A Guy’s Guide to Culture: Painful Piccolo

You know me (and if you don’t, count your blessings), I get absolutely, freak-all nothing about classical music—and even less about the piccolo. This was the first time I was subjected to the aural contraceptive imbibed with the auditory rum that is the pipeau (French for “piccolo” or, and this selection of slang is all mine thus free for the stealing: the ear piercer, the devil’s toothpick, the orchestral stiletto, musical staff infection, Satan’s sliver, symphonice pick, silver dynamite, the shoot flute).

Point being, I did not care much for the music in this concert, but this is on me and my completely adulterated ears, abused by years of aural pleasure doled out by singers stretching from Janis Joplin to Tom Waits, and groups ranging from Led Zeppelin to Disturbed. I’m sure those of you who appreciate the unique brand of “music” that is the piccolo will love Jean-Louis Beaumadier’s latest effort, Pastoral.

6589135535_55e59aae27 Pastoral CD cover

8:47 The Piccolo Guy (Jean-Louis Beaumadier) has begun.

8:48 Oh, my god. Have you ever heard a piccolo? No? Strangle a bird.

8:49 You know how to become one of the Top 10 Professional Piccolo Players in the world? Become a professional piccolo player.

8:50 The accompanying piano music is scaring me.

6589136919_3984d44209 Christelle Abinasr and Jean-Louis Beaumadier

8:52 Man, that’s high pitched. My eardrums are wincing. Strangle a bird that’s eating a screeching mouse.

8:53 Sure, it’s all soft and idyllic until someone loses a tympanum.

8:54 This is the musical equivalent of candy so sour your eyes burn.

9:08 The pastoral stuff is nicer. Less fatal.

9:13 Some brunette (Stella Daouès) comes out and plays three notes. What’s up with that?

6589144071_306f413a07 Stella Daouès

9:14 If you ever pick up the piccolo, Jean-Louis Beaumadier will be your hero. Either him or the guy who blows up your piccolo.

9:16 So now Stella Daouès has to sit in the front row and smile like a groupie in the wings… What’s still up with that?

9:21 How do you know if a piccolower is any good? People bleed louder?

9:27 Piccolo music smells funny. Don’t believe me, but go to a piccolo concert sometime and smell for yourself.

6589150987_597f33875d Jean-Louis Beaumadier

9:30 Can’t say I recommend this, but if you like this kind of thing, you’ll like this.

9:34 This song is so penetrating and obnoxious that I nearly laugh out loud.

9:35 The piccolo is jarring. Whoa, “Pickle jar”!

9:36 He’s stabbing me with his freaky music.

9:38 His last song and I bet it is because this crowd doesn’t look too long on encores.

Jean-Louis Beaumadier

About the Contributor

Paul Prescott

Creative writer, English teacher, and pizza chef, I have been living in Paris for over 30 years. Less of a cinephile than a cinevore, I see a movie in the theater every day, and so aspire to see 365 films every year. In addition to the French film reviews on My French Life, I publish mini-reviews of every film I see on Leterboxd, Instagram and Twitter.

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  1. Julie Chamand Jan 18, 2012 at 1:22 PM - Reply

    Have you heard of the French expression “jouer du pipeau” meaning “to tell lies”? I’d be interested to know where that comes from…

  2. Paul Prescott Jan 18, 2012 at 7:43 PM - Reply

    Hi Julie!

    Thanks for taking the time to read the article and leave a comment.

    I believe the expression you’re referring to is, “C’est du pipeau” (It’s a lie / It’s all lies). The pipeau here is a bird call, not the musical instrument, and a parallel is being drawn between the false bird noise and the falsities someone expresses.

    Hope you enjoyed the article!

    Paris Paul

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