Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Conquer constipation with Brahms!

The Japan Philharmonic Orchestra is reaching a younger, tech-savvy audience by marketing music in "prescriptions" that can be applied to daily life. The Japan Pill-Harmonic program sells "pills" -- mini SD cards loaded with classical music -- to customers in small envelopes like the ones used for prescription drugs. You identify your condition; the Pill-harmonic prescribes a remedy.


Thus the "Spring" section of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" can be used to restore beautiful skin, the overture to Rossini's "The Barber of Seville" enhances appetite -- it may indeed, as its rotund composer was a famous gourmand -- and Barber's Adagio for Strings induces a good cry. (No surprise, as it's been a tearjerker in movies from "Platoon" to "The Elephant Man.")

Here's the general idea:



A few of the suggestions strike me as bizarre: Dukas' "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," based on the fable of a hapless character who makes a terrible decision, is billed as a way to...help someone make a decision. Mahler's Tenth Symphony provides "pleasant sleep," though it churns up profound emotions that aren't always peaceful. The Ride of the Valkyries from Wagner's "Die Walkure" presumably makes one "feel male," but all the singing Valkyries are female.

And listening to the first movement of Brahms' First Symphony supposedly relieves constipation, although that piece recycles themes at great length. (I don't agree with Tchaikovsky's assessment of Brahms as "a giftless bastard," but the music doesn't exactly surge forward.) I couldn't find any explanation of how the Pill-harmonic made these distinctions, but Brahms would probably be amused.

This advertising campaign won a top prize in June at the Cannes Lions 60th International Festival of Creativity. I'm all for increasing the size of the classical music audience, and if this works, I hope American orchestras will consider it. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a spot of indigestion. The final movement of Haydn's C Major Cello Concerto ought to clear that right up.

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