Rock Around the Croc: Beethoven and the Symphony

Welcome back to your not-necessarily-weekly education in music and music history. I’m your host Sobek, and today my subject is the end of the Classical era and the beginning of the Romantic period. Alternate title, Beethoven Changes Everything Forever. Let’s start with a quote:

“Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of a woman”

That’s awesome. Now about some memes? Let’s see what we have around here…

If you search “Beethoven memes,” most of the jokes are variations on this one.
For the nerds
For Car in. No one else look.

Today I want to focus on Beethoven’s Third Symphony, titled Eroica (“Heroic”). You can listen to all 51 minutes of it here:

But unlike my post on Haydn’s 6th Symphony, I’m not going to break it down musically. Instead I want to focus on why it’s so historically significant. For the musical breakdown nerds, you can listen to this guy, who I think is very interesting. My one complaint is that he rushes really quickly through his musical examples, so if you can’t read music and aren’t familiar with musical analysis, you miss a lot.

He also starts off with a historical introduction, which is pretty important. The king of Sweden visited Beethoven and suggested the composer write a piece in honor of Napoleon, then a rising star general recognized for his brilliance on the battlefield. But by the time the piece was done, Napoleon had crowned himself Emperor, and Beethoven wasn’t such a big fan, so he scratched out that title and renamed it “Heroic Symphony to Commemorate the Memory of a Great Man.” Not catchy; Eroica is better.

There are some important innovations going on in this piece of music that are the reason for my post today. All of the ingredients of a Classical Era symphony are present in Symphony No. 3. But Beethoven so thoroughly transformed those ingredients and he spelled the beginning of the end of the Classical Era and the birth of the Romantic. The symphony is much longer than what had gone before. Haydn’s No. 1 clocks in at under 14:00, his 27th is the first that comes in over the thirty minute mark, only ten of his 106 are over 30:00, and none are over 40:00. Mozart had two symphonies over 30:00 in length, and his longest was just over 40:00 (Symphony No. 41, “Jupiter”).

And although Beethoven has the ingredients of the Classical Era symphony, he has complete freedom to screw around with all of it. One of my favorite guitarists is Marty Friedman, formerly of Megadeth, who always wrote columns for Guitar World when I was a kid and I could tell how much he loved teaching guitar stuff. I like his philosophy on developing your own sound: learn the techniques that already exist, then deliberately screw them up to see what you can discover. Here’s an example of that:

I will add, science has never been able to explain how screwed up his right hand picking technique is – what on Earth is his doing cranking his hand around like that, and how has he not snapped his wrist into pieces yet? – but hey, it works for him, and I think he would agree that’s the point. When it comes to music, you do you. Also, Marty, if you read this, shoot me an email so we can hang out some time. You are amazing.

In a standard symphony, the first movement is usually in sonata form, and that’s exactly what Beethoven does here. But he introduces not two, but three themes. And why not? Take the normal thing and screw it up to make it your own. If you watched the Quick Guides video above, you know that right after he introduces his first theme, he ends it with a C#, which our enthusiastic guide describes as “possibly the most famous note in all symphonic music.” You and I have no conception of what that means, or rather what it meant in Beethoven’s day, because the C# is the same as a Db, which is just a flat 7 of the Eb Major scale. If that sentence is a bit on the nerdy side, I’ll rephrase it. We’ve switched from an E Major to an E Dominant chord. Still too nerdy? The dominant chord is probably the single most common chord in all of rock and roll. It is absolutely ubiquitous, it is the basis for all of the blues, it is the heart and soul of nearly everything written since the invention of rock, up until the coming of grunge in the 1990s (which featured a lot more chromaticism). It is, in a sense, the wrong note, which almost makes it the precursor to jazz. So we listen to that C# and think, hey, that’s lovely. What I wouldn’t give to be able to hear that note as a contemporary of Beethoven.

And I’m still not done. As our Quick Guides guy points out, one of the standout features of the piece is its “epic, tonal drama.” And at last we arrive at what Beethoven is most famous for, and what ultimately spelled the death of the Classical era. It is his overwhelming emotionality, which saw a total disregard for the rules when they interfered with that emotionality, that so appealed to the composers who followed him. Music was no longer seen as something written to glorify God, or as a pretty, decorative art, but as the artist expressing passions on a grand scale.

Beethoven also brought in the notion of overarching connectedness to the Symphony. You can hear this in his famous Symphony No. 5, where the fate motif and the horn motif reappear throughout the different movements. And in Symphony No.6, he uses the orchestra to conjure and describe a massive thunderstorm.

You hear the storm begin, with little patters of rain, at 30:16, and growing intensity, complete with thunder and lightning, until it runs it course and peace is restored. This symphony revolutionizes the concept of “theme” in concert music. Before now, a theme was a short musical statement that would be introduced and then subjected to the processes of whatever musical form it was (repeated but modified in a theme and variations, dissected and rearranged in a fugue, etc.). Here, the theme is outside of the notes themselves – it is this notion of a thunderstorm, and if you try to figure out what the musical theme is, you will leave quite baffled.

In Symphony No. 5, Beethoven proved that you can create a theme out of just four notes.

As Professor Greenberg notes, you can listen to Baroque-era music all day and, unless it’s an especially famous piece by Bach, Handel or Vivaldi, or unless you have a PhD and wrote your dissertation on a Corelli or Scarlatti, most likely the best you will be able to say is “this sounds like it was written during the Baroque.” But nothing in the world sounds like Beethoven after the Eroica. If you listen to Symphony No. 9 and the best you can do is say “this sounds Classical,” then you’ve been living in a cave or you’re just screwing with me. The point being, Beethoven so thoroughly transformed music that forever afterwards, composers did everything they could to inject themselves into the music. Once the Romantic period gets up and running, it makes very, very little sense to talk about Romantic music, rather than talking about Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt, Berlioz, or Schubert individually.

Just so today. Last night I was thinking about how much I love Stone Temple Pilots’ debut album Core, but it really sounds a lot like any other grunge album released that decade (STP was unfairly mocked as a Pearl Jam rip-off, even though Core was released before Ten). But their second album, Purple, is pure STP – no one else sounds like that. Dean DeLeo is one of my favorite bass players, and it completely shines through here. His brother Robert on guitar is basing everything he does on a Mixolydian scale, which means a flat 7 – the exact note that was so shocking in Eroica.

And that’s it for this week. Before I finish I want to say that I didn’t write anything at all about the Classical era string quartet, or Classical era opera (but you all said you don’t like opera – and I would have had to do a bunch of research to say anything intelligible about it), or Classical era concerti. And I almost exclusively talked about the Big Three: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The point being that there is an enormous body of work from the Classical era that I didn’t touch at all. But no worries, we can always come back later and explore as much as we want.


  1. nothing in the world sounds like Beethoven after the Eroica. If you listen to Symphony No. 9 and the best you can do is say “this sounds Classical,” then you’ve been living in a cave or you’re just screwing with me.

    Provocative. Not taking the bait. Nice try, crocodile.

  2. Visual representation of Pupster unpacking this post:

  3. Laughing because about halfway through the long-ass post, he starts a paragraph with “And I’m still not done.”

  4. Has anybody noticed that Bill Fucking Gates is neither a physician nor an epidemiologist?

  5. *slowly raises paw*

    Also overrated as a philanthropist.

  6. I’m playing around with giphy dot com as a media storage option for gifs and mp4s. Chrispy I’m not trying to crash your laptop.

    I can haz dragon fruit?

    It is frustrating that the site puts media links around the border for redirects back to giphy, and even though the file is .gif most browsers see it as video .mp4 instead. I’m trying to stay in .gif because it’s my thing you know? The last 2 and next week’s BBF hot links have been giphy files, I guess I’m asking if anyone has had trouble with them.

  7. Also, why “Sadly” Mr. Gates? Something that is naturally occuring and provides better immunity and costs nothing is doing a better job at protecting peoples health? FUCKING SADLY?

  8. *disappointed Eroica means Hero and not Sexy Times Erotica*

  9. I have never seen so many people just willingly turn off their brains en masse. My niece, 20 y/o, got the clotshot because my sister’s idiot ex pushed her to.

    Result: her next period lasted weeks. It just kept going and going. Her doctor was alarmed and told her to go to the ED. The hospital took labs and told her that this kind of menstrual effect was a known side effect of the covid vaccine and that her labs showed she was fine.
    OK, well all well that ends well, right?

    Really? Nobody is asking HOW the vaccine causes this? Menstruation only lasts less than a week normally because the lining of the uterus is finite. There’s only a certain amount in there that needs to be sloughed off.

    Where is all this extra blood coming from? Nobody cares? We know this is a common side effect, so we can shut our brains off now, and not ask any questions about HOW this happens? WHAT is going on to cause this?

  10. I don’t remember any troubles with the hot links but that was like 2 days and hundreds of links ago.

    Maybe add a line to next week’s BBF poat to give instant feedback after trying the links


  12. Bill Gates is not even a college graduate. Surrounded by credentialists, they always ignore this one.

  13. Lauraw – let’s not give into the hysteria. As this article calmly explains, they were researching this, but didn’t release the data (that it was perfectly ok AND NO RISK) due to fear of “Pre-bunking”. that’s like debunking but pre.

  14. “Amid the many lessons we’ve learned about vaccine safety over the past two years, perhaps one of the most important is about designing future studies to avoid surges of fertility-related misinformation. “This can really be a call to action to include this type of data in future prospective clinical studies,” said Jason Wright, an OB-GYN at Columbia University and the editor-in-chief of the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, which published the NIH study. “I hope this is the start of a bigger movement.””

  15. Is it racist to notice the number of commercials whose actors are of the minority persuasion, these last few years?
    I was called a racist for daring to notice and remarking how they may be racist because they aren’t representative of the greater population.
    I was then told that the reason they use those actors is to appeal to the population that uses those products disproportionately.

    I shall force myself to watch TV for an extended time to track this.

  16. Car in, I’d be curious as to how much Grant money big pharma gives to Columbia U.

  17. Beasn, do the opposite and stop watching TV. Much healthier alternative.

  18. These people have absolutely everything backward and completely wrong.

    Everything. And yet they are LECTURING us. It’s infuriating.

  19. Carin, that article diminishes the whole thing by making you think these changes are typically small. And referring to women as ‘menstruating people’ throughout is just off-putting.

  20. Dear crazy people. What makes you a male is that thing swinging between your legs and the biology that backs it up. EVERYTHING ELSE is a construct. You feel a draw to your “feminine” side? I don’t know what the fuck that is? Do you want to bleed a week a month? Feel a baby in your tummy? Because the is the basic -most basic- experience of being a woman. EVERYTHING else is a variable. A lot of that a social construct, that you can accept or reject.

    I’m so sick of the mumbo jumbo coming out of these people’s mouths.

  21. Lauraw- agreed. Which is why I shared it.

  22. I also sorta wonder if these “trans” or non-binary men feel like their feminine side has meaning, when in reality they’re just pussies. They don’t want to be a man. to be a defender/provider. they don’t want to go down with the ship, they want to get on the life raft with the women and children.

    This is a brand new theory I just thought up. Opinions?

    I do know the one “trans” guy from work wanted to be taken care of. By a manly man. He rejected the idea that HE should step in at the moment of danger.

    we’ve pussified men. ANd this is what we have.

  23. Lumps, one of my physical therapists had the opposite reaction to the clotshot. No period for seven months. The other physical therapist had tachycardia episodes. They are not getting the booster(s).

  24. Car in, I agree with you but I don’t accept that as theory. It’s more an observation of what they are telling us and acting out.

  25. I remember going through the comments in a vax injured Facebook group…there were a few post menopausal women complaining that they started bleeding again.

  26. Shorter CARin: Take your balls and go home.

    It’s not easy to be a man. It is even harder to pretend to be something you are not. You can imitate Paul Newman but you’ll never be him, why try and be Marilyn Monroe? It is not supposed to be easy, but dang…pick something attainable.

  27. Too much navel gazing in those figure skaters. Look, you freak, you wear makeup when you perform because if you don’t you’ll look like crap on every other person who has a job in front of cameras.

  28. There was a reddit AITA of a soon-to-be dad who was upset that his wife wanted a gender-neutral name for their daughter “so she can keep the same name if she wants to transition.” Sounded like Munchausen by proxy, are you already planning for your girl to become a boy? WTF?

  29. Beasn, I recently watched a video on the topic of minority over representation in commercials and the white male being present as a clueless beta dupe if shown at all. I don’t remember who hosted the video, I thought it was Mark Dice but I’m not finding it. This trend has been going on for years and it’s becoming more obvious when it dominates all the commercials. My TV gets turned on for football games and occasionally movies on TCM. That’s about it.

  30. Gender neutral figure skater isn’t comfortable with his true nature of a gay man and hides behind the trendy they/them shield

  31. No, not everyone can be Chris Kyle ,etc. And that’s not what I’m asking. I just wouldn’t put up with a man that took to a fainting couch at the first sign of trouble.

    The trans guy I knew wanted a man who could take care of car stuff. I’m just throwing this out there – how common is this?

  32. Queen Elizabeth got the coof.

  33. Too much navel gazing in those figure skaters.

    While I was reading it I thought to myself “these people have completely disappeared up their own assholes,” but I guess your verbiage is the traditional way to phrase it, hahahaaaa

    Seriously though, self-absorbed much? Does everybody really have to be God’s Most Special Unique Sparkly Being?

  34. Bill Gates’s father is/was an enormous POS. He loved abortion and he was a big pusher of Common Core. He was a garbage lefty like all of them.

    Apple not falling far from the tree status: True

  35. Carin, I’m so happy with your discussion of what part is real and what part is “construct,” I’ve never seen anybody parse it that way.

  36. Oh, every part of the Gates biography we got was nonsense. He was born a millionaire, he stole the core ms-dos code from Xerox, he was never some garage tinkerer. It was all image management, even then, for the IPO.

  37. how common is this?

    As common as men who see a wang and want it to invade their alimentary canals.

  38. It’s just insane. Some guy wants to tell me because he feels more comfortable in a dress that makes him a woman? Because he’s drawn to care taking or creative jobs, that is his “feminine” side? It’s just crap. And the feminists used to know this.

  39. I blame xenoestrogens in the environment.

  40. It seems as though feminists would be outraged at how easy it is to “be a woman.”

  41. Here’s a symphony that was written about 300 years later. You might notice it sounds a bit different. The computer, Anton Webern, gets name dropped in Gravity’s Rainbow.

  42. A scant 40 years ago, a single grain of sand in the hourglass of time, I would likely have gotten my ass kicked multiple times if I’d insisted on leaving the house in a dress and makeup. And that’s not even including my dad. We’ve lived through a steep descent in acceptable behavior and sanity.

  43. We’ve lived through a steep descent in acceptable behavior and sanity.




    I wonder if he goes by them/they pronouns now

  45. Feminists have been complaining but the men in dresses have been doing their best to get them canceled.

  46. At some point in time the trannies will be cancelled because they’re not into breeding with racehorse stallions and billy goats.

  47. They mean the HORSE wasn’t injured. @@

  48. He’s a hard-core horsecop who doesn’t play by their rules, a maverick on the force.

  49. Wait, another fella in a brown coat was knocked down by another horse even further back and to the left. Back and to the left.

  50. For those who don’t like opera:

  51. I’m old enough to remember when this was completely unacceptable, morally reprehensible, and NOT WHO WE ARE.

  52. I do know the one “trans” guy from work wanted to be taken care of. By a manly man.

    The only problem with his line of thinking is that the “manly” men are looking for/attracted to people who were born with 2 “X” chromosomes.

    These M-to-F trannies will never be – to paraphrase Pinocchio – a “real girl”, so they will always be disappointed.

  53. Shorter TiFW—-> Pussy is still undefeated.

  54. Pupster, the only thing I’ve seen about that guy who was stomped, too, was that he had a head injury. Not sure if that’s true. I haven’t looked hard enough to find out but I did see another angle from the perspective on the side of the protesters taping it. Once the horses stomped and passed waayy too close, the cops moved forward quickly, didn’t let anyone help those on the ground…and I thought I saw them lift that guy up rather roughly and yank/push him in a direction I couldn’t determine. The protesters were very loudly WTFing.

  55. Some of those LEO’S think stomping grannies, funny.

  56. Imma get one of these.

  57. Saw a really good deal on wood pellets for heating the house. We’re probably going to go back and get several pallets. That will go a long way toward making next Winter less painful, money wise, especially if the price skyrockets along with oil fuel. Which is likely, right?


  59. Cops in Ottowa remove names and badge numbers. Rumble video.

  60. Hey, RCMP, great PR you dumb assholes.

    Everyone loves the police so much at this stage, you’re really helping.

  61. They’ve come a long way since. “Dudley Doright” & “North of 60”.

  62. ^ I think in libspeak they call it evolving, strange that when libs evolve they always do so in a direction that takes them back toward their cave dwelling ancestors.

  63. Ahh, here is Ezra Levant (Rebel News). He put the leaked chat of those cops here…they are swine.

  64. Frontline manager is keeping his team masked up. Doesn’t want to deal with the Karen’s. Food prep, optical, and pharmacy still have to mask. We open at 10 on Sunday…not one single mask. By noon, 50/50 masked. I got crop dusted in Deli. Not even a N95 could stop that 💩

  65. If a N95 can’t stop that how effective do you suppose they are against nanites?

    BTW, that might have been me, ya gotta fart, ya gotta fart….

  66. Beasn, I saw that at SDA, and several like it. A while back I mentioned I killed someone in self defense & still had to serve a little time for it. That smug bullshit makes it all worth the time I lost & would do it again, for, as the liberals are famous for saying, ” the good of society”.


  68. Do you wear a leather motorcycle vest? Is your fat wife a loud talker? Pretty sure it wasn’t you 🤪👋🏻

  69. Video of them beating a reporter.

  70. In that last link, the reporter they beat was the same one who questioned Castreau, which he did not like…watch that little fuck’s face as she questions him.

  71. And their opposition party are as weak/complicit as the GOP.
    I really do wish the truckers go on strike.

  72. Jimbro, in the comments there are a couple like this…

    “North Bay airport (ICAO: CYYB) is home to Voyageur Airways Limited, a company owned by Chorus Aviation Inc. It’s an aircraft company is certified to do engineering work and maintain different aircraft frames so the planes in question may simply be in maintenance/rotation.”

  73. Hopefully that’s all it is

    Importing blue helmets to beat your population is never a good look


  75. Lumps, I tried ososplaining TikTok to CoWs when OMB was trying to shutdown the app.



  78. Too bad only cash can be sent to help them. Ammo would be better. I think before this is over they’re gonna need it, but with the seizures I wouldn’t want to accidentally donate THAT to the other side.
    Related, anyone know if a sub launched nuclear cruise missile has the range to hit Davos, particularly when the WEF is meeting? ….one “oops” and the entire world could be free of this bullshit.

  79. Carin got a new truck.

  80. Odd. I’m looking for a new truck. Everything is $10000 over actual value due to the chip crisis. Best deal I’ve found so far is a 2018 Raptor with 68 k miles for 50 grand. I’d bite for 40 if that’s all that was out there, but Raptors involve lots of expensive replacement parts, and 2 turbochargers. Learned my lesson after I ordered a Tbird supercoupe back in ’94. I’ll keep looking, the 05 FX4 isn’t Nicole and dining me, yet.

  81. I bet Carin’s truck has truck nutz hanging in the rear

  82. Unfortunate choice of song/ band, but still a cool moment.

    Same vibe.


  84. I always assumed I’d just get a new Tacoma when this one died but after seeing all the stories about shortages I’m not planning on moving on a new truck until this one shits the bed completely, And the definition of “shits the bed” changes over time. It’s a 2007 double cab with no frills at all. A few years ago Toyota replaced a ton of frames in their trucks due to corrosion issues including mine. It’s got about 180,000 miles on it and the way things are going I’m aiming for 300,000

  85. Bongino shows that “Same vibe” clip a lot in the context of building a movement.


    I saw an update for my iPhone this morning and wanted to read what was in it. It was pretty limited and mostly limited to Braille transcription. Silly me, I thought Braille was a tactile language.

    I wonder if a sighted person can compose text, convert the letters to Braille and send them electronically to a special printer where the blind person reads the printout.

  87. This dad is a total dick and I freaking love it:

  88. Not a fan of Encanto. Expected We don’t talk about Bruno to get the Oscar nod. Watched the YouTube that explained the back story behind the song that was nominated. Music is math!!!! Soylent green is people!!!!

  89. This dad is a total dick and I freaking love it:


  90. Report:
    During hurricane season I purchased one of these

    On sunny winter days I have been playing with it. I can charge my Kindle or my iPhone in a few hours.
    Today I was not vigilant but recharged my smallest power brick in 1 day. (my lot is at 45 degrees N, NW.) So I have a few hours of early morning sun a few hours of midday sun and a few hours of late afternoon sun, I did not attempt late day sun.
    So for a portable solar charger I will say it works well for small devices.

    In conclusion if your generator runs out of gas on sunny days you can keep a Kindle/iPhone/iPad running as long as you have sun.

  91. Auger worked.

  92. But it evidently has fish repellent built in.

  93. One of the guys I fished with is a college prof.
    He smoked dope the entire time.

  94. It wasn’t a good look.

  95. 100

  96. Vmax, I got one of those for charging the phone while hiking. It’s a good item to have.

  97. dang

  98. It’s a shame her speech is wasted on that fop.

  99. The Needle Points essay is one that I think Jimbro linked here, it was the four-parter on vax hesitancy.

  100. Is Trey Gowdy up for reelection this year? He’s on Fox trying to pass himself off as some kind of originalist constitution guy again, all in love with the Founders. Fucking sham artist.

  101. I thought he left office.

  102. I’m done listening, Evangeline.

    Trey retired from congress, don’t think he’s running, is he? Just collecting his big paycheck from Faux News

  103. all hat, no cattle. He could have nailed them to the wall, and he chickened out. Probably on advice from Cringeshaw

  104. *looking at my state championship trophy from this weekend.

    If you have the means, i highly recommend one. It’s a lot of fun

  105. Congrats on the win, J’Ames!

  106. Congratulations, Jay!

  107. Why does Facebook think that I need to see campaign ads for Ayanna Presley? They don’t even hide their bias.

  108. Diplomatic emissaries renegotiated pacts.

  109. MMM 483

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