Musical Musings

Following are actual answers from students on music exams. Although they may not fit into the category of “traditional” quotes, they are utterances (of a sort) and they are memorable!

Thanks go to Deb for sending these to us.


  • “The principle singer of 19th century opera was called pre-Madonna.”
  • “It is easy to teach anyone to play the maracas. Just grip the neck and shake him in rhythm.”
  • “Gregorian chant has no music, just singers singing the same lines.”
  • “Sherbet composed the Unfinished Symphony.”
  • “At one time singers had to use musicians to accompany them. Since synthesizers came along, singers can now play with themselves.”
  • “All female parts were sung by castrati. We don’t know exactly what they sounded like because there are no known descendants.”
  • “Young scholars have expressed their rapture for the Bronze Lullaby, the Taco Bell Cannon, Beethoven’s Erotica, Tchaikovsky Cracknutter Suite, and Gershwin’s Rap City in Blue.”
  • “Music sung by two people at the same time is called a duel; if they sing with music it is called Acapulco.”
  • “A virtuoso is a musician with real high morals.”
  • “Contralto is a low sort of music that only ladies sing.”
  • “Diatonic is a low calorie Schweppes.”
  • “Probably the most marvelous fugue was the one between the Hatfields and the McCoys.”
  • “A harp is a nude piano.”
  • “The main trouble with a French Horn is that it is too tangled up.”
  • “An interval in music is the distance from one piano to the next.”
  • “The correct way to find the key to a piece of music is to use a pitchfork.”
  • “Agitato is a state of mind when one’s finger slips in the middle of playing a piece.”
  • “Refrain means don’t do it. A refrain in music is the part you’d better not try to sing.”
  • “I know what a sextet is but I’d rather not say.”
  • “Most authorities agree that music of antiquity was written long ago.”
  • “My favorite composer was Opus. Agnus Dei was a woman composer famous for her church music.”
  • “Henry Purcell was a well-known composer few people have ever heard of.”
  • “Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic.”
  • “Rock Monanoff was a famous post-romantic composer of piano concerti.”