Talk:Major-General's Song

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Gilda Radner on Muppet Show Dubious[edit]

Why is the reference to Gilda Radner on the Muppet Show dubious? It was in season 3 episode 61 " link". I remember she was misheard and got the six-foot talking carrot, but I don't recall exactly what she had requested (parrot or something else).

Easter eggs[edit]

Whoever wikified the song lyrics is brilliant. Fishal 13:46, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Yes, this is a fantastic article! We should list it under Category schemes. ^_^ -- Toby Bartels 17:19, 6 Nov 2004 (UTC)

See Wikipedia:Piped link for the advice on easter egg links. This article makes a marvelous exception to it. JRM 23:04, 2005 Apr 7 (UTC)

I could hardly disagree more with the top statement. It's great that the entire lyrics to this song are provided. But they would look a million times better without the idiotic links to every WIkipedia entry that happens to occur in the song. Sometimes the "rules" are inappropriate, and never more than here. A far better idea would be to *first* display the full lyrics in a normal typeface with uniform color -- and *following*, list such links as deemed annotative. (The links to vegetable, animal, mineral, whistle, tactics, century, airs, equation and the like can be safely omitted.) 09:02, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
I have to say that I agree with you... it is slightly irritating. I also have to comment that the song is not what you would find in the original Libretto... The line originally was written "I am the very pattern of a modern major gineral" Eat that bitch!!!
The final version of the song — what Gilbert & Sullivan finally settled on — is, "I am the very model of a Modern Major-General." This is the appropriate version to display in the article. Marc Shepherd 20:39, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Wow, someone needs to grow a sense of humour  :( The links -- admittedly some of them more than others -- really enhance this article. (talk) 02:33, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Irrelevant external link[edit]

I've tried, but I cannot figure out what relevance the Reboot link has- the end lyrics don't strike me as a parody of the song at all. --maru (talk) contribs 00:00, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

The tune is the same, the lyrics don't try to match at all though. --Falcorian | Talk 00:19, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Garnet Wolseley?[edit]

Wasn't the song supposed to be about Garnet Wolseley? m.e. 10:45, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Yes, he is often thought to be the "model" for the Major-General, although other figures have been suggested. Marc Shepherd 11:11, 15 June 2006 (UTC)


Please read Help:Moving a page on how to move pages properly. Tim! 21:20, 13 July 2006 (UTC)


There is some repetition between the References section and the "External links" section. What's the WP: policy on how to correct this? --Ssilvers 01:33, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

I've resolved it by renaming a heading. Marc Shepherd 01:46, 28 August 2006 (UTC)

Lyrics of parodies[edit]

I don't think this is the correct article to place the entire lyrics of Parodies. If we did so, it would become far too clutered. Any opinions? --Falcorian (talk) 01:28, 30 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree heartily. We can't add in all the lyrics to all these parodies. Parodies that are online can be linked. Otherwise, it is enough, I think to say what the topic of the parody is (if the title doesn't say it all). I already removed the parody lyrics once, and the editor replaced them. I request that they be removed. -- Ssilvers 01:41, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
Not only that, but most parodies are probably in copyright. Adam Cuerden talk 12:18, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
A good point, I'll remove them... Unless they already have been. ;-) Missed it on my watch list. --Falcorian (talk) 20:19, 30 September 2006 (UTC)
I agree with the copyright observation. However, 'becoming too cluttered' is no better a rationale that having 'too much information'- surely Wikipedia's mandate. We should act as architects of information, not slash-and-burn datacops. -- (talk) 11:31, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Perhaps, but I'd prefer linking to parodies (as they're only slightly-relevant) or putting them on Wikisource if they're out of copyright to putting them in the article themself. Clutter may not be a valid criterion, but focus is. Adam Cuerden talk 17:20, 4 November 2006 (UTC)

Parodies shouldn't be the focus of this article anyway. If anything, the parodies have taken over the article and the less notable ones could be weeded out. -- Ssilvers 16:28, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Proliferation of links; most removed[edit]

Wikipedia isn't a compendium of links to every page/satire out there. I find many of the links irrelevant. As per WP:NOT#REPOSITORY and WP:NOT#DIR, I have removed the following from the article. I urge anyone hoping to add links to the section to discuss it first if the targets are similar. In particular, I think ReBoot was already discussed in the article and any links can be inserted there, if at all.

I think some people will be very unhappy about my keeping the Animaniacs link, which I think is notable, or the link, which I consider a better fansite exception than of the links I've removed. Xiner 16:11, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Thank you for trimming this list!! I agree that the Anamanicas example is notable, and that your choices for what to keep were the best. I have, however, resored one notable example, the widely copied and destributed Usenet parody. Best regards, -- Ssilvers 16:25, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
I again rm this link, "I am the very model of a modern libertarian" as it promotes one author and one political POV. Appears to have been replaced after the removal listed above. (Attention, admins?) I agree with keeping the link to the Amiright gallery, as it contains scores (no pun intended) of parodies by many different authors with many different topics and POV. Incidentally, isn't it self-defeating to rm a link, then copy here on the talk page exactly the link that was removed? Authors who are trying to promote their own work are still achieving this, if only on the talk page. Hence, I cited the name of the parody removed, but not the whole link. Perhaps the above list of links removed should be edited thusly? Just a thought... Unimaginative Username 20:04, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree with removing the link, but it doesn't hurt to have the list of removed links above, as it shows which of the darn things have already been removed before. I don't think that listing them on the talk page gives them any significant promotion. The biggest problem is simply the constant accumulation of links. See WP:LINKFARM. But, every few months, I just go through and clean it up if it hasn't already been done. Best regards, -- Ssilvers 23:47, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

One more has been added, the one to TV Tropes. If the guillotine were taken to the article again, that would be one of the few that you'd want to leave in place as it can be a holder of all the external links (parody and otherwise) that you could ever add here. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:30, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Television references[edit]

The same applies here as to the parodies. There is absolutely no reason to have a list of every single appearance anyone can think of. For example: "In season 2 of Slings & Arrows, Richard Smith-Jones uses the song to audition for the festival's musical." So what? 13:56, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

I have made an effort to consolidate the references and to give the section a semblance of narrative thrust. -- Ssilvers 23:49, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Another unrelated G&S reference is in season 4 of West Wing in the "Inaugural 1" episode President Bartlet describes Will Bailey's father (former supreme commander NATO) as "speaking of the very model of the modern major general." --MountainLogic (talk) 04:31, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

Enough already. The most recent addition to §Television references describes an insurance agency advert. Umm, who cares? §Television references has enough (too many) mostly uninteresting and useless factoids. It is time to stop adding references to the song's occurrence in "popular culture". The article is about the Song. If there is something about the song that truly makes a significant and notable impact in the current culture, add that to the article. Don't be adding all of these instances of some hack writer being "clever" and adapting G&S to his little sitcom or his advert that 50 years from now will be long forgotten. It is time to stop.

--Trappist the monk (talk) 00:01, 3 December 2011 (UTC)

Last Night of the Proms[edit]

Andrew Davis, lead conductor of the BBC Proms during the 2000 season, craftily fitted the contents of the traditional speech at the end of the Last Night into the format of the Major-General's Song - "This is the very model of a modern music festival". Unfortunately, internet links alluding to this are very scarce - generally a brief throwaway comment in newspaper reviews, e.g. New York Times and The Guardian. Interestingly, The Guardian's review suggests "...modern music festival..." was performed in previous seasons as well, which, were it not for the aforementioned scarcity of internet links, would have enhanced its notability as a parody (albeit with slightly different lyrics each season!). If anyone can find more comprehensive sources for this event, it might be worth adding to the main page, but until then, it's probably best left here... Mittfh (talk) 01:11, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

The NY Times article is clear enough. I added a mention to the article. -- Ssilvers (talk) 01:22, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

"Stailish vales"[edit]

It's not clear what "the contemporary stailish vales …" refers to here. Was there a book with this title? Is this a quote from the opera? Unfortunately the only Google hits for this phrase are from this article and its mirrors. --Cam (talk) 01:56, 16 May 2008 (UTC)

Since no one has come up with a ref, I'm removing the statement. -- Ssilvers (talk) 01:15, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Video Game Reference[edit]

I added a link to a YouTube video with a character from the upcoming (as of this edit) game Mass Effect 2. While I saw that there was a general discontent with extraneous links, this is the first reference to it in a video game... so I figured it would be relevant. However, I'm not good at Wiki editing, and followed the example of other citations in the section to cite... could anyone fix that? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:51, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

OK. I moved it up next to the Unix parody. -- Ssilvers (talk) 19:01, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

False TV reference[edit]

I cannot find any reference of "Pinky and the Brain" having a parody of Modern Major General, but I can find the Animaniacs series one of "I am the very model of a cartoon individual". I suggest we strike the Pinky and the Brain reference as it really has no foundation. I've spent the better part of an hour looking with no luck. There is no wealth like knowledge, no poverty like ignorance. - Ali ibn Abi-Talib (talk) 11:15, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

OK, deleted. Thanks for finding the refs. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:05, 15 February 2010 (UTC)

"model" v "pattern"[edit]

Once, in the UCLA music library, I picked up the libretto for Pirates, and found that it had as the first line of this song I am the very pattern of a modern major-general, rather than model. A little googling confirms that I wasn't hallucinating -- see e.g. (but turn off Flash before you follow the link, if you don't like ads).

I would love to see a mention of this alternative lyric in the article, with some more information about it that I don't have (e.g. was it an early version? a later revision that never caught on?). --Trovatore (talk) 08:14, 11 September 2010 (UTC)

Interesting idea. Perhaps you could research the matter and come up with a proposal to insert? I do not believe that this was in the first night libretto or any Savoy libretto. Mind, there would have to be some showing that this is relevant and important, as the Savoy operas were filled with minor text changes, some occurring well into the 20th century. If it was simply done by Randy in Boise in 1976 and two or three other amateur productions borrowed the idea, it is probably not notable. Let us know what you find out!--Wehwalt (talk) 13:19, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
It is in the first night version. See Allen 1975, p. 120. vvvt 14:01, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
G&S changed the word from pattern to model. This was one of dozens (or hundreds?) of changes made to the libretto of Pirates. Maybe a footnote would be appropriate, but there is not much to say about it, except that G&S quickly changed it to "model". It is a distracting piece of information for a reader who is encountering the song for the first time. BTW, VV, does Allen say that the word "pattern" was actually sung on the first night? I don't think any version of the vocal score has "pattern". -- Ssilvers (talk) 15:48, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Allen claims to print libretti as they were "presented" on first night. I am not sure about whether it was actually sung. Allen says that there are so many minor changes that he does not list them. Searle in his bibliographical adventures (1931) claims that it is "pattern" in first edition of the libretto, but not in vocal score or Macmillan edition. Bradley (1996) just says that it was "original version" (I don't have my copy of Bradley right now, so I'm referring to Google Books). Most probably it was changed due to singability during some of rehearsals or the first night and the libretto was printed before the change. Some of reviews may mention the title (but I'm not into checking them). vvvt 16:22, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
I'm sure nobody would ask you to do such a thing, VV. But if Trovatore is interested enough to research the matter that he has raised, nobody will gainsay him, I'm certain. - Tim riley (talk) 18:03, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps Gilbert said something interesting about the change in wording. A research project awaits someone ... Travatore.--Wehwalt (talk) 19:40, 12 September 2010 (UTC)
Here is just an FYI regarding Allen. All he is able to do is print the libretti as they were sold to audiences on the opening nights. There are countless examples where the libretti and scores disagreed with one another for decades, before finally being brought into agreement. Nobody really knows when all of these discrepancies were rectified. There are plenty of cases where the libretti and scores disagreed from the very beginning; clearly, they could not both have been correct. Marc Shepherd (talk) 19:04, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Thanks, all. I have to confess that it was largely my personal curiosity that led me to pose the question. But I'll toss it into my queue of low-priority tasks that may be addressed opportunistically if I happen to run across a document or if a wild hare takes me. If it's true that it's just one of many minor changes then it doesn't seem so important (although this would be more prominent than most, just because it comes in the first line of what I suspect is the single-best-known G&S song). --Trovatore (talk) 20:13, 12 September 2010 (UTC)

Note that a new series of reference books is being published (the first volume is out now) providing a variorum for all of the G&S operas. Our own Marc Shepherd is co-editor. -- Ssilvers (talk) 22:21, 23 March 2016 (UTC)


Do we really need to link every sodding other word in the lyrics? I don't think so. It looks ugly as sin and violates WP:OVERLINK. Ten Pound Hammer, his otters and a clue-bat • (Otters want attention) 16:16, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

Please explain, using specifics, which links violate WP:OVERLINK. I believe that these links help to explain the meanings of these somewhat obscure phrases and complex references - in the words of the guideline, they "will help readers to understand the current article more fully". One of the purposes of this article is to annotate the song, and Wikipedia provides the perfect way to do that with these links. Thanks. Please keep all the discussion here where other editors can participate, rather than on my talk page, from which I delete old messages that I no longer need. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:29, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

TenPoundHammer, please stop posting to my talk page. Per WP policy, I can and do delete old messages there that I no longer need. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:52, 3 November 2010 (UTC)

  • The editing that Ssilvers recently did to remove some of the overlinking, was definitely warranted. However, the context provided by the remaining links is very informative. If you primarily dislike the aesthetics, then you could try converting the links into footnotes, or try duplicating the lyrics in a sidebox (unlinked lyrics at left, linked version at right, kind of thing). There are options, but completely eliminating all links to air (music) and Mamelon (fort) and the rest, is not one of them. -- Quiddity (talk) 20:13, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
  • The article is fine as it is. Any potential changes need to be discussed here first. Jack1956 (talk) 22:28, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

citation needed: fugue[edit]

The fact that a fugue consists of multiple voices is common knowledge, at least to any musician, so I don't see any reason for a citation. Fugues are imitative which is impossible with only one voice, and therein lies the humour of the lyric. The very first line in wikipedia's entry for fugue confirms this. The rest of the comment about throat singing is perhaps unnecessary but still indeed true. Throat singing is a way for one person to sing 2 voices at once. (Perhaps overtone singing is a more accurate term for what the initial author intended.) However, this is irrelevant to the humour in the lyric so could be deleted anyway. Ibonyun (talk) 13:18, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the comment. What is common knowledge to a musician is not necessarily common knowledge to a general encyclopedia reader, and I agree that "fugue" is not common knowledge and requires a citation in this encyclopedia. I have added a reference. However, the main problem was the "throat singing" bit, which I have now relegated to a footnote. I would not mind if someone deleted the reference to throat singing in the footnote, but I kept it on the basis of WP:PRESERVE. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:12, 14 March 2011 (UTC)
I would say get rid of the footnote. If one can hum the subject and/or counter-subject of the fugue, that's pretty much the essence of it. What you are both saying is pedantic and suggests that I can't hum or rock or pop song because I can't hum the drums or guitar at the same time. The "tune" of a fugue is the subject. Vkgfx (talk) 06:52, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
Haha! It has nothing to do with your being able to hum each subject separately: the joke is that you can't hum them simultaneously. So the footnote is needed to explain the joke. The fact that even you didn't get it makes it even more important that we need the footnote. -- Ssilvers (talk) 21:42, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
I'm a composer and frequently write fugues on scratch paper to practice my counterpoint and ability to compose away from the piano. The problem is not a lack of understanding on my part. I can hum the tune of the Bach's Art of Fugue. Likewise, you could probably hum the tune of "A British Tar" from Pinafore despite it being polyphonous. I'm saying that it is not necessary to hum every voice concurrently to claim to be able to hum something, especially since a fugue only has (usually) one or two melodies despite it having multiple *voices*. Vkgfx (talk) 22:17, 12 November 2011 (UTC)
One more comment on this... I would just recommend doing away with all of these footnotes except for the first one, and replacing the battle links with a link to that article for "Marathon to Waterloo". This is basically a trivia section, and it's open to interpretation as I think these are missing the point of the song. Things like the frog chorus highlight the breadth of his classical training versus the shallowness of the martial trivia he possesses; they don't need to be impressive in and of themselves. Vkgfx (talk) 06:04, 13 November 2011 (UTC)

There probably are readers to whom the meaning of "fugue" isn't common knowledge, but those who need to know can follow the link. The real question is whether this "joke" needs to be explained. I have no doubt that the article's explanation is correct, and when I am at home I could provide references (probably multiple of them) to that effect. The real question is whether we want to be explaining all the jokes, as there are others that don't get footnotes. Marc Shepherd (talk) 15:00, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

When you write: "as there are others that don't get footnotes", what do you mean? They can't see the footnotes? They don't understand footnotes? Something else?
Leave the footnote in the article. The reader came to the article to learn about the the Song, not necessarily to embark on a research project to discover why the fugue stanza is a joke. --Trappist the monk (talk) 15:40, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
Sorry for the lack of clarity. What I meant is that, if the aim was to explain all the jokes to a general reader, more footnotes would be needed than the article currently has. Marc Shepherd (talk) 15:47, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
What else do you think needs an explanatory footnote? I'd be happy to add a couple more if something would be obscure to the general reader. I don't think we need to explain all the jokes, just the ones that would be hard for a general reader (especially a non-British one) to follow. -- Ssilvers (talk) 17:43, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
I don't think it's worth investing in. I mean, to me the fugue joke is totally obvious, but Vkgfx doesn't even think it's a joke at all, and he's a musician for heaven's sake, who of all people ought to see it. So it's hard for me to guess what the general reader will understand. There has been a ton written about this song, so one could write a full treatise on it. I'm just not sure it is a priority, given that no other Gilbert & Sullivan song has its own article. Marc Shepherd (talk) 19:06, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
It's not as important that I don't agree where the joke is. I acknowledge that the provided explanation of the impossibility of humming a fugue could be the intention, however I don't know that it is universally accept that this is the case. Furthermore, as another posted above, explaining every joke in the song would fill up the page quickly. It seems silly therefore to shoehorn in the explanations with footnotes. This whole "present my knowledge of the reference this work is making" is the idea behind Trivia sections, and the current policy is to avoid that kind of content. Vkgfx (talk) 08:19, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
I assume you're referring to WP:TRIVIA, which is a guideline, not a policy. It says, "Avoid creating lists of miscellaneous information." This article doesn't really meet that description. Marc Shepherd (talk) 14:48, 15 November 2011 (UTC)
Except for the part in which there is a list of miscellaneous information.Vkgfx (talk) 22:35, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

I agree with Marc Shepherd. These explanations are not miscellaneous. They are explanations of terms used in this article that are not understood by many readers of this article and are, in my opinion, well-selected. -- Ssilvers (talk) 05:11, 20 November 2011 (UTC)

I have a memory from years ago, when black and white televisions were still the norm. Yeah, I am that old. I remember watching a program with (I think) Leonard Bernstein where he did a simple demonstration of how two completely different melodies combine to make a third, also different melody. He was using the first and second violins from a Tchaikovsky symphony if memory serves. So, from this, I wonder if the fugue tune that one might hum might not be the actual theme but rather, the derived melody from two or more voices.

--Trappist the monk (talk) 12:51, 20 November 2011 (UTC)


This message was left on my user page. Better here:

Just wondering: What does the "anchor" that you added to the Benford book ref do? -- Ssilvers (talk) 18:29, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

There are references in the article text that look like this: <ref>[[#Benford|Benford 1999]]: p. 55</ref>}}</ref>.[example 1] At the bottom of §References is a {{cite book}} with a |ref=Benford parameter.


  1. ^ Benford 1999: p. 55


Clicking on the superscripted text (example 1) in the above paragraph changes the page view to that reference item in §Notes. Click on the Benford 1999 link and the page view shifts to the {{cite book}} citation. Very handy for single works cited multiple times where the difference in the citations is a minor detail like page numbers. Given my druthers, though, I'd rather use {{harvnb}} templates to accomplish the same thing. It's better to use standardized Wikipedia templates than to use this rather esoteric method.

--Trappist the monk (talk) 19:05, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

Thanks. Thanks, also for reviewing for dead links today. I am changing the short refs to <ref>Benford, p. 55</ref>. It is simpler and easier for all readers to work with. BTW, I think the citation templates are exclusionary and prefer a plain ref format. I was sorry to see that you went with the templates when conforming the refs instead toward the simpler method. I'm not going to undo it, but I think it's unfortunate. -- Ssilvers (talk) 20:42, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm all for simplicity. And, if all of us knew intuitively, or even by training, how to make reference citations that matched those of other editors, I'd agree with you about the cite-family of templates. However, not a one of us would do referencing in the same way and another of us as can be seen in so many Wikipedia articles. Many if not most editors on Wikipedia are amateurs who haven't been trained in the arcana of properly rendered citations. At least with the cite-family templates, there is a framework that yields nominally consistent output for the reader, who, after all, is the consumer of our product. I think that we editors forget that sometimes.
Similarly, while it isn't really an issue for this article, the links and anchors à la Bedford, are very useful when the cited sources are listed separately from the references (MACV–SOG for example).
--Trappist the monk (talk) 22:45, 7 May 2012 (UTC)
I find the new format introduced to the article unwieldy. Can we stick to the original formatting, please, as ordained by the MoS: "Editors should not attempt to change an article's established citation style merely on the grounds of personal preference, or without first seeking consensus for the change. If you think another system or style would be more appropriate for the article than what is already in use, then propose the change on the talk page, and wait for consensus to emerge." Tim riley (talk) 08:35, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for that quote from WP:CITEVAR. If you look back at the article before I made the changes, you will see that there wasn't a uniform citation system and style. Of the 25 reference citations in the article, I changed only seven. That would seem to suggest that using cite-family templates is the preferred method for citing references in this article.
--Trappist the monk (talk) 12:55, 8 May 2012 (UTC)
Gracious me! If we have to try and master this convoluted rigmarole I for one will stop editing Wikipedia. Tim riley (talk) 17:05, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Lyrics linking "Gee" to "Horse"?[edit]

Why does the word "gee" in the lyrics link to the wikipedia page "horse"? (There's no trace of the word on the Horse page.) The disambiguation page on "gee" doesn't shed any light on the meaning in the lyrics82.46.44.23 (talk) 10:52, 11 July 2012 (UTC) either.

According to this Google definition, gee is a synonym for horse. Google's source isn't identified.
Trappist the monk (talk) 12:26, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

"Gee-up" is used as an alternate for "get up", which riders or carriage drivers say as the command to a horse to walk forwards, and (as you note above) "gee" became a slang term for horse in 19th century England. So, when Gilbert wrote "sat a gee" he means "sat on a horse" (see, for example, Benford, Harry. The Gilbert & Sullivan Lexicon, Third Edition, p. 57, Houston: Queensbury Press (1999) ISBN 0-9667916-1-4). Since this term is not a commonly known one, the cross-reference to horse is needed to explain it. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:14, 11 July 2012 (UTC)

Except, as IP Editor points out, the term gee isn't used on the Horse page. I've added a note defining it and used the Benford ref you cited.
Trappist the monk (talk) 15:04, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

OR removed[edit]

I have removed this again. In the case of the "hum a fugue" the annotation is quite obviously WP:OR speculation. As previous discussion has shown, there are multiple other ways of reading that bit, and we simply don't have any reliable source about how it should be interpreted. The note about the "Frogs" is OR of the same type, plus, it is also quite simply factually wrong. The chorus of frogs does not only say "brekekex-koax-koax". It's a long, complex piece of choral lyrics [1]. Note that Ssilvers' claim that these annotations are "referenced" is wrong: the footnote on the "fugue" bit points merely to a music theory text that defines what a fugue is, but of course contains no analysis of whether you could "hum" one, let alone an analysis of what the intended joke in this song is. Likewise, the footnote to the "Frogs" bit is merely to a standard text edition of that play, which, if anything, can only prove the exact opposite of what the note claims. Fut.Perf. 06:45, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

I have now added a reference to Benford, which discusses the fugue issue. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:23, 4 October 2012 (UTC)
Can't verify from here. What does he say about the Frogs? If he's seriously claiming the chorus is only brekekekex-koax-koax, he's ipso facto not a reliable source. It's plain wrong; read the play. WP:V is not a suicide pact; it doesn't force us to repeat obvious plain errors of fact when we know that's what they are. Fut.Perf. 16:28, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

I agree about The Frogs - On rereading it, I see that Benford was only indicating that his source finds the "croaking chorus" (brekekekex-koax) lively. On the other issue, I have now added a reference to Benford's discussion that verifies the fugue footnote. A human cannot hum two or more musical lines in counterpoint, as Benford notes. -- Ssilvers (talk) 16:23, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Okay. Although incidentally I, personally, wouldn't agree, but that's of course just my OR now. I hum fugues all the time when I come home from choir practice. (As somebody else said further above, what you do is you just hum the theme and perhaps the response or something, just like with other music with accompaniment.) For me, the joke is not that it's impossible, but that it's just so unlikely: fugue themes are usually a highly abstract, learned type of music, not "catchy" tunes that you would be likely to pick up. Just like many of the other items in the song, such as reciting Latin verse about Heliogabalus or writing notes in Babylonic cuneiform, where the joke is really neither about things being impossible nor about things being trivially easy, but about things being just extremely obscure, unlikely and remote from practical use. Fut.Perf. 16:39, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Vegetable, animal, and mineral[edit]

I believe the phrase "vegetable, animal, and mineral" is much more likely to be a reference to Linnean taxonomy in general, rather than the parlour game. Had anybody even heard of the latter in 1879? The link seems to have been added in July 2005, and has apparently gone unquestioned since. Gabbe (talk) 17:53, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Ian Bradley's The Complete Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan, p. 220, refers to Twenty Questions, although he doesn't say if the game is the origin of the phrase in the song. This 1882 book refers to it as a game originating in the mists of antiquity: -- Ssilvers (talk) 18:17, 4 October 2012 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Major-General's Song/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

The section "other information" suggests the lyrics were changed following the Franco-Prussian War. Since the song was not written until long after said conflict, this seems impossible. Any alternative explanations for the name change?

Last edited at 12:30, 27 July 2007 (UTC). Substituted at 22:52, 29 April 2016 (UTC)