Friday Quickie: I. Did. Not. Know. That.

Allan Kozinn has a thoughtful little piece musing about the names of classical ensembles.

Would They Sound as Sweet by Other Names?
(Allan Kozinn, New York Times, 5/11/2010)

Julliard, you see, has a new period instrument group called Julliard415. Kozinn explains:

...recognized 415 as an allusion to Baroque pitch. (The note A is believed to have been tuned, on average, to something closer to 415 cycles per second than to today’s standard, 440 cycles; the letter A is highlighted in the Juilliard415 logo as a clue.)

Ah, yes. The old typographical/stylistic-design element ploy. So it's really


eh? Or something like that. A little forced, but not bad.

Indeed, Kozinn likes it (as a name) far better than that of another Julliard ensemble:

Ensemble ACJW, on the other hand, is a terrible name. When the riddle of its initials is solved, it is about the corporate sponsorship of an educational program: a worthy cause, but something concertgoers find mildly interesting at best. I am all for arts education, and the support of it, but even having heard and written about several ACJW programs, I cannot remember those initials or what they stand for without looking them up.

Yeah, I'd have to agree with that, too; this is a pretty good assessment.

The article then goes into a mildly lengthy exploration of other music entities' names, including this helpful tidbit:

Pop musicians have always had a healthy regard for names. They understand that a name is an opportunity to create an image and that it makes sense for that image to convey something about their intentions.

Fair enough, I suppose, although Beethoven did a pretty good job at establishing himself as a brand.

Figure 1: In America, shirt with picture of Beethoven made for dog to wear buys you!

The Beatles went through several relatively bland names before settling on that of an insect (inspired by Buddy Holly’s Crickets),

Figure 2: "All the News That's Fit to Print"

Gosh! But that's not how you spell "beetles"!

with a spelling tweak to make a pun on beat.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The New York Times.