[lit-ideas] Re: Drei Kleine Nachtmusiken

In a message dated 3/5/2009 2:50:16 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
cblists@xxxxxxxx writes:
>     Consider:
>
>        A:   I'll play a little  night music.
>
>     B:  I'm a little drunk

There is an ambiguity about 'a little' in English  which does not occur  
in German.

In Slavic languages it's even subtler. Cfr. Bartok,
 
Az éjszaka zenéje 
 
----

----
 
Playing on the syntactic or scope (I take it) ambiguity, there may also  
(i.e. most likely, for sure) be some ambiguity re: 'night' as 'adjective'.
 
A: Play me a little night music
 
(B proceeds)
 
A: That's not "a little night" -- that's totally _matinal_
 
                "Chanson du matin" by Elgar -- hardly a 'chanson' to me.
 
I'm referring to "C3" in the OED (under 'night'):  "Attributive.  Designating 
things belonging or relating to night, or existing, operating,  prevailing, 
taking place, etc., in the evening or at night."
 
And cfr. OED entry for 'night music':
 
1. Music heard, or intended to be played, at night. Freq. fig., esp. with  
reference to the sound of insects. Sometimes translating German Nachtmusik 
(17th 
 cent.), esp. with allusion to the title ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’ of 
Mozart's  serenade K525 (1787). 
 
1832 J. K. PAULDING Westward Ho! II. ii. 19 
 
The stillness of the night, interrupted only by the drowsy hum of insects,  
the croaking of frogs, and the occasional night music of the owl and  
whip-poor-will. 
 
1837 Southern Lit. Messenger 3 196/1 Who so happy in the air, With the sad  
night-music there. 
 
1867 Old Guard Oct. 788/2 On the graves, in the deepest shade and shadow,  
the crickets and katydids were chirping their night-music. 
 
1889 Harper's Mag. May 906/1 It was a pleasant thing to take a rustic  chair, 
and..sit and listen to the night music then rising in the woods. 
 
1910 W. DE LA MARE Three Mulla-Mulgars ix. 128 It pleased Battle mightily,  
this night-musicmusic of all the kinds they knew, white man's, Jaqqua-music,  
Nugga-music, and Mulla-mulgars'. 
 
1952 M. J. WARD (title) A little night music. 1995 People (Electronic ed.)  
12 Nov., This County Louth undertaker liked nothing better than to wind down  
with a little night music.

2. spec. Music which evokes the sounds made by  birds, insects, etc., at 
night.

Associated chiefly with the music of Béla Bartók, prob. originally  with 
allusion to the title Az éjszaka zenéje (‘The Night's Music’) of the fourth  
movement of his suite for piano Szabadban (‘Out of Doors’) published in 1927. 
 
[1931 Musical Times 1 Aug. 698/2 One of the pieces [from ‘Out-of-Doors’],  
called ‘Music of the Night’, towers high above all his other work of this  
period.]
 
1950 Music & Lett. 31 37 The melody is accompanied..by the fourth D-G,  with 
grace notes C-F held against it, senza colore, in anticipation of the  ‘Night 
Music’ movements in the ‘Out of Doors’ Suite, the fourth Quartet, &c. 
 
1957 M. CARNER in A. Robertson Chamber Music xi. 225 Bartòk's  impressionism, 
as exemplified in the ‘night music’ of the slow movements of  [string 
quartets] Nos. 4 and 5, can be traced back to Debussy. 1990 New Yorker 5  Feb. 
115/1 
It is a quirky, understated, imaginative fourteen-minute stretch of  night 
music. 
 
1996 Scotl. on Sunday (Electronic ed.) 3 Nov., It is in the final movement  
[of Maxwell Davies' Concerto for Orchestra]..that the legacy of Bartok is  
clinched. A brief moment of night music, a stilled, hushed interruption in 
which  
[etc.].




And even here there is an accentual implicature:
 
NIGHTmusic
 
vs.
 
NIGHT-MUSIC
 
cfr. 'night performance' vs. 'night-performance'.
 
(1) The night-performance took place the next morning
 
is not contradictory.
 
(2) The night perfomance took place the next morning
 
_is_.
 
 
1693 DRYDEN tr. Juvenal Satires I. 5 When Night-performance holds the place  
of Merit. 1879 Dramatic Notes 23, I have given 379 Matinées, equal to one year 
 and a quarter of night performances. 1998 New Yorker 22 June 85/1 Night  
performances had their own hot charge.

or cfr. 'nightshow'
 
(1) I met Dolly at a little nightshow at the Eros Cinema.
(2) I met Dolly at a little night show at the Eros Cinema.
(3) I met Dolly at a little night-show at the Eros Cinema.
 
 
1629 J. MAXWELL tr. Herodian Hist. (1635) 302 Chariot-races, Stage~plaies,  
Feasts and Night-shewes. 1987 R. MISTRY Tales from Firozsha Baag 47 Vera and  
Dolly..went to nightshow at Eros Cinema.

Cfr. Dickens who usually has his characters wearing night-jackets  regardless:
 
1839 DICKENS Nicholas Nickleby viii. 65 Mrs. Squeers came in, still habited  
in the primitive night-jacket. 
 
1992 Gazette (Montreal) 28 May A3 The dead woman, gagged and wearing only a  
torn night jacket and bathrobe, was tied spread-eagled across the master  bed.

(and Mozart's  "Kleine musik" was playing).
 
Also: 
 
   
 
1857 T. HUGHES Tom Brown's School Days I. ix. 218 
 
"Hall and Brown were night fags last week."
 
    
1646 J. TRAPP Comm. John vii. 50 Nicodemus was only a night professor,  Judas 
in the sight of all.
 
night singer n. a bird or (occas.) an insect that sings at night. 
 
1816 W. KIRBY & W. SPENCE Introd. Entomol. II. xxiv. 401 The Fulgoræ  appear 
to be night-singers. 1840 Penny Cycl. XVI. 230/1 The Nightingale, or  night 
singer, is a migratory bird. 1882 Cent. Mag. Jan. 361/1 In this country  the 
mocking-bird is the only regular night-singer we have. 1940 E. T. SETON  Trail 
of 
Artist-naturalist 224 The night singer of the Assiniboine, was neither  more 
nor less than the white-throated sparrow.

night warbler n. any of various birds that sing at night; spec. (Eng.  
regional) the reed bunting, Emberiza schoeniclus. 
 
1739 W. BROOME Poems (ed. 2) 33 Hark! the Night Warbler from yon vocal  
Boughs Glads every Valley with melodious Woes! a1862 H. D. THOREAU Maine Woods  
(1864) 322 List of birds which I saw in..1857..A swallow; the night-warbler?  
once or twice. 1885 C. SWAINSON Provinc. Names Brit. Birds 27 The name of night 
 
warbler is also given to this bird [sc. the reed-bunting], because its cry may 
 be heard at almost all hours. 1968 C. E. JACKSON Brit. Names of Birds 65  
Reed-warbler..night warbler.

JLS
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