E Pluribus Memorexus: Inaugural Committee Admits that the Original Classical Piece Was Taped Not Live

milli_vanillin_yoyoma_090120_1300w220px-ashley_simpson_2008The truth is out. The inaugural classical piece by Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriella Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill was made to look live but was not. The music that America heard was a tape of a performance of “Air and Simple Gifts” by John Williams done days earlier. This version of a classical lip sync puts Ma and Perlman in the same category as Milli Vanilli and Ashlee Simpson.

The word is that the musicians decided that the cold weather would make it difficult to keep their instruments in tone.

Perlman insists “it would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way. This occasion’s got to be perfect. You can’t have any slip-ups.” Finally, Milli Vanilli is vindicated.

Of course, the the Marine Band, the youth choruses and the Navy Band Sea Chanters performed live. Aretha Franklin sang live but the music and voices were . . . you guessed it, taped.

It was interesting to watch Ma nodding at various people during the performance. It now turns out that he could have taken out his cellphone and taken some pictures without an interruption in the music.

Well at least we know it was really Obama and Roberts authentically messing up the oath.

For a tape of the lip sinc, click here.

For the full story, click here.

26 thoughts on “E Pluribus Memorexus: Inaugural Committee Admits that the Original Classical Piece Was Taped Not Live”

  1. Commentary: Obama breaks his own rules already

    By Campbell Brown
    January 23, 2009

    (CNN) — Just a couple of nights ago, we heaped praise on the new president for announcing what he called a new era of openness, where in his administration, transparency would rule the day.

    And the lobbyists that he was so critical of during the campaign? Well, he told us they will now face even tougher new restrictions.

    President Obama: “The executive order on ethics I will sign shortly represents a clean break from business as usual. As of today, lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any other administration in history. If you are a lobbyist entering my administration, you will not be able to work on matters you lobbied on, or in the agencies you lobbied during the previous two years. When you leave government, you will not be able to lobby my administration for as long as I am president.”

    Well, anyway that’s what President Obama said two days ago. But as we first told you Thursday Obama already wants and will get an exception to his own new rule.

    You see, what happened is, there is this former lobbyist for a big defense contractor called Raytheon. Obama wants him to be deputy defense secretary. So, he wants a waiver to his own rule – now.

    That means Obama is saying he will put tough new restrictions on lobbyists, except when he won’t.

    Really? Is this how it is going to be? Just three days into this administration?

  2. Why worry about this,when there are bigger issues in the United States?
    Good Grief!!!

  3. I use JT’s post as a jumping off point for two things I think are real problems in this society. 1. The quest for “perfection”. Supposedly, the performance had to be perfect. What does perfect mean? A live performance filled with passion, played with skill– that could have, is even likely to have mistakes in it. So what? I just heard the most bold, inventive piece for the viola played with great skill. There was a mistake during the performance. I wouldn’t have missed that concert for anything. A technically perfect performance played without soul cannot be said to be perfect. I heard a sound engineer speak to this topic concerning programs that can pretty much change your voice to make it sound “perfect”. He said the best singers don’t want the quirks taken out of their voice. Perfection doesn’t mean flawless, although sometimes things are flawless. We are losing our ability to see into the depth of a thing.

    2. We are also losing authenticity. FFLEO made many good suggestions on this point. The other day when I spoke with the expert on programming “personalities” for the web I felt queezy. The algorithms can fool people and people are not told they are interacting with a fake “person”. I don’t think this is right. I don’t see that it’s wrong to fake things, but this should only be done with everyone in on the faking. Otherwise, it’s manipulation of others. I worry that we have far too much of this falseness in our lives. I think it is harmful to the best in each of us. We need to be more authentically who we are, not less.

  4. mespo,

    “and exceeded the efforts of the poet which should have been taped so we could have fast forwarded her.”

    I completely agree. I wonder how many cases of near frostbite the poet was responsible for during her reading. I would like to have heard the concurrent comments of her ‘captivated’ live audience.

  5. Clinton’s ‘Smart Power’ Slogan Is Just Plain Dumb, Experts Say

    Professionals say Hillary Clinton’s catchphrase to sum up her foreign policy is unclear, ripe for misinterpretation, and just plain dumb.

    By Stephen Clark

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    The catchphrase is unclear and ripe for misinterpretation, a group of experts told this source, “Sounds like something out of grade school”.

    Clinton, who was sworn in as secretary of state on Wednesday, defined “smart power” at her Senate confirmation hearing as using the full range of tools available to the United States, including diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural tools.

    “With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of foreign policy,” she said.

    But the Pros know a bad meaningless slogan when they hear one.

  6. I thought JT’s initial take was funny, but can agree that weather can be hell on stringed instruments. You tuned your instrument ten minutes before, but the bitter cold contracts your strings causing the E string to become a G#. I don’t think anyone doubts these instrumentalists abilities, and given possible acoustic problems it probably made more sense to pipe it in lest the ceremony be ruined by horrifying noises coming from gifted musicians.

    Still, it would have been hilarious if during the “performance” Yo Yo Ma had indeed taken a call on his cell.

  7. LOL! Funny how Obama’s “Executive Order” to close Gitmo was really an “Executive Order” to creat a plan to create a plan for the closing of Gitmo.

  8. 9/11 Families Outraged by Obama Call to Suspend Guantanamo War Crimes Trials

    Families of victims of terrorist attacks say they are outraged by President Obama’s call to halt the trials of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Family members of people killed on September 11, 2001, and in other terror attacks say they are outraged by President Obama’s draft order calling for the suspension of war crimes trials of prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay.

    “To me it’s beyond comprehension that they would take the side of the terrorists,” said Peter Gadiel, whose son, James, was killed at the World Trade Center on 9/11. “Many of these people have been released and been right back killing, right back at their terrorist work again.”

  9. I actually prefer the taped pieces to the real thing. The natural sound takes some funny outdoor bounces and the effects of humidity, cold, etc., as cataloged by FFLeo, reek havoc on instrument and instrumentalist. I thought it was lovely and exceeded the efforts of the poet which should have been taped so we could have fast forwarded her.

  10. I was just really impressed at the inclusion of actual (well, technically, probably) “classical” music in the program. Has that ever been done before?

    I certainly understand about string instruments and cold like they had to expect… now, if the Inaug. was in June and they faked it… then I’d be dis-impressed!

  11. As an unaccomplished amateur fiddler and guitarist, I—like other instrumentalists—understand the effects of weather, especially changes of humidity, on instruments. The quartet could have performed in an enclosure and the public would have understood that need. However, I am disappointed because Perlman, one of my fiddle heroes, ‘faked’ this musical session along with the requisite emotion he displayed concurrently with his accompanists. They should have ‘fessed-up’ beforehand and just played the darn record while holding their hands over their hearts, or shown a video of the prerecording, or stated they were’ over-dubbing’ or ‘subbing’, or whatever else that might have been honorable.

    I am sure that other instrumentalists marveled, as I did, at how well they were able to play given the cold AND the wind—and without the expected wind distortion through the microphones—well, now we know. I kept thinking, man, my fingers would have been cold and stiff and how were Perlman and Ma able to change positions to the higher musical registers on their fingerboards and maintain perfect pitch and intonation. I really expected some flaws, especially during vibrato phrasing.

    Sure, they played along with the pre-recording, but that is not the same and I do not need to explain why to anyone with a rudimentary appreciation of musical performance. Perlman stated:

    “It would have been a disaster if we had done it any other way,” Perlman told the New York Times, which first reported that the music was taped on its Web site Thursday. “This occasion’s got to be perfect. You can’t have any slip-ups.”

    I consider that not telling people they were subbing to the pre-recording to be more of a disaster. The oath of office flub was more of a “disaster” than any ancillary musical “flub” could have been.

    Although I wanted a Do-Over of the Oath, I do not want a Do-Over—nor did I expect a Voice-Over—of the Quartet’s piece. The music was not that good anyway and as others have stated, it was markedly boring and plain. Sadly, forevermore “Air and Simple Gifts” will be remembered for its musical faux pas rather than for what it was written to represent. Milli Vanilli it ain’t, but it is still an infamous milestone in musical history. They disingenuously allowed the world to assume that such world-class musicians could perform admirably while ‘braving the elements’ outside in harsh weather. Dad-gummit-all!

    What a stain on the honor of the highest class of esteemed musicians. I trust that they can reconcile their deceit and then apologize to the musical world. We will forgive them; although the tarnished memory will remain for me whenever I see them perform—especially with Perlman, because I never appreciated Ma as occupying the same musical stratosphere as the great violinist.

  12. As others have noted, there is a huge difference in keeping a stringed instrument (especially a million dollar one) “tuned” (not to correct my favorite blogger, but it is not to keep them in “tone”;-)) and a brass instrument, as an example.

    I am a horn player (trumpet) and remember plenty of very cold nights in Christmas parades. It definitely causes tuning issues for horns, as well, but a good player (not even a professional) knows what to do to avoid this and even if it happens, can adjust embouchure to tune it “on the fly”, as it were.

    This is near impossible with a stringed instrument with frets, due to the bending of individual strings that may be out of tune.

    Please correct me if I am wrong regarding the stringed instruments.

  13. Enough with the Milli Vanilli analogy. These guys actually recorded the music two days earlier, unlike MV which had other people doing the singing.They also really played, but it was unamplified, and the studio controlled recording was broadcast.BFD.

    On a scale of 0 – 10, I make this about an 0.1.

  14. Well maybe it was because they weren’t cute enough. If it worked at Bejing it can work for Washington.

  15. Fox News just reported: “Obama is not really President because his string quartet was taped.”

  16. Got to go with Gynes on that one. I’ve seen both men actually play and they are both amazing musicians, but if my primary instrument was a Strad, I’d be reluctant to take it outside too.

  17. I bet none of them had their “good” instruments out either. Weather is hell on stringed instruments, and when your instrument costs millions you tend to baby it.

    I hate playing outside, and always charge more to do it. It’s bad for the equipment and you’re constantly having to re-tune.

  18. That four minutes seemed like an eternity.


    I’ll use it to put people to sleep.

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