75 Signs You Might be a Theory Geek

  1. you whistle in style brisé.
  2. your favorite pickup line is, "What's your favorite augmented sixth chord?"
  3. your second favorite pickup line is, "Would you like to raise my leading tone?"
  4. you have ever played the how-many-episodes-is-too-many-episodes fugue game.
  5. you have a poster of Allen Forte in your room.
  6. you know who Allen Forte is.
  7. you dream in four parts.
  8. your biological clock follows a non-retrogradable isorhythm.
  9. you can improvise 16th-century counterpoint with no trouble, but you frequently forget how to tie your shoes.
  10. you will look at a piece by Bach and say, "You know, I think he could have gotten a better effect this way . . ."
  11. you expected something quite different out of The Matrix.
  12. you can answer your phone with a tonal or a real answer.
  13. you like to tease your friends and loved ones with deceptive cadences.
  14. you know how large a major 23rd is without having to count.
  15. you only drink fifths, and then you laugh at the pun.
  16. you feel the need to end Tchaikovsky's Pathétique Symphony with a picardy third.
  17. your favorite characteristic of Brahms's music is the subcutaneous motivic play.
  18. instead of counting sheep, you count sequences.
  19. you find free counterpoint too liberal.
  20. Moussorgsky's "Hopak" gives you nightmares.
  21. you wonder what a Danish sixth would sound like.
  22. you long for the good old days of movable G-clefs.
  23. the Corelli Clash gives you goosebumps. Every time.
  24. you can hear an enharmonic modulation coming a mile away.
  25. you can hear Berg's lover's dog coming a mile away.
  26. you have had to be forced to stop labeling motives.
  27. you confuse fishsticks with ground bass.
  28. you found No. 27 funny.
  29. you have ever quoted Walter Piston.
  30. you like to march to the rhythm of L'histoire du soldat.
  31. your license plate says: PNTONL.
  32. you have ever defended yourself with, "But Gesualdo did it!"
  33. you have ever tried to do a Schenkerian analysis on "Three Blind Mice."
  34. you have ever tried to do a Schenkerian analysis on 4'33''.
  35. you have ever had a gebrauchsmusik party.
  36. you have ever tried to hop onto the omnibus.
  37. you like to wake up to a Petrushkated version of "Reveille."
  38. you lament the decline of serialism.
  39. you know what the ninth overtone of the harmonic series is off the top of your head.
  40. you keep the writings of Boethius on the coffee table.
  41. you have ever dressed up as counterpoint for Halloween.
  42. you have ever written a musical palindrome and given it a witty title.
  43. you can name ten of Palestrina's contemporaries.
  44. you have ever found a typographical error in a score by Ives, Nancarrow, or Babbitt.
  45. you have ever heard a wrong note in a performance of a composition by Ives, Nancarrow, or Babbitt.
  46. you already sensed that if this list had been written by Bartók, this would be the funniest item.
  47. you enjoy the tang of a tritone whenever you can.
  48. you've let the rule of the octave determine how you go from one event of the day to the next.
  49. you have ever played through your music as if the fingering markings were figured bass symbols.
  50. you suspiciously check all the music you play for dangling sevenths.
  51. you have devised your own tuning method.
  52. you keep a notebook of useful diminutions.
  53. you have composed variations on a theme by Anton Webern.
  54. you know the difference between a Courante and a Corrente.
  55. you have trained your dog to jump through a flaming circle of fifths.
  56. you have ever used the word fortspinnung in polite conversation.
  57. you feel cheated by evaded cadences.
  58. you organize phone numbers based on their prime form.
  59. you find it amusing to refer to you ear-training course sections as your "pitch classes."
  60. every now and again you like to kick back and play a tune in hypophrygian mode.
  61. you wonder why there aren't more types of seventh chords.
  62. you wish you had twelve fingers.
  63. you like polytonal music because, hey, the more keys the merrier.
  64. you abbreviate your shopping list using figured bass symbols.
  65. you always make sure to invert your counterpoint, just in case.
  66. you have ever told a joke with a punchline of: because it was polyphonic!
  67. you have ever named a pet, instrument, boat, gun or child after Zarlino.
  68. you have an <0 1 4> tattoo.
  69. your lips may say, "perfect fourth," but in your heart it will always be "diatessaron."
  70. you have ever said, "Yes, didn't Scriabin use that sonority in . . ."
  71. you know dirty acronyms for the order of sharps.
  72. you can name relatives of the "Grandmother Chord."
  73. you're still wondering why I haven't included the "must-resolve-the- dominant-seventh-before-going-to-bed" indicator.
  74. you can not only identify any one of Bach's 371 Harmonized Chorales by ear, but you also know what page it is on in the Riemenschneider edition and how many suspensions it has in the first four bars.
  75. you got more than half of the jokes on this list.

by Jonathan Howard Katz, IU Class of 2001