May 7, 2022

Physical anthropology of orchestral musicians: jocks, not nerds

It's been a very long time since I got to see a professional orchestra IRL, probably the first time in adulthood. And in a Roaring Twenties picture palace, no less, where I could see them fairly well.

I was simply amazed at how corporeal their body types are -- perhaps not surprising if you think of playing a musical instrument as a kinesthetic activity, but I don't think most people do. And if they do, they don't think of a symphony orchestra as "that kind" of musical performance -- so much more brainy, therefore the performers should look the part, right?

All the women were butt women, not boob women -- and not just like they had relatively more around back than up front, we're talking bubbles and thighs so thicc you couldn't help but notice them from 50 feet away. I thought it was a group of gymnasts, dancers, shot-putters, and field hockey players. They were built like jocks, not nerds.

Some were more heavy-set, some more slender, but all were butt people. The strings section was more corporeal than the brass or woodwind section -- bigger butts, more corpulent bodies overall. Still, even the wispy French horn player was conspicuously bending over to arrange things on her chair, with her back to the audience, just like the butt girls in high school bend over their desks to get attention from boys (or the hot guy teacher).

I attribute that difference to how physical the activity is -- strings involve larger / longer motion of the limbs, namely the arm used for bowing. Brass and woodwind motor activity is more fine than gross, you can barely see them moving around at all.

I didn't notice any big difference within the strings section, as though the ones with a cello between their legs had to have more developed bodies than the violinists, or as though the upright bass players needed more leg & butt muscle to put into their standing activity. All of them have the same range of gross motor activity, i.e. their dominant arm that's bowing. Sitting vs. standing doesn't involve motion, and neither does opening vs. closing your legs while sitting.

Naturally the harpist was a meaty butt woman -- that instrument is huge, and requires full extension and contraction of both arms. While executing a glissando, she looks like one of those women who can start a pull-cord lawnmower. I'm guessing the women who play a lyre, which fits on your lap, don't look like they hang out at the squat rack in the gym.

I couldn't help but think of a certain WASP-y Twitter persona who mentioned how much she wanted to learn the harp, and also mentions her weightlifting activities and being a dumptruck ass-haver, all of which are out-of-place on the cerebral platform. (Except for being a Millennial, she'd fit in better with the TikTok accounts.) I won't name her because she probably blushes easily, this is just to provide further confirmation of the correlation. She would stand out as the blonde in the orchestra, though, so maybe she would opt for small cozy recitals, as blondes are evidently more prone to stage-fright.

The guys were similar to their female counterparts in the section, with a fair share of the cellists and bass players -- and the conductor himself -- having pot bellies, while the flautist looked like a twink. This is the only respectable profession that suits fat people.

Hardly any blondes, and this is the Midwest, so there's an ample supply of them in the general population. At least one fiery redhead, although I couldn't make out some of those toward the back, so there could have been another here or there. Blonde hair reflects a recent domestication event in Europe, so brown and red-haired Europeans are the wilder back-to-nature type. Neanderthals had red hair, too. I'll bet that, just like the case with popular music, the elite orchestral musicians in Sweden are way more brunette than the highly-blonde population at large.

Music is inextricably linked with dance, and both of those activities are kinesthetic and put us back in touch with our grug-brain past. Even the forms of it that are intended for -- and performed by -- an elite stratum of society, and are more graceful than lumbering, reflect the animal side of human nature, not the cogitating symbol-manipulating side.

The symphony and the ballet are ways for the modern commercial / financial elite, who are supposed to suppress their brute ancestry, to still indulge their animality -- on occasion, and provided it has the all-important gracefulness to keep the libido from getting out of control once it's started up.

To end on, after figuring out who was present, I was struck by who therefore was absent -- skinny queens, big-naturals, nerds, and all the other people who populate 95% of online platforms. Specifically, the type who if they do make or listen to music, it's always something with minimal musicianship behind it, and never danceable / moshable / headbangable -- indie, punk, lyrics-heavy rap (as opposed to crunk), etc.

Who also makes up 95% of music critics at any media outlet? Yep, the same two-left-feet-having cerebral type who sneer at fat people (anyone with a BMI over 20) as morally unclean and creatively bereft. So delusional -- but what else would you expect from people who are literally lost in their own thoughts for their entire lives?


  1. Alison Balsam was one of the few instrument-players in her otherwise cerebral corner of Twitter (keyboards). And naturally she was one of the stand-outs physically as well -- a 5'10 PAWG with small boobs. Keyboards require motor activity that's more than just the fingers, wrists, or even elbows -- to move side to side, you're moving your arms all the way up to the shoulder. Pretty jock-ish.

    Always reminded me of the girls from Au Revoir Simone, in every little way. Butt girl, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, keyboardist, indie, WASP-y or Midwest adjacent version, elite lib-arts college grad, early '80s birth, fondness for the '80s in general, depressive but addicted to dancing and dance music...

    Maybe if you just discovered Au Revoir Simone after the Twin Peaks revival appearance, you'd say they reminded you of her -- an entire band of Alison Balsams. :)

    So many of this things coming together in this video, hope any newcomers enjoy:

  2. Ali's totally scrubbed herself from google images. Just thought I'd take a trip down memory lane with that distinctive purple avatar.

    When I become dictator, holders of iconic avis will never be allowed to delete them from searches. At a certain point of virality, they pass into the public domain, and no longer belong to the account-holder solely.

    Now, the internet is telling me not only that she doesn't post anymore, but that she never existed in the first place. I really can't stand that aspect of online -- how easy it is to just erase everything from existence.

    Like Aimee getting banned for no reason again, and they don't just censor the tweet in question, or even stop her from posting further tweets. They erase every single thing she ever posted on the entire platform over the lifetime of her account.

    This is tantamount to a summary execution or summary exile from one's nation of citizenship, and summary confiscation of everything they own within your jurisdiction, on the flimsiest pretext. It can never happen IRL, but is routine online.

    Fuck this whole gay virtualverse. Nothing physical, means it's trivial to wipe out everything. "Everything lasts forever on the internet" -- exactly the other way around. It's really, "On the internet, every page reads 404 after five years."

  3. Your online content is not just a private collection of thoughts, like a journal, that you're entitled to either share or not with others, or maybe to burn altogether from existence.

    Most people don't have very original ideas, that's not what they're doing by posting / uploading videos / making images / etc. They're doing those things to establish a connection of some sort, to some degree, with other people online. Building a relationship.

    Scrubbing your entire online existence is not just burning an embarrassing journal you kept under your bed during middle school. You're taking back everything you ever shared with those you had a relationship with.

    Sorry, but the connections between two people together do not belong to just one of them. That's why no-fault divorce was not allowed for so long -- society has an interest in preserving the collective, e.g. the married couple and/or their children, not only the narrow little individual. Only during neoliberal individualism did we do away with that.

    If nobody was aware of, or engaged with, your content, there's no relationships to disrupt by deleting your previous online existence.

    But when you establish a relationship with so many other people, who have such a fond attachment to you, sorry, you can't just no-fault delete your account and entire history. Not when I become dictator, anyway.

    1. I recently deactivated my Facebook and started a new one. Part of it is I had far too many friends on my old FB and many didn't interact with me. I made a plea that I only want active participants on my new FB. So far I am getting what I want, much engagement from a smaller group of friends. What I never mentioned is another key reason I closed my old FB is I confessed way too much about myself. I got way too personal and I regret it even if didn't hurt my life in any way. I was just uncomfortable with it being out there and I do feel better now.

  4. Society has an interest in preserving collectives online, just as much as IRL. More so, since they're so easily disconnected due to not having a physical anchoring.

    If you don't want to stay married to someone when you'd rather split, then don't get married in the first place.

    If you don't want to stay connected to other accounts when you'd rather deacc, then don't create content or engage with theirs in the first place.

    Once you do, though, that's it -- you're bonded in a relationship, and unless some extreme circumstances are going on, you don't get to just unilaterally unplug yourself from all of existence.

    Shit like this makes it so hard to trust anyone online, to form any semblance of community, or feel anything remotely real toward other accounts. How do you know they won't be the next to just erase their entire existence from the universe?

    I'm not going to be some schizo nut who screenshots or backs-up everything from an account I like, just in case. That would signal a profound lack of trust on my part, right at the outset.

  5. Strangely, maybe it's safer to attach to corporate-owned content -- they don't want to mass-delete the entire catalog made by one of their talents. Bowdlerize, censor, rework -- yes, in some worst-case scenarios. But not just delete everything the person ever did, and all traces they ever existed.

    No, I'm not rationalizing my interest in the streamers I've begun to watch, all of whom are repped by a talent agency. But because their content is not solely theirs, as in a personal account, it won't just get scrubbed from the entire internet within 5 years.

    The corporate rights-holders, even if that changes hands, are at least some kind of steward -- not the most long-term-minded, of course. But more so than the individual who on a whim decides they're bored of being connected to so many others through certain pieces of content and accounts, and so they just delete all that content and the accounts and all related traces of their existence.

    It's hardly ideal, but so many Internet People just take back everything they ever shared with their entire "fan-base" or whatever, with no warning so you could make some back-ups, and just set off for another galaxy without even saying good-bye.

    If you're a Zoomer reading this, you don't have enough sense of history. I've been online long enough to know -- check out that sidebar of posts by year. This blog was born in 2005, right after you were. And I've been online since the mid-'90s.

    Online encourages the most anti-social behavior, whether or not that's who the account-holder "really is," i.e. IRL. Well, pretty soon no one is going to exist as a social creature IRL, as every relationship goes virtual. Then you truly will be a psychopathic egocentric freak for deleting your whole existence, since your behavior defines you, and increasingly the only kind of social behavior will be online.

  6. It's not anonymity that encourages anti-social online behavior. Maybe some degree of the name-calling would stop -- but maybe not. Boomers have always hurled insults under their real name, with a face-doxxing avi. They don't care. Anonymity is not what does it.

    But anti-social online behavior isn't limited to name-calling (which is not even that anti-social). Committing suicide is anti-social -- affecting negatively all those who were connected to you, without even asking them or making it up to them somehow. Just unplug, and let them deal with the whole big mess you caused afterward.

    Deleting your entire existence from the internet is virtual suicide. Sorry, you don't get to do that, I don't care what happened.

    If that person were posting under their real name, they could just as easily commit virtual suicide. Just as easily take everything back that they ever shared with everyone.

    It's the absence of physicality that makes online so anti-social. Social interactions are face-to-face, not mediated. Remove the face-to-face component, and there goes the social norms. Nerds, being cerebral, think that "removing the face-to-face" means going anonymous, i.e. having to do with identifying an individual.

    No, it means removing the physical anchoring of their interactions. You can't just relocate anywhere you want to IRL, you can't just invade everyone's house who you interacted with and confiscate everything you ever gave to them, and then try to defend that from being taken back by them, etc. You can't just press a few buttons, and suddenly all traces and connections are gone, while you're still alive.

    This is why online wasn't so bad when it was used to interact with people you knew IRL. I never saw the point to it -- just call them on the phone, knock on their door, etc. But it was still harmless, not anti-social, to send them an instant message from across the same dorm room in 2002.

    You couldn't delete your online existence from them, because they knew where to find you IRL. If you deleted your AIM account, they still hung out with you in the dorm, went to dinner with you, threw the frisbee around the quad, and whatever else. Your relationship was physically anchored, and that is impossible to erase at the touch of a button.

  7. I barely even interacted with the account whose virtual suicide got this whole rant started. I don't personally mind it that much -- I mind that it's something that goes on all the time in this pathetic simulation of reality. And the next virtual suicide may hit much closer to home than hers has.

    Sidebar: there needs to be a movie titled The Virtual Suicides. Never saw The Virgin Suicides, but it's too good and too relevant to not develop.

    Anyway, think of everyone she developed a close bond with -- now they're left with nothing, other than their own memories. That's the only physical anchoring to online -- people's memories in their own brains.

    Don't ever transfer your brain to online, if that becomes possible -- no more physicality, means they'll delete whatever, whenever, whyever, by whoever.

    Sadly for the virtual suicides, they couldn't pour their algorithmic acid into the brains of everyone who remembered something about the person.

    There's a dystopian sci-fi short story for you -- in the entirely virtual future, accounts that want to commit virtual suicide hire not just programmers to scrub their digital fingerprints from online, but hire teams of lobotomizers to find every person IRL who knew about them. This drives the unlobotomized underground, preserving memories like gold-hoarders would during a barbarian invasion.

    And they're not even memories of IRL relations -- but memories of relationships that were already entirely online! Not even that nth-degree removal from reality can be tolerated, since it still has some sliver of a physical chemical basis, and in so many separate locations, where it's impossible to just write one program that eliminates them all!

  8. Musical instruments are tools, so that also taps into our grug-brain past. Homo habilis, "Man, the tool-maker" or tool-user.

    The players may not make the tools, but they do maintain them and use them in precise technical ways. They have to be adept with physical mechanisms, not just reasoning, emoting, and symbol-manipulating.

    Similar to chefs, another corporeal profession, and another where fat people are famously over-represented.

    (And yes, that aspiring harpist is also an amateur chef.)

    RETVRN to material technology, not informational "tech". Mechanical engineers not software "engineers," OK? :DDD

  9. Chefs are more redheaded as well. From what little cooking shows I used to watch, I remember Mario Batali and the runner-up, Tiffani, from season 1 of Top Chef both being fiery redheads. Checked around the other seasons, and seems like there's a redhead in the majority of seasons, some fiery, some orange-brown.

    And in the seasons with no redheads, it's still vastly brunettes, not very blonde.

    In all the time I've spent in and around academia / schools, I don't remember a single redhead, whether on the faculty or as grad students. Or high school teachers. Or tutors at a tutoring center. Could've been one in there somewhere, but none come to mind, like those two chefs who I haven't watched in over 15 years.

    Cooking raw materials into an edible meal, using tools and fire -- doesn't get more grug than that. It's only natural for our half-Neanderthal redhead relatives to thrive there.

    As for body shape, redheads always have some degree of curves, usually in the hips and buns. Never seen a flat-assed redhead girl. A former housemate was a redhead, and she was a thicc professionally trained dancer. They're so animalistic.

    Wolfabelle said there's a bunch of redheads in her family, and that she has redhead skin (although dark hair). Her curvaceous body speaks for itself, but she also mentioned that she not only was trained as a dancer, but was a dance instructor.

    If only she didn't drink before her cooking streams, I'm sure she'd take to it naturally. I don't recall if she's said she used to play an instrument, though.

    More reason to tune into the visual platforms like Twitch / YouTube streaming, or TikTok, if you want to stay connected to the corporeal shape rotators of our species, and not only the cerebral wordcels from the verbal platforms.


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