Friday, 13 August 2010

On Beethoven and an Airplane..

This is probably a gratuitous post, so bear with me.

The first of the two is 'An Ode to Joy', by Beethoven. Like Fur Elise, this song also sounds immediately familiar even if you've never heard or paid attention to it before. The first time I really paid attention to it was at Aero India 2007. I'm sure you're not really surprised that there is an aviation connection here as well. I was at Yelahanka Air Force Station watching the afternoon round of flying displays. To be frank, i wasn't paying all that much attention to it since i'd already seen most of the flying routines in the morning, as well as on the day before. The American contingent was flying their F-16s and F-18s, which were doing pretty much routine stuff over airfield, and the commentary over the public address system was droning on with nonsense along the likes of "These airplanes have been the defenders of freedom since 1970s", etc. There was one plane i had missed, the Russian MiG-29 OVT, a thrust vectored version of the standard MiG-29, and i was really looking forward to what it had got to show.

The MiG doing its thing.. :)

The MiG's turn came, and the public address system sputtered back into life again, and started playing this tune. This amazing, vaguely familiar classical tune, timed to the aircraft's flying display. That display, to date, was one of the most beautiful things i'd ever seen, thanks in no small part to the music. The song was improbably slow for an airshow, but it was in fact a brilliant choice for a plane that had amazing slow-speed maneuvers to show off, including at one point stopping in mid-air at the start of a tail-slide. The crowd roared in applause for the lone Russian pilot who flew away from there as the star of the day, and the whole episode left the song in my mind. Yet i had no clue what the song was, for the next three and a half years.

I hunted for it high and low, and while people seemed to have heard the tune, no one could tell me its name. I even tried a website where you could hum and based on the tune the search engine would try and find your song. to no avail, though. until about a few months back, i was at a small party with my friends, and was humming this tune to myself when my erstwhile housemate nikhil, again, recognized the tune but couldnt remember its name. But his curiosity got piqued, and eventually he managed to track the song down for me a coupla days after that. I have posted above the version that is used as the national anthem of the European Union. The original i heard had no lyrics. The day after i finally found the song, i was telling my colleague benjamin the story of how long it took me to find it. Turns out i should've told him a long long time ago, since he blurted out the name the moment i hummed the tune. that song was right under my nose, in the next cubicle to mine to be precise, and i spent ages looking everywhere else.

I love the song, and i like the story, so i thought i'd share.

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