Spike versus Beethoven: a Poll

This is a long post. Don’t feel pressure to read everything. But at the very least, I encourage you to listen, watch, and vote!

My FAQ post the other day lent itself to some Buffy discussion in the comments — Spike quote-sharing, favorite and least favorite characters, etc. — if you’ve seen Buffy, feel free to contribute. And I’ve started Season 5 and couldn’t be happier. I’m thinking way too much about it, really, and want to talk about this show more here someday. And maybe particularly about Spike, because while I continue to love his humor, his insight, his large yet despicable heart, his twisted approach to relationships, and his reliably terrible decisions… I KNOW there must be some Spike dissenters out there who’d like to express themselves. HOWEVER. Now isn’t the time to get into it, because I’m only on Season 5, so I don’t have all the data yet. So. Maybe we could talk about Buffy more sometime in the future? 🙂

(NOTE: please feel free to comment now as much as you like! I know the plot of Buffy in general and Spike in particular all the way through Season 7, and I don’t mind Buffy spoilers. [It’s the only thing I don’t mind spoilers for, actually!] All I mean to say here is that I don’t feel qualified to contribute to the discussion myself yet. Knowing what happens is different from watching how it plays out. For example, I know the facts of what happens with Buffy and Spike in Season 6, and let me tell you, I’m prepared for the possibility that it’s going to be fabulous OR the most horrible, creepy thing ever. — Feel free to tell me what you thought.)

Now, stand back, because I’m about to geek out about Beethoven. (Again.)

Behind this link is one of the most beautiful movements of a piano sonata ever written, IMO: the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23, Opus 57 (the “Appassionata”). (If you want to hear the whole sonata, just click on the first movement and it will carry you all the way through.) What I love about the second movement is its simplicity. It presents a single melody, plays it through once, and then repeats it, faithfully, four more times, but in four beautiful variations. Listen for yourself. The melody is played through the first time in the first 1:40. You’ll notice that it itself contains repetition: a simple melody; repeat; a second simple melody; repeat. Then, at 1:41, we start the whole thing over, with minor variations, and play it all the way through. The version that makes me want to die of happiness is the third go-through, which starts at 3:05. The fourth go-through starts at 4:18, and the final, which very much recalls the original, starts at 5:28.

Much of music is about repetition and variations on a theme… but, well, I guess I love how simply it’s all played out in this lovely little movement. Plus, for me, with Beethoven, it isn’t just the way he repeats and plays with his melodies and themes. I love the way he repeats notes within his melodies and themes. Have you ever hummed or whistled a melody and suddenly realized you’ve been humming/whistling the same note over and over again? This happens a lot with Beethoven; it’s a thing you might notice now and then in the Appassionata. He is so good at repeating the same note over and over again and making it beautiful!

Oh my goodness. I just went off to find a youtube of the second movement of his Seventh Symphony, intending to try to explain what I mean in words — so guess how excited I am that I found THIS?

Press play and watch along; it shows just what I mean about Beethoven repeating the same note over and over, while using other instruments to weave all around the repeating notes. It’s characteristic of much of the movement, but the most glaring example is probably from 6:00 to 6:22 — note the places where a single color remains stuck in a horizontal pattern, a straight or dotted line. Gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh! The Fifth Symphony has some other good examples. Especially go to 3:28 or 3:55 or 6:51 here.

Okay. Some of you have been very patient today, humoring me and the Beethoven squee. Others have decided to drop me from your blog readers. Regardless, it’s now time for a highly scientific poll. In the interest of fairness, since I’ve stuck so much Beethoven in your faces, I need to stick some Spike in your faces before asking you to vote, especially for those of you who’ve never met him. Context: Buffy has just found Spike lurking behind a tree outside her house, and has punched him in the face.

And if you care to see the next part of the conversation:

And now, please vote! (If you can’t see the poll, click here!)

Have a nice weekend, everyone :o). Coming next week: short posts!