P. D. Q. Bach is a fairly obscure member of the Bach family (being the 21st of Johann Sebastian Bach's 20 children) who lived from 1807-1742(?). As with much of his family, he began a career as a musician; unlike much of his family, he was both Giftedly Bad and extremely prolific. After his death he was promptly forgotten by history; what we do know of him is primarily the work of one professor Peter Schickele of the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople. Schickele has spent much of his career not only researching the life of this obscure historical figure, but also discovering his works and performing them for modern audiences.
...Okay, fine, you got us: the man never existed. Schickele made him up as a disguise for his own compositions, which are parodies of typical classical conventions and compositions. The results, though of subjective merit on purely musical terms, are unconventional, eclectic and quite popular on the comedy circuit, performed anywhere from high school campuses to the Boston Pops, long-time seat of famed composer John Williams.
PDQ's work provides examples of
- Affectionate Parody
- Anachronism Stew
- Anti Christmas Carol: Throw the Yule Log On Uncle John is about the one drunk relative who always shows up to ruin Christmas dinner, in addition to gleefully abusing the comma for fun and profit.
Ten o'clock on Christmas morn and all the guests are coming to the door,
Ten o'clock on Christmas morn and Uncle John is already on the floor.
Though the weather's bitter cold there's not a frown to mar the festive mood,
Wait till they discover that old Uncle John has eaten all the food!
- Anti-Love Song: My Bonny Lass She Smelleth, My Jane, and many many others.
- Boastful Rap: in "Classical Rap": "I'm the apex, I'm the best. I'm considerably better than all the rest."
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes
- Everything Is an Instrument: A dog toy with a wind-up aspect that changed its' pitch depending on how fast you pulled on it was once used as a major part of one musical piece. Other instruments have included plumbing parts, foghorns, balloons, a bicycle, the Polizeiposaune (a trombone with a siren stuck in the bell), the Pümpenflötte (a flute connected to a bicycle pump) and so on and so forth.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Everything sounds more classical-musical in Italian (consider a symphony movement called "Come un pipistrello fuori dall' inferno").
- Falling Chandelier of Doom
- Giftedly Bad
- Hook Hand
- Incredibly Long Note
- I Shall Taunt You: "The Echo Sonata for Two Unfriendly Groups of Instruments", in which the brass section sits in a balcony and does everything it can to screw with the woodwinds, such as ignoring their cue and playing "Nanny Nanny Boo-Boo".
- Morality Ballad
- Medium Awareness
- Musical Gag
- Musicalis Interruptus
- Overly Long Gag
- Overly Prepared Gag: "Please, Kind Sir"
- Parody Names
- Shave and a Haircut
- So Bad It's Good: invoked.
- Viewers Are Geniuses
- Wanton Cruelty to the Common Comma: an entire song built around this: by moving the pause / comma around in the phrase, Throw the Yule Log On, Uncle John becomes "Throw the Yule log on Uncle John."
- Westminster Chimes: The Fugue in A Major from "The Short-Tempered Clavier" uses this complete with twelve o'clock chime.
- Xenophone: The works of PDQ Bach often require the use of unconventional instruments, like the "tromboon" (Trombone with a bassoon reed)
- Or the "lasso de amore" (a flexible tube which is swung by one end, sending wind through the reed in the other).
- X Meets Y: Sometimes called the "'Weird Al' of classical music" even though he came first