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Thursday 5th August 2003

Et Viola!

It's the most reviled instrument in the modern orchestra. Violas - known to their critics as 'diesel violins' - have often been seen as the clunky poor relation to the show stealing violin section.

Now there is a national shortage of viola players. But fans of the instrument are fighting back, starting with a special concet in Edinburgh this weekend featuring new viola music to raise the profile of the cause.
Here are a choice of the best viola jokes as chosen by the Viola Section of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

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What's the difference between a viola and a coffin?
The coffin has the dead person on the inside.


What's the difference between a violin and a viola?
The viola burns longer.
The viola holds more beer.
You can tune the violin.


Radio presenter, Tim Pollard, on BBC Radio Jersey, when introducing a piece of music by the well-known British composer, Eric Coates, said: "All Eric Coates ever wanted to do was to write music to entertain. But for a while he was a professional viola player."


A violinist noticed at the end of each rehearsal break, one of the violists would look at the inside flap of his jacket before he sat down to resume rehearsal. This continued for several decades, and the violinist became quite curious about it. One day, during hot weather, the violist took off his jacket and went off on break. The violinist waited until everyone was off the platform, looked around, and sneaked over to the jacket. He pulled back the flap and saw a little note pinned on the inside. It read: "viola left hand, bow right."


What's the difference between a viola and a trampoline?
You take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline. 


What's the difference between a viola and an onion?
No one cries when you cut up a viola.


What's the definition of "perfect pitch?"
Throwing a viola into a bin without hitting the rim. 


Why do violists stand for long periods outside people's houses?
They can't find the key and they don't know when to come in. 


What's the difference between a seamstress and a violist?
The seamstress tucks up the frills. 


What's the difference between a washing machine and a violist?
Vibrato.


Why do so many people take an instant dislike to the viola?
It saves time.


How can you tell when a violist is playing out of tune?
The bow is moving.


Why is playing the viola like peeing in your pants?
They both give you a nice warm feeling without making any sound.


Why is a viola solo like a bomb?
By the time you hear it, it's too late to do anything about it.


What's the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a crushed viola in the road?
Skid marks before the skunk.


How do you get a violin to sound like a viola?
Sit in the back and don't play.


If you throw a violist and a soprano off a cliff, which one would hit the ground first? (two answers)


The violist. The soprano would have to stop halfway down to ask directions.


A conductor and a violist are standing in the middle of the road. which one do you run over first, and why?

The conductor. Business before pleasure.


What is the range of a Viola?
As far as you can kick it.


What do a SCUD missile and a viola player have in common?
They're both offensive and inaccurate.


Why are violas so large?
It's an optical illusion. It's not that the violas are large; just that the viola players' heads are so small.


What's the difference between a chain saw and a viola?
If you absolutely had to, you could use a chain saw in a string quartet.


What is the definition of a cluster chord?
A viola section playing on the C string.


If you're lost in the desert, what do you aim for? A good viola player, a bad viola player or an oasis?
The bad viola player. The other two are only figments of your imagination.


Why can't you hear a viola on a digital recording?
Recording technology has reached such an advanced level of development that all extraneous noise is eliminated.


Why can't a violist play with a knife in his back?
Because he can't lean back in his chair. 


What is the similarity between a violist and a prostitute?
Both are paid to fake climaxes.


How do you get a dozen violists to play in tune?
1) Shoot 11 of them.
2) Shoot all of them.
3) Who the hell wants a dozen violists?


What's the latest crime wave in New York City?
Drive-by viola recitals.


How many violists does it take to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies?
Ten. One to stir the batter and nine to peel the M & M's.


What is the main requirement at the "International Viola Competition?"
"Hold the viola from memory. "


How do you keep a violist from drowning?
Take your foot off his head.


Entry Exam For Viola Players to The BBC Symphony Orchestra
The pass mark is 10% but be careful, over 45% and you are overqualified.


Who wrote the following:
a) Beethoven's Symphony No. 6
b) Fauré's Requiem
c) Wagner's Ring Cycle
[5 pts.]


Tschaikovsky wrote 6 symphonies including Symphony no. 4. Name the other five.
[5 pts.]


Explain "counterpoint" or write your name on the reverse of the paper.
[10 pts.]


Which of the following would you tuck under you chin?
a) a timpani
b) an organ
c) a 'cello
d) a viola
[1 pt.]


Can you explain "sonata form"? (Answer yes or no.)
[5 pts.]


Which of the following literary works was made the subject of a Verdi opera?
a) First among Equals -- Jeffrey Archer
b) Macbeth -- William Shakespeare
c) Noddy and Big Ears -- Enid Blyton
[5 pts.]


Domenico Scarlatti wrote 555 harpsichord sonatas for which instrument?
[5 pts.]


Arrange the following movements in order of speed, starting with the slowest first.
a) Quickly
b) Slowly
c) Very Quickly
d) At a Moderate Pace
[4 pts.]


Where would you normally expect to find the conductor during a performance?
[5 pts.]


Which of the following wrote incidental music to A Midsummer Night's Dream?
a) Des O'Connor
b) Mickey Mouse
c) Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy
d) Terry Wogan
[5 pts.]


Which of the following is the odd one out?
a) Sir Colin Davis
b) Andrew Davis
c) Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
d) Desmond Lynham
[5 pts.]


Arrange the following words into the name of a well known Puccini opera.
Bohème, La
[5 pts.]


Within five minutes, how long is Chopin's Minute Waltz?
[5 pts.]


From which of the following countries did Richard Strauss come?
a) Venezuela
b) Sri Lanka
c) Germany
d) Japan
[5 pts.]


For what town were Haydn's "Paris" Symphonies written?
[5 pts.]


Which is the odd one out?
a) Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet -- Tchaikovsky
b) Romeo and Juliet -- Berlioz
c) Romeo and Juliet Ballet -- Prokofiev
d) Ten Green Bottles -- anon.
[5 pts.]


From which song do the following lines come?
"God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen."
[5 pts.]


Spell the following musical terms.
allegro
rallentando
crotchet
pizzicato
intermezzo
[5 pts.]


Tosca is a character found in which Puccini opera?
[5 pts.]


Arrange the following letters to form the abbreviation for a well known British broadcasting corporation.
C, B, B.


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