I'd always assumed that "The music will tell you what to do"
started as irony or sarcasm by an English Country dancer. For those
unfamiliar with English Country dance, the tune and dance are a unit, and
the same tune is almost always played for each repetition (with lovely
opportunities for variations). People who use the phrase seriously may
not have thought about what it means, may be repeating what they assume
is experienced-dancer wisdom, or may feel that the rhythm and spirit of
the music will be sufficient reminder. But it's far cry from the
original, where the turn of musical phrase becomes associated with
As an aside, similar verbal & social factors are at work at one of
my pet irritations: "The exception proves the rule" cited as
justification for a rule that has just been shown not to apply
universally. It shows the human reluctance to give up a settled idea for
facts, and the equally human trait of rejecting the work of logic and
thinking about what one is saying for the ease of repeating some familiar
Logically and factually, that meaning makes no sense. It probably
resulted from the changing use of the word "prove", which in this phrase
was obviously employed in its old sense of "test". A few examples of the
old usage persist. For Americans, a military Proving Ground is a weapons
testing area, and there is no confusion about that meaning. In cooking,
one still "proofs" yeast, mixing it with warm water and a pinch of sugar
to confirm its activity.
Ah - words. And I've been waiting for someone to say that,
whatever its origin, the term jetee in SCD has a specific meaning - if
you will, jargon, a technical term in that area. Its origin may be
informative but doesn't change its current meaning.
Apologies for wandering off SCD for so long.
Miriam Mueller - San Francisco
On Thu, 30 Sep 2004 09:52:59 +0200 Martin <email@example.com>
writes: > Richard wrote: > I sometimes wonder why we bother to have music, since some > authorities seem > to insist on our ignoring it. Are these also the people that say > "The music > will tell you" ? > > > Martin, > in Grenoble, France. > > http://perso.wanadoo.fr/scots.in.france/scd.htm > > > >