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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Boccherini Enigma

Over the course of long association, marked by near complete absence of argument, a dear friend and I have seldom agreed on anything. We do, however, both like music, its bearing upon history and the world at large. For instance, I am listening to Boccherini music right now. My friend probably isn't, and if he was, he wouldn't draw the same inferences as I.

Bach invented the Boccherini, a type of Italian Kazoo, hence the similarity of names. So I must challenge custom by inferring another favorite composer, Offenbach, was not only a convincing Bach impersonator but was often Milton as well. Milton was a poet, not a musician, but the Mirliton --a flute with a paper reed, yes, a kind of Kazoo-- was named for him. Or was it? Could it be a ruse by Offenbach who was also Offenmilton? A French composer born in Germany might easily wake up in Italy and not be quite himself.

Italy, in turn, was invented by Romans, from whose language comes the word Vocaphone. The Vocaphone is yet another kazoo that has trombone features. It is still used in high-class music everywhere --unlike its sibling, the Eunuch Flute, a predictably unproductive invention. But these are the building blocks of the symphony, which, while important, do not further our investigation.

We need to examine the opposite of symphony, cacophony. The Cacaphone was created in Portugal by flushing a bag of kazoos down a commode which made a noise that was heard in Spain. Queen Isabella, a monarch of refined sensibilities, was so repulsed she financed a mission, in 1492, to export this art farther away than could be imagined at the time. In the New World the Kazoo was enlarged and sealed at both ends to where it issued not music but Eskimos, and was called a Kayak.

While this investigation brings us no closer to the real identity of the genius who was so offenmistaken for other geniuses, it has given me the fun of expressing the sort of opinion my friend can't stand any more, which brings us to another rare point of agreement. Even though he and I must maintain it in different ways, we both value our sanity.



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