It never ceases to amaze just how much one can miss at any given concert event; especially when it comes to the perspective of concert-goers that haven’t grown up with musical training or steeped in the nuances of classical music culture.
To that end, Chattanooga Symphony concertmaster and Neo Classical author, Holly Mulcahy, decided to walk a few miles in their shoes in order to answer questions and stay grounded (the latter being a good idea for anyone with some history in this field).
Mulcahy published an article on 5/11/2015 title Why Is The Timpani Player Smelling His Drums (and seven other awesome questions from the audience) that covers her interaction with concert-goers and what they’ve been noticing on-stage.
It’s a genuine feel-good post and is the latest in a series from Mulcahy that are rapidly becoming required source material for those charged with outreach and patron interaction.
There is no such thing as stupid questions, only stupid answers. That is something most everyone has heard, yet the manner in how some questions are answered can be off-putting. For my article, What to Wear at the Symphony, one person wrote: “Wear what you want. End of discussion.” This may have been an exasperated music expert tired of the discussion, but future audience members are actually asking these questions. They should never be shut down, shut out, or made to feel like they ought to know something. Simply keep quiet or answer the question without the snark!
In the end, all of this makes me wish we lived in a world where timpani players could tune by sense of smell. If nothing else, it would be fascinating to know what C3 smells like and until someone proves otherwise, I’m going to imagine it would smell like vanilla.