can deliver something wonderful, even momentous. But…

A little humor goes a long way. Even in a serious piece of music a little humor can make a nice contrast that deepens a song’s resonance. I remember sitting in the Metropolitan Opera House, listening to Mozart’s Magic Flute for the first time and when the Queen of the Night aria was performed, I couldn’t help but smile. It seemed an act of playful cruelty to expect anyone to sing such an insanely challenging piece. It didn’t seem human.

There are two things that don’t have to mean anything, one is music and the other is laughter.

Immanuel Kant

I don’t know if this is a common reaction to music, but when I hear something especially good I almost always laugh. It’s not just music – I do the same thing with paintings and writing that shocks me with the intensity of its beauty.

If I could make one recommendation to any musician on a simple way to make their music better with minimal effort, I would tell them to add a little humor. I know I am not the only one to find an advantageous link between music and humor. I bet John Entwistle was another.

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