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Music / Carmina Burana

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Scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff between 1935 and 1936, based on a collection of medieval poems. Notably they had been put to music before but in Orff's time nobody could read medieval music notation. This is the original, or at least interpreted, medieval notation. Now we can and suffice it to say, the original melodies are rather different from what Orff came up with. The piece lasts about an hour and has serious moments, goofy moments, and more than its share that are pure Narm. The lyrics cover all aspects of medieval life from sex, to drinking to the plight of sentient, talking roasted swans. If you've ever heard them and think that they don't sound a bit like a gambling garden party, you're right. As an unfortunate footnote, it remains the most famous piece of music to emerge from Nazi Germany.

It's the money part, "O Fortuna", that people remember, due to it being one of the the most famous examples of Ominous Latin Chanting as well as one of the most overused trailer songs in history, a Standard Snippet for whenever we want to suggest an Epic Movie. It's also a fine example of Canis Latinicus; not only is it in Medieval Latin, which differs greatly from the classical language, but it's also sung with what can best be described as a French accent, stressing the last syllables of each word. In proper Latin, the stress on each word is generally placed on the penultimate syllable, but that doesn't fit well into the music.

Carmina Burana can be used for a little bit of musical snobbery, distinguishing the people who recognize the work for what it isnote  from those who only know it as the music from The Omen (1976) (or Excalibur, or Die Hard 2) or indeed from the Old Spice TV advert for aftershave.note 

Often parodied.

Contains examples of:

  • A Cappella: "Si puer cum puella" is sung by an unaccompanied male chorus.
  • AcCENT upon the Wrong SylLABle: For the benefit of the music, the adaptation of the poem "O Fortuna" ignores the rules of Latin.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: At one point, the point of view switches to a roasting swan, complaining about its fate.
  • Bawdy Song: Given where it's adapted from, there are several moments in the music that are irreverent and bawdy.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Since it is an adaptation of medieval poems, it retains the original Latin, as well as the German and French languages of that time.
  • Lady Luck: "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" (Fortune, Empress of the World) is an extended prayer to Luck.
  • List Song: "In Taberna Quando Sumus", contains a lengthy list of everyone currently drinking: the cleric, the soldier, the quick, the slow, whites, blacks, fools, scholars, the sister, brother, mother, that guy over there, and so on. All sung in an appropriately ludicrous tempo.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "In Taverna", dedicated to drinking songs, including a song which lists all those to be found in the pub in question, plus a song from the point of the roasted swan on the spit. The Abbot of Cucany leads the drinkers.
  • Sexy Priest: "Altercatio Phyllidis et Flora" is an adaptation of a Latin poem about whether knights or priests make better lovers, with the latter coming out on top (so to speak).
  • Worth It: At one moment adapted from a Bavarian poem (translated from Old High German):
    "Were the world all mine
    From the ocean to the Rhine,
    I would forego its charms
    If the Queen of England
    should lie in my arms."