Skip to content
Home » Your Ears Deceive You: Emi Ferguson at TEDxBeaconStreet (Transcript)

Your Ears Deceive You: Emi Ferguson at TEDxBeaconStreet (Transcript)

Emi Ferguson – Juilliard-trained flutist and educator: Well, I’m so thrilled to be here because I grew up right here in Brookline and spent much of my childhood right across the street at the Brookline Music School. So I ‘m thrilled to be here today to talk to you guys about something that nobody talked to me enough about when I was growing up.

Now, I may be a classical musician, but I’m also a serious lover of pop music and often get asked what I feel the difference between the two is. Now for me, in the 20th century, it’s roughly straightforward. We usually refer to classical compositions by their composer: We have Beethoven’s 5th symphony. But we usually refer to pop music not by its composer – Max Martin wrote “Baby One More Time” – no, but we refer to it by its performer. But before the 20th century, things weren’t quite so cut-and-dried.

Each year, I begin my classes at Juilliard and the University of Buffalo by playing my students a piece of music and asking them to tell me what genre and time period it comes from. (Music) So, whenever I play this piece, the immediate response I get from my students is that this has to be classical music, and it’s from the baroque period. And they’re right. I gave them a little hint by playing my baroque flute, but they’re totally right, and they’re incredibly shocked when I reveal to them the original lyrics of this song: “Once, twice, thrice, I Julia try’d. The scornfull puss as oft deny’d, and since I cannot better thrive, I’ll cringe to ne’er a bitch alive. So kiss my ass, disdainful sow, good claret is my mistress now.”

So, these are the original lyrics, and my students cannot believe that this is classical music anymore. They tell me, “There’s no way this is classical music, because these lyrics are more like pop lyrics; they’re far too lewd and inappropriate to be classical music, which is a serious, studied music, one that your parents make you listen to, where performers are always formally dressed, audience members are gray-haired, and there are previously dictated places about when and how you can enjoy the music. God forbid that any of you clap at the wrong time. Right? You’ve been there.

Pages: First |1 | ... | Next → | Last | View Full Transcript