I am not sure whether my following question belongs to this site. I want to ask you where is the point of this so called image macro with J. S. Bach. I am probably unwitty but I am not able to figure out its comic effect.

Image text "Transcribes Violin Concerto for Harpsichord - Chance for More Voices"

  • Musically, violins and harpsichords can be referred to as "voices". But I've really no idea what was going through the mind of whoever produced your example. I don't know too much about musical terminology either, but my first thought is Transpose violin concertos to harpsichord sounds more likely, but there's no meaningful "syntax" to the words anyway. Do you even know if it came from a native speaker? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 23 '16 at 19:11
  • @FumbleFingers This is essentially a case of music theory jargon, which is why it doesn't seem to make sense on its face. The one thing I'm not sure about here is the usage for for: I'm pretty sure it's normal in music theory to talk this way, but it may be that it should be to as you suggested. – Era Feb 23 '16 at 19:16
  • @FumbleFingers: no, "Transpose" has a specific meaning in Music, of changing the key. "Transcribe" is the right word. I think "for" is good as well, thugh that's not so clear-cut. – Colin Fine Feb 23 '16 at 19:28
  • @Era: Offhand I can't think of a justifiable reason for closevoting, but I have to say that if I can't make sense of the text, it's not obvious to me how anything that anyone could say here would be particularly useful for someone trying to learn English. It just looks like a bunch of words to me, though from the format it's obvious someone thought it meant something "funny". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 23 '16 at 19:29
  • It's also possible that there is some missing context, e.g. from where the image was posted on a web forum or something. – Era Feb 23 '16 at 19:39

This joke depends on knowledge about music-- the joke itself isn't linguistic in nature. Basically, the joke is about J. S. Bach's tendency to use many voices in his work. The idea is that instead of simply transcribing the concerto from one instrument to another, he uses it as an opportunity to add even more voices to the piece.

  • I can't see much point to it (and I am a musician) unless it is intended as a bit of political satire, about more voices being heard (usually, about voices of people from different communities). – Colin Fine Feb 23 '16 at 19:29
  • @Colin: I agree that unless either this particular composer (Bach?) or musicians in general are especially keen to maximize the number of "voices" in their work (which seems unlikely), we'd have to suppose there's an allusion to voices = (political) perspectives. But there's still no real point, and so far as I can see nothing we can say has any real connection to "learning English". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 23 '16 at 19:36
  • @ColinFine I suspect that it's just not a very good joke. It's also possible that it's an inside joke in reference to some conversation that the creator had, e.g. complaining to a friend that some Bach piece they were studying had too many voices. (I don't know how plausible that is, since I haven't studied music myself.) – Era Feb 23 '16 at 19:37
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    He did do this, by the way, several times. Notably, his concerto for four harpsichords and string orchestra is based on a Vivaldi concerto for four violins. Not that this helps us understand the joke. – Colin Fine Feb 23 '16 at 19:42
  • Who knows? Perhaps there's a typo and it was supposed to be Change for more voices (alluding to the political Votes / voices for change which I think was a big thing for Obama). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 23 '16 at 19:43

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