Think you know your P.D.Q. Bach history and trivia? Take this quiz and test your knowledge of the life and music of the world’s most justifiably neglected composer. Extra credit for completing it while wearing a blindfold. (Special thanks to Professor Phyllis Chinn for her scholarly contributions and Susan Peterson for the concept.)
“Say what???” Usually when this question is asked about the lyrics of P.D.Q. Bach music, it is because the listener is surprised at the composer’s choice of words, which can range from the unconventional to the downright weird. Sometimes, however, it is asked because the listener is unable to hear the words properly and is blissfully unaware of what is being sung. This can happen for several reasons, such as the different parts of a chorus singing the words at different times, or the words being in a foreign language, or in more than one foreign language. Examples of all of these cases are presented below, although since the usually German lyrics of P.D.Q. Bach pieces were usually translated into usually English by P.D.Q. Bach’s publisher and usually drinking companion Jonathan “Boozy” Hawkes, it is up to the reader to decide which ones are the ones in the foreign languages.
So here are the words to several P.D.Q. Bach compositions whose words have been described as difficult to understand more often than any others, or at least more than any others that we happened to think of at the moment.
- Monk’s Aria
- Two Madrigals from “The Triumphs of Thusnelda”
- A Consort of Choral Christmas Carols
- Cantata: “Blaus Gras” (“Bluegrass” Cantata)