Adopting the Ugly Pet

I am irked that the 20th century art-music snoots seem to have adopted the viola as their special mascot — and purely because of its rejected status in the standard classical world. There’s no particular appreciation for the sound of the viola, the way it can melt into your soft tissue like a combination of Aretha Franklin hitting a low note and a good, sweet Irish coffee. They just like it because it’s the rejected Ugly Pet and thus appropriate for their clove-cigarette status as self-consciously weird.

They’ve just adopted it because they think that befriending the ugly instrument will make them look deep.

News flash: it’s not ugly. It’s ugly the way that Sophia Loren was called “Stuzzicadente” (“toothpick”) when she was a kid, and the way that an idiot movie director once said of her when she was a teenager that “there is no way to photograph this girl and make her look good.” It’s ugly the way that Steve Perry’s school nickname was “Beaky” and the way that he said of himself that he was just a “skinny, big-nosed kid” when he was a teen.

Yes, you read that right. This was called ugly. And so was this.

And so is this.

This leaves as the only possible conclusion that the majority of sighted and hearing people are somehow both blind and deaf. And more revealingly, that “ugly” is actually a synonym for “doesn’t blend in,” despite the fact that beauty requires that one stand out! Francis Bacon said it: “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”

If you can’t hear the beauty of my instrument, you’re nuts. You (points to one side of the room) stop treating it like the Ugly Stepsister, and you over there (points to the other side of the room) stop treating it like the Ugly Pet. Stop writing boring music for it that gives it little to do, and stop writing creepy bump-and-squeak music that puts it center stage, and just play Vaga Luna on the damned thing!

Advertisements