A Joke About….Music Theory?

Written by:

Music theory isn’t supposed to be very funny. It’s all about roman numerals, numbers, letters and other exotic symbols and generally intimidating stuff that’s somehow supposed to relate to the songs and tunes we actually play every day. However, leave it up to someone like the great banjo player and master theoretician Bill Keith to pass along the following joke, which is more or less funny depending upon how much music theory you can stand in one sitting.

I’m providing the full, unexpurgated version of this joke at the request of many of those who were part of last week’s tremendously successful inaugural CBA Winter Music Camp. Thanks to everyone for being there and making it one of the best camp experiences ever and special thanks to camp director Ingrid Noyes, whose tireless efforts make these camps possible.

Okay…here goes:

C, E-flat and G go into a bar. The bartender says, “sorry, but we don’t serve minors.” So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying, “Excuse me. I’ll just be a second.” Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, “Get out! You’re the seventh minor I’ve found in this bar tonight.”

E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, “You’re looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development.” Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural.

Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he’s under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale correctional facility.

That’s it! Don’t forget that there are only 107 days left until the summer CBA Music Camp, which is a friendly place where you can learn why the above story is supposed to be so funny, in addition a lot of other more practical things related to playing and singing bluegrass and old-time music. See you there!

All the best,

Bill Evans


Read about: