Merdle and Haggard Do Science

Merdle: Hey honey! I heard the Cleveland Orchestra won't be wearing tuxedos, but solid-colored shirts instead. No ties!

Haggard: Ooh! That makes them more appealing. Maybe we should go.


Then, there’s this:

It’s hard to pinpoint what about the Cleveland Orchestra’s concert Friday caused it to sell out, given that almost everything about it was different.

I suppose I should have italicized “almost everything,” but why italicize when you can give a picture in its place?

Figure 1. Product placement (free of charge)

For one experiment, there were a lot of variables.

Which means: there was another experiment without any variables. In other words, there was a control, i.e., a solid base of knowledge with which to compare and contrast the effect of the variables. Though, you’d want to limit them to, oh I don’t know, one variable, in order to isolate the results. But, hey, that’s good science and we don’t want that in our music, do we?

Anyway, let’s follow this hypothetical experiment.


Variable 1:

Was it the earlier start?

Nope. You disproved that one, remember?

Many [...] lingered, purchasing drinks and mingling at club-like tables and lounges around the dimly-lit foyer.

Sounds like they had plenty of time on their hands. That couldn’t be it.


Variable 2:

The informal dress of the players?

Hmmm. See above Merdle and Haggard sarcasm.


Variable 3:

[Was] it the prospect of a post-concert reception and appearance by world percussion ensemble Beat the Donkey?

Figure 2. Hard to imagine a better reason to go to the symphony than Beat the Donkey

But, as our author later showed, this was indeed a legitimate possibility.

At first, the post-concert party looked ready to backfire. Most of Severance Hall came flooding into the Grand Foyer, forcing patrons to jockey for limited space.

I’ll definitely keep that one in mind when trying to decipher our experimental data. I should have italicized “experimental.”

Figure 3. Suggesting where this is all going

Variable 4:

The short [...] program?

People clamoring for the donkey beaters, drinking themselves into stupors, uncomfortably standing in a dimly-lit foyer...

Yeah. A short program could attract patrons. Though, their priorities don’t seem to be in line with the act of attending an orchestra concert—listening to music. How ‘bout that, then? What about the music?


The control group:

The [...] all-Beethoven program?

So, to ask the question again: what packed the house that evening? Oh yeah, the one thing that symphonies resort to when they need to pack a house.


Haggard: I also heard they were going to play nothing but Beethoven.

Merdle: I heard that too. Last week, in fact. And the week before that. And the week before that.

Haggard: These things sound like a broken Glass record.


Gustav said...

Not just an all-beethoven concert, but Beethoven 5. And probably his second most popular concerto (the 4th PC). That's the stuff of packed houses.

Although, I think the after concert entertainment is a good idea. There is so much music that has no home since it's not large enough for the symphony, or scored for standard standing chamber ensembles. With a little ingenuity you could do kind of what this critic infers -- create a nightclub-esque atmosphere, but for music buffs. If the drinks were anywhere near reasonable, I'd probably like to stay. Though, generally restaurants, bars and clubs associated with museums and symphonies tend to gouge those patrons. And I'm just not in the gougeable tax bracket yet.